The Thunder turned rebounding into transition opportunities, finishing the game with 32 fast break points.
The Thunder’s reserves pushed OKC’s lead to 20 points in the second quarter while Durant and Westbrook were on the bench. They confirmed in that stretch an advantage the Thunder was believed to have in the respective second units. Reggie Jackson scored or assisted on nine of Thunder points during the 11-4 run.
But things quickly unraveled after the break.
The Grizzlies outscored the Thunder 31-13 in the third quarter and held OKC to 3-for-16 shooting in the period.
Memphis started the third quarter on a 17-4 run, trimming a 22-point halftime deficit to nine by taking advantage of Thunder turnovers and breakdowns defensively. The Grizzles scored 10 points in the paint during that five-minute spurt. Seven points came off four OKC giveaways.
The Grizzlies’ comeback culminated with them coming as close as two points when Mike Miller rained in a 3-pointer with 8:46 left to play. The Thunder answered with a 13-1 run. Seven of those points came at the free throw line. Durant found Serge Ibaka under the basket for a dunk and three-point play, and Durant later splashed in a 3-pointer off a feed from Derek Fisher.
Grizzlies guard Beno Udrih snapped his team’s scoring drought with a jumper that pulled Memphis within 87-75. Prior to that basket, the Grizzlies had missed five straight shots and turned it over twice.
Memphis never got closer than 10 points the rest of the way.