MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Game 3 between the OKC Thunder and Memphis Grizzlies had the look of Game 1, but instead wound up like Game 2, all of which means the Thunder now trails this best-of-7 Western Conference semifinal by a 2-1 margin.
Round and round this physical playoff series goes.
Saturday's ride featured 13 lead changes and eight ties before the Grizzlies posted an 87-81 victory before a sellout crowd of 18,119 at the FedExForum.
Through three games, there have been 49 lead changes and 32 ties between two of the league's best defensive teams.
In Game 3 on Saturday, the Thunder scrambled back from a 10-point deficit to tie the score at 81 with 1:58 remaining. Alas, OKC did not score again, going 0 for 3 from the field, 0 for 2 from the free-throw line and committing five fouls while Memphis closed with a 6-0 run.
In Game 1 on May 5, the Thunder overcame a 12-point deficit to tie the score at 84 but then capitalized for a 93-91 victory at Chesapeake Energy Arena.
“Everything was good other than we couldn't make a basket,” OKC coach Scott Brooks said after watching his team shoot just 36.4 percent from the field Saturday. “We just got to make some shots. I believe in our guys. They work extremely hard every day to make those shots.”
The Thunder was so cold, it even struggled at the free-throw line, where it has led the NBA the last three seasons, shooting .828 this year.
OKC converted just 12 of 19 (.632) at the line in Game 3. Three-time scoring champ Kevin Durant, who won the free-throw percentage title at .905 this season, made just 5 of 9 (.556).
The Thunder is still trying to find its way after losing three-time All-Star point guard Russell Westbrook to season-ending knee surgery April 27. Despite gallant efforts, OKC continues to come up short against a Memphis squad that's talented enough to win the conference title.
Despite suffering its second straight loss in the series, the Thunder cleaned up a lot of mistakes made in its 99-93 loss in Game 2 on Tuesday at The Peake.
“We are going to continue to make the right plays, and I'm confident that we are going to make those shots,” said Durant, who led the team in scoring (25), rebounds (11), assists (five) and steals (three).
• Game 4 is Monday at 8:30 p.m. at FedExForum.
• Game 5 is Wednesday at 8:30 p.m. in OKC.