Ibaka made three of his first five shots and scored nine points with seven rebounds in the opening period. Jackson made all three of his first-quarter shot attempts and chipped in seven in the frame. The Thunder made 10 of 18 from the field in the quarter and scored six points in transition, as many as it had in Game 1 and one fewer than Game 2.
“They came out firing,” said Hollins.
The Thunder's lead soon swelled to as many as 17 with 4 1/2 minutes remaining in the second quarter. But the Grizzlies ended the half on a 19-10 run to cut the deficit to eight at halftime. Grizzlies guard Jerryd Bayless capped the flurry with two 3-pointers in the final minute.
Memphis cut it to 72-70 on a jumper by Gasol, and Gasol then tied it at 72-all on a pair of free throws.
It was nip-and-tuck from there.
The final nine minutes were as nail-biting as expected. There were nine lead changes over that span, and neither team lead by more than three. It was an 89-86 advantage held by the Thunder with four minutes left in regulation.
Durant split a pair of free throws with 1:48 remaining in regulation. But the Thunder couldn't close in crunch time because poor defensive rebounding again reared its ugly head.
The Grizzlies grabbed two offensive rebounds on their next possession, and watched the trip end with Randolph making one of two foul shots to put Memphis up 93-92. Durant appeared to get fouled on the next Thunder possession, but the officials didn't call Randolph for reaching in on Durant's arm as he went up for a shot with 41.9 seconds remaining.
Memphis then secured yet another offensive rebound after a missed 3-pointer by Bayless. Conley corralled this one and eventually got it to Gasol, who then converted one of two free throws to push the Grizzlies' lead to 94-92.
The Thunder allowed 13 offensive rebounds, which led to 21 Grizzlies second-chance points.
“We could have done a much better job there.”
The Thunder will have at least one more chance.
“It's not over yet,” Brooks said. “They're in a good position, but our challenge is not impossible.