Derek Fisher, just 3-for-7 on the day, triggered the biggest sequence of the game. After losing Grizzlies point guard Mike Conley on a high ball screen, Fisher got back in the play, reached in from behind and poked the ball away. The ball squirted right into the hands of Durant, who raced the ball up the court and splashed in the go-ahead jumper with 11.1 seconds remaining.
“At that point, that was the only defensive play I could make,” Fisher said of his strip. “Try to get a handle on the ball … Thank the Lord my arms are long even though I'm not.”
Thabo Sefolosha then set up Jackson's foul shots when he deflected a pass Gasol intended for Conley. The ball bounced toward the sideline. Sefolosha and Conley bumped into each other. Conley fell out of bounds with possession.
“We just try to do things that's not going to show up in the stat sheet,” Durant said.
In this opening game, the Thunder's role players provided plenty.
“There's no question we are a really good team with Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook,” said Thunder coach Scott Brooks.
“But what really makes us good is our role players. We have stars in those departments.”
Against one of the league's stingiest defense, they'll need to shine bright three more times if the Thunder is to advance to its third straight Western Conference Finals.