After an unlikely third quarter comeback, aided by a strange Tony Allen technical (examined later), the Thunder had momentum and a more than manageable two-point deficit heading to the fourth. But the wheels soon fell off, with OKC starting the fourth 1/9 shooting with three turnovers, quickly falling into a double-digit hole. Maybe it was fatigue. Maybe it was the Grizzlies punishing style. Likely, it was just a whole lot of both.
It was over when…
…a wild, and I mean wild, Thunder comeback fell just short. Using a 16-6 run in the final two-plus minutes of the game, OKC cut the Grizzlies lead to two and, after a pair of Zach Randolph missed free throws, had the ball. But KD missed an open elbow jumper, Tony Allen got the rebound and clinched it moments later with two free throws. Memphis: 88-84.
Star of the game – Zach Randolph
He was physically dominant in the paint and deadly with his silky jumper. Randolph’s two missed free throws nearly cost Memphis, but they wouldn’t have been there if not for his 28 points, 14 rebounds and consistent play.
Durant’s rough night
The final line is as ugly as his game looked on Wednesday: 5-of-21 shooting, 21 points, seven turnovers. But the struggles were really just a culmination of a rough, almost unfair, series for the superstar who had little offensive help surrounding him, while battling arguably the top defense in the league. He tried to do everything and, as is often the case with solo superstars late in the playoffs, he failed. He’ll be the happiest guy on the planet when Westbrook is firing up one-on-four 18-footers in transition next season, because it will mean RW is back on the court, back to helping Durant.
Stats of note
-For the second straight season, the Thunder bows out on a four-game losing streak. Those are the only two four-game slides for OKC in the past four seasons.
-Derek Fisher went 3-of-11 on threes on Wednesday. Eleven attempts seems a bit much.
-The Thunder went 6-of-24 from three.
Tony Allen made one of the most boneheaded plays in history, accidentally tossing his towel on to the court from the bench, while Derek Fisher was shooting. Fisher’s shot missed, but he was awarded three points, plus a technical, because of the distraction. It was a four-point swing that completely shifted momentum.
When the aging Tayshaun Prince does this to you, well, I don’t even know what to say:
…The NBA Draft, followed by a very interesting and very important offseason. A roster that has stayed relatively intact (besides the Harden trade) is in for some serious retooling. Amnesty Kendrick Perkins? Resign Kevin Martin? What should be added in free agency? Many pertinent questions for the franchise’s future will be answered in the coming months.
Thunder: Gone Fishing – (From TNT)