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Thunder-Grizzlies: Another overtime loss, another 2-1 deficit in Memphis gives OKC the Deja Blues

MEMPHIS 98, OKC 95 (OT) — The Thunder once again depended almost exclusively on Durant and Westbrook for offense, and it almost worked. Said Kendrick Perkins: “We didn’t play the smartest down the stretch.”
by Darnell Mayberry Published: April 25, 2014

— For two days, the Thunder talked about one thing more than anything else.

Having a sense of urgency.

After losing Game 2 and home-court advantage, that catchphrase became a bit of a rallying cry, an in-house recipe the Thunder wanted to use to regain control of this dogfight of a first-round series.

But when the ball was thrown up for Game 3 against Memphis on Thursday, it took Oklahoma City 40 minutes to really put that mentality on display.

And yet somehow, it almost worked.

Almost.

The Thunder dug itself out of a 17-point, fourth-quarter hole but again saw the game slip away in overtime, this time 98-95 inside FedExForum.

Sure enough, after the Thunder sunk deeper in this series, that familiar refrain resurfaced.

“We just have to be better next game,” said Kevin Durant. “We’re down 2-1 and we don’t want to go into a bigger hole than that. So we got to come out and play with a little bit more of a sense of urgency.”

Game 3 is Saturday night back inside FedExForum.

“A lot of positives,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks of the defeat. “One of the positives is we’ve been here before. Matter of fact, we’ve been here before with this Grizzlies team.”

In the second round of the 2011 playoffs, the Thunder fell into a 2-1 series hole against the Grizzlies but tied the series with a thrilling triple-overtime win in Game 4 at Memphis. OKC ultimately advanced in seven.

Who knows how this slugfest will shake out three years later?

But what we do know is the Grizzlies are doing everything we thought they would in this series and seizing command by catching OKC off guard with even more that nobody saw coming.

Memphis again shut down the Thunder’s offense, hounding Durant and Russell Westbrook into inefficient shooting nights and holding OKC to 39.1 percent shooting. It’s the second straight game that the high-powered Thunder offense has been held to less than a 40-percent clip. But offense, we figured would be tough.

The Grizzlies’ role players outplaying the Thunder’s is another thing.

Tony Allen again appeared at times to be the most impactful player on the floor by supplying a steady dose of solid defense and an unexpected source of offense. His 16 points off the bench were seven more than the Thunder’s reserves had combined.

“He’s played well,” Brooks said. “We have to be able to guard all the guys. That’s what we take pride in, guarding guys.”

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by Darnell Mayberry
OKC Thunder Senior Reporter
Darnell Mayberry grew up in Langston, Okla. and is now in his third stint in the Sooner state. After a year and a half at Bishop McGuinness High, he finished his prep years in Falls Church, Va., before graduating from Norfolk State University in...
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