MEMPHIS — Same script. Great comeback. Overtime defeat. And now the Thunder is running out of time for rallies.
The Grizzlies beat the Thunder 98-95 in overtime Thursday night to take a 2-1 lead in their Western Conference playoff series, reaffirming what the Thunder already knew. Memphis is tough to beat in the FedEx Forum.
The Grizzlies now have won 15 straight at home, and the Thunder is just 1-5 at the Grindhouse during three postseason series since 2011.
The Thunder trailed by 17 points with 7 1/2 minutes left in regulation and by four with 30 seconds left. Russell Westbrook’s four-point play tied the game with 26.6 seconds left, and Kevin Durant had a desperation 3-pointer at the buzzer to win it.
But then the Grizzlies dominated overtime. Much like they did Monday night in Game 2, when the Thunder staged a memorable rally to force overtime, only for the Grizzlies to control the extra period.
“Sometimes the ball doesn’t fall,” said Thunder coach Scott Brooks. “Hopefully, it changes the tide Saturday night. One thing I do, I believe in our guys.”
The Thunder got 30 points each from Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, but neither shot well. Durant made just 10 of 27 shots, Westbrook just nine of 26.
But they keyed a 17-0 run down the stretch of the fourth quarter, and Westbrook’s 3-pointer with 57.3 seconds left forged an 81-81 tie.
When Memphis took an 85-81 lead, Westbrook answered with a four-point play with 26.6 seconds to tie again.
The Thunder had a chance to win in regulation, but Durant’s desperation 3-pointer at the buzzer was off the mark.
Durant’s three-point play 51 seconds into overtime gave the Thunder an 88-85 lead, its first lead since midway through the first quarter. But the Grizzlies scored eight straight points to take command.
OKC wasn’t finished just yet. Westbrook and Durant missed 3-pointers six seconds apart in the final half minute that would have tied. Courtney Lee’s three foul shots in the final 11 seconds sealed the game for Memphis.
And now Memphis has beaten the Thunder in consecutive overtime games and beaten the Thunder four times in overtime playoff games since 2011.
“Part of it is not get too worried, staying poised, understanding you have to finish out the game together,” said Memphis star Tony Allen, who scored 16 points to go with his suffocating defense.