Grizzlies force Game 7
Thunder can’t stop Randolph
MEMPHIS — Zach Randolph is doing everything he can to keep the Memphis Grizzlies’ memorable playoff run going as long as possible.
Randolph had 30 points and 13 rebounds, and the Grizzlies avoided elimination by beating the Oklahoma City Thunder, 95-83, last night to push their Western Conference semifinal to Game 7 — the first in these NBA playoffs.
The Grizzlies had never won a game before when facing elimination, but that was back in 2004, 2005, and 2006, when they were swept out of the postseason each of those years.
These Grizzlies are having not only the best playoff run in franchise history, but they now have won more games this postseason than any other No. 8 seed from the West.
Game 7 will be tomorrow in Oklahoma City, with the winner advancing to play the well-rested Dallas Mavericks.
“This is where we want to be playing, Game 7, that one game to get to the Western Conference finals,’’ Randolph said. “It’s important. I feel good, but the job ain’t done yet. We know it’s going to be tough going to Oklahoma trying to win that game. We believe we can do it, and we’re committed.’’
O.J. Mayo, who started in place of Sam Young, scored 16 points for Memphis. Mike Conley had 11 points and 12 assists, and Tony Allen added 10 points as the Grizzlies also improved to 5-1 on their home court in this postseason, with a sellout crowd standing for the entire second half and cheering to keep this stunning run going at least one more game.
Memphis outscored the Thunder, 51-29, in the second half and 46-38 in the paint overall.
Russell Westbrook led the Thunder with 27 points, and James Harden had 14.
Kevin Durant, the NBA’s leading scorer in the regular season, was held to a postseason-low 11 points.
“It’s going to be a tough Game 7 at our place,’’ Durant said. “I’m looking forward to it. I started the game off like I did . . . After that, it goes downhill. It’s frustrating.’’
Randolph had been limited to just 19.8 points and 31.9 percent shooting since he scored a career-best 34 points in Game 1. He had been the focus of the Thunder’s defense and had just 9 points on 3 of 9 shooting in Game 5. Memphis coach Lionel Hollins credited the difference to having 48 more hours to recover from their triple-overtime loss Monday.
“Obviously, we’ve been a team that’s been able to come from behind all year long, and we did it again tonight,’’ Hollins said.
The power forward, named to the All-NBA’s third team, scored 11 in the fourth to preserve Memphis’s lead. Randolph scored 6 straight points, capped by a 12-foot fallaway jumper that sent the fans into a frenzy chanting his nickname.
“He was making jump shots, and he was making contested jump shots,’’ Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. “He’s third-team All-NBA for a reason. That guy is a player, and when he gets it going, you only can do what you can do and that is contest his shot and force him to take tough shots and he made some tough shots tonight.’’
Randolph said Mayo’s addition to the starting lineup helped give him more space with the Thunder forced to honor the guard. Hollins told Mayo he would be starting before the morning shootaround.
“It’s a responsibility to come out and give us a great shot, and I get an opportunity to stretch the floor for big Zach and Marc [Gasol] and let them go to work,’’ Mayo said.
Oklahoma City just couldn’t get to the basket or sink shots in the second half.