Thunder shake down Grizzlies in Game 7May 16, 2011 - 4:04 AM Oklahoma City, OK (Sports Network) - Upset that he let his teammates down with one of the worst games of his career, Kevin Durant vowed to be more aggressive so it wouldn't happen again.
Durant scored 39 points on 25 shots Sunday and Russell Westbrook had a triple- double, leading the Oklahoma City Thunder to a 105-90 victory over Memphis in Game 7 of the Western Conference semifinals.
After scoring just 11 points in Friday's Game 6 loss, Durant went to the basket early and often in this one to help the franchise reach the conference finals for the first time in 15 years.
"I just attacked," said Durant.
"I was so upset with myself for letting my guys down by not playing my game (on Friday). I wasn't aggressive at all," he said. "But I stayed with it. I was just positive and confident and kept the faith in the things that got me here."
The fourth-seeded Thunder took control of the game near the end of the third quarter, burying the scrappy Grizzlies under a barrage of three-pointers before snuffing out any spark of a comeback in the fourth.
They moved on to face the third-seeded Dallas Mavericks, who swept the Lakers in the other conference semifinal. Game 1 is Tuesday in Dallas.
Mike Conley had 18 points and Zach Randolph scored 17 to lead the Grizzlies, who had stayed alive with a comeback win in Game 6, but failed in their bid to become the first No. 8 seed ever to reach the Western Conference finals.
"We had a heck of a run," said Memphis coach Lionel Hollins.
Westbrook had 14 points, 14 assists and 10 rebounds for his triple-double, while James Harden scored 17 off the bench, including a trio of three-pointers during the Thunder's big third quarter.
But the team's success this season has had more to do with Durant than anyone else, which is why the Thunder couldn't afford a repeat of Game 6, when the NBA's leading scorer shot just 3-of-14 and all but disappeared as Memphis took control in the second half.
"I guess I can say it now: He stunk last game," said Thunder coach Scott Brooks. "But he doesn't take anything for granted, so I knew he would come back and have a fantastic game."
Durant overcame a slow start shooting to go 13-of-25 from the field, including 4-for-9 from three-point range after he was just 1-for-9 on Friday.
He scored 13 points during Oklahoma City's 30-24 third quarter, hitting a pair of threes during a 14-2 run. But Harden provided the biggest fireworks. He knocked down a trio of three-pointers, including one that gave Oklahoma City its largest lead till that point at 69-53, and twice buried threes with the clock winding down.
Isolated against O.J. Mayo at the top of the arc, Harden dribbled back and forth between his legs, getting enough separation for a three-pointer that dropped in the final second to make it 72-58 heading into the fourth.
The Grizzlies never got closer than 13 the rest of the way, while the Thunder pushed their lead as high as 20.
The loss ended a spectacular run for Memphis, formerly among the NBA's most downtrodden franchises, which had never even won a playoff game before knocking top-seeded San Antonio out in the first round.
What's next, after the hangover of a playoff push that surprised most onlookers?
"Vacation," said Randolph. "I wish we could still be playing, but you know ... " and then his voice trailed off.
"That team is going to be good for a long time," said Brooks. "Going into this series, we knew it was going to be a tough challenge for us. But we were up for that challenge. Our guys kept believing."
Trying to shake off the feeling of Game 6, Durant instead continued his poor shooting in the first quarter. He was 2-for-9 but still scored eight points, including four during a 10-2 run that gave Oklahoma City an early 18-15 lead.
The Thunder carried a 21-17 advantage into the second and went up by 11 when Durant's three-pointer made it 40-29. Moments later, Westbrook found him for an alley-oop circus layup to keep the lead at 11.
"We have good eye contact," Westbrook said.
Durant scored 18 points in the first half on 6-of-13 shooting and Oklahoma City took a 42-34 edge into halftime. He had nine points during the 14-2 run that pushed the Thunder's lead from 52-49 to 66-51. Durant capped the burst with a block, then a three-pointer at the other end that had Hollins arguing for a foul at mid-court.
Hollins was whistled for a technical -- one of four called in the third quarter -- and Durant knocked down the free throw.
The Thunder franchise hasn't been to the conference finals since 1996, when the Seattle Sonics beat Utah in seven games before losing to Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls in the NBA Finals....Oklahoma City won three of the last four games after falling down 2-1 in the series...Durant scored 41 points in the Thunder's Game 5 series clincher against Denver in the first round...Westbrook and Serge Ibaka picked up technicals for the Thunder, while Marc Gasol got one for Memphis. Westbrook shoved Mayo after the Memphis guard took the ball out of his hands following a turnover...Mayo started for Sam Young again and scored 14 points...Six of Westbrook's 10 rebounds were on the offensive end.
- MEMPHIS: 90
OKLAHOMA CITY: 105
May 15 5:59 PM
- MEMPHIS: 58
OKLAHOMA CITY: 72
End of 3rd
May 15 5:25 PM
- MEMPHIS: 34
OKLAHOMA CITY: 42
May 15 4:34 PM
- MEMPHIS: 0
OKLAHOMA CITY: 0
1st Quarter - 12:00
May 15 3:33 PM
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