Durant the difference as Thunder edge GrizzliesDec 29, 2011 - 6:54 AM Memphis, TN (Sports Network) - Kevin Durant scored 32 points and hit a critical jumper down the stretch, as the Thunder shot down the Grizzlies, 98- 95, in a rematch of last season's Western Conference semifinals.
James Harden tallied 20 points off the bench, helping the Thunder improve to 3-0 despite Russell Westbrook's 0-for-13 shooting effort.
Oklahoma City eliminated Memphis from the postseason in a grueling seven-game series last season, and its 10-for-25 performance from three-point range proved to be the difference on Wednesday.
Memphis shot just 2-for-16 from long range to overshadow double-doubles from Zach Randolph, Rudy Gay and Marc Gasol, who all pulled down 12 rebounds. Randolph scored 24 points, while Gay and Gasol netted 19 and 16, respectively.
The Grizzlies lost their opener in San Antonio on Monday, and two days later watched their 76-75 lead quickly evaporate when the Thunder caught fire from behind the arc early in the fourth.
Daequan Cook hit two from long distance during a 14-1 run, which Harden capped with another three-ball for an 89-77 cushion with 5:25 remaining.
Memphis answered with 13 of the next 16 points to pull within two on Gay's leaner with 58.6 seconds to go, but Durant hit a step-back jumper at the other end to restore the two-possession advantage.
Serge Ibaka blocked a driving Gay the next time down, and O.J. Mayo's missed three-pointer with 15.9 seconds left essentially ended Memphis' chance at a comeback.
"We just played good team defense," Thunder center Kendrick Perkins said. "We stuck together and were communicating."
Memphis didn't hit its first field goal until there was 4:04 remaining in the opening quarter, but the Thunder's own offensive struggles had them holding a slim 23-20 lead after 12 minutes.
Oklahoma City scored 10 straight early in the second stanza, though Memphis chipped away and were within 54-49 at halftime.
"We were a little too antsy in the homer opener," Randolph said. "We started to play better in the second quarter."
The Grizzlies took their first lead, 61-60, on a Randolph jumper midway through the third, though they trailed 72-70 heading to the fourth.
Mike Conley, Memphis' starting point guard, rolled his left ankle on the game's first play and did not return. Jeremy Pargo saw extended minutes as a result and finished with 15 points and seven assists...Durant has scored 30 or more points in all three games this season...Oklahoma City had lost three straight in Memphis.
- OKLAHOMA CITY: 98
Dec 28 10:50 PM
- OKLAHOMA CITY: 72
End of 3rd
Dec 28 10:04 PM
- OKLAHOMA CITY: 54
Dec 28 9:21 PM
- OKLAHOMA CITY: 23
End of 1st
Dec 28 8:49 PM
- OKLAHOMA CITY: 0
1st Quarter - 12:00
Dec 28 8:16 PM
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