Conley, Grizzlies down Thunder to even series

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Updated: May 8, 2013

conley

Mike Conley was one assist shy of a triple-double and hit a go-ahead 3-pointer down the stretch to lead the Memphis Grizzlies over the Oklahoma City Thunder, 99-93, in Game 2 of their Western Conference semifinal series.

Conley finished with 26 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists, and the emerging point guard provided the 27th lead change with a clutch 3-pointer with 1:58 remaining. The basket was part of the Grizzlies’ 10-3 run to end the game and helped even the series at a game apiece heading back to Memphis.

Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph powered a one-sided advantage in the post with 24 and 15 points, respectively, as Memphis scored 20 more points in the paint and held a 23-6 edge in second-chance points.

Kevin Durant nearly had a triple-double as well, though in a losing cause, totaling 36 points, 11 boards and nine helpers. Derek Fisher followed with 19 points, while key reserve Kevin Martin was limited to six on 2-of-11 shooting after scoring 25 points in each of the last two games.

The tight series takes a few days off before Game 3 tips off Saturday night.

The matchup has all the makings of the conference semis these teams played two years ago, a series won by the Thunder in seven games. Oklahoma City took Game 1 thanks to Durant’s go-ahead jumper in the final stages, but down the stretch Tuesday the Thunder went over three minutes without a field goal to lose homecourt advantage in the series.

Memphis shook off a slow third quarter, quickly erased a 74-69 deficit entering the fourth and was on top, 86-83, courtesy of a Tony Allen bucket off an offensive rebound.

Serge Ibaka answered with a jumper and Durant backed Jerryd Bayless down to the left block and got a turnaround to fall while being fouled, the free throw giving the Thunder an 88-86 edge with 3:18 to play. The basket wound up being the last for the West’s top seed before Fisher’s meaningless buzzer-beating three.

With under two minutes remaining, Gasol commanded a double team in the lane and kicked the ball back to Conley for an open 3-pointer and a 92-90 advantage. Durant was long on a 3-point try from the left wing, and the combination of Gasol and Conley struck again, this time with Gasol setting a pick at the top of the key to free up Conley for an 18-footer with 1:04 showing.

Durant turned the ball over and missed from long range on the next two Oklahoma City possessions to end any chance of another come-from-behind win.

The Grizzlies scored 10 points off six Oklahoma City turnovers in the first quarter, but only led 23-21 following Durant’s 3-pointer in the closing seconds.

Fisher caught fire in the second quarter. The 38-year-old veteran netted 13 points in the frame, including consecutive corner 3-pointers that gave the Thunder a 39-35 lead near the midway point.

Memphis scored nine of the last 11 points of the half, however, with Conley scooping in a layup to put the visitors in front by a 54-51 margin at the break.

Durant nearly outscored the Grizzlies by himself in the third quarter. The three-time scoring champion matched his first-half total with 13 points, while the Grizzlies were limited to 15 as a whole.

Games Notes

Durant has recorded 20-plus points in 34 consecutive playoff games … Ibaka was held to 11 points … Memphis scored 29 points off 21 turnovers …The Grizzlies only committed 11 turnovers … Allen logged 12 points, seven rebounds and five steals.