Kevin Durant knocked down a huge 19-foot pull-up jump shot to give his Oklahoma City Thunder a 91-90 lead over the visiting Memphis Grizzlies with 11.1 seconds remaining in Game 1 of the two teams' Western Conference semifinals matchup at Chesapeake Energy Arena on Sunday. The Thunder would hold onto the lead their superstar provided, locking down a 93-91 win to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat and take a 1-0 lead in the best-of-seven series.
Durant's transition opportunity was keyed by a miscue from Memphis point guard Mike Conley, who lost control of the ball while driving to the basket with just under 20 seconds remaining and the Grizzlies holding a one-point lead. After Conley ceded possession, with Thunder guard Derek Fisher getting credit for a steal on the play, Durant snagged the loose ball and pushed it up the court; while Oklahoma City still had two timeouts remaning, coach Scott Brooks declined to call one, preferring to allow Durant to attack the Grizzlies before their stout defense could regroup in a half-court setting. The decision proved to be a wise one, as Durant was able to push retreating defender Tayshaun Prince back on his heels, stop on a dime just above the right elbow, elevate and fire to put the Thunder back in front for the first time since holding a 49-48 advantage just after halftime.
The jumper capped a 12-point fourth quarter for Durant, who led all scorers with 35 points on 13 for 26 shooting on Sunday, but it didn't cap Game 1. After a timeout called by Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins, Memphis trigged the ball from the right sideline with a chance to re-take the lead, but Durant tipped the inbounds pass; it did find its intended target, center Marc Gasol, but Durant's defense threw a monkey wrench into Memphis' design.
Gasol then missed a window to feed frontcourt partner Zach Randolph down low, passed up a shotRead More »from Kevin Durant’s clutch late jumper pushes Thunder past Grizzlies for Game 1 win (Video)