MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP)—Coach Lionel Hollins offered his Grizzlies just the antidote to any overconfidence they might be feeling after an amazing comeback victory from 16 points down.
He showed them all they did wrong through the first three quarters.
Grizzlies guard Tony Allen(notes) said Sunday their adrenaline is up after rallying for that 101-93 overtime victory Saturday and a 2-1 series lead in their Western Conference semifinal with the Thunder. They thought they were going to see clips of what they did right in the comeback.
“It was the other way around,” Allen said. “We saw a lot of film where we did things wrong, and I think that right there only just gives us fuel to the fire to come out this next game and ready to play.”
Hollins said he thinks his Grizzlies relaxed the defensive intensity they used in upsetting the top-seeded San Antonio Spurs in six games after opening this series with a win in Oklahoma City. He didn’t see it until the fourth quarter Saturday.
“We finally got back to the effort that’s needed, the commitment and focus that’s needed, and we raised our level of play,” Hollins said.
Oklahoma City coach Scott Brooks took the same approach with his Thunder. But he spent about an hour picking apart the handful of minutes in the fourth quarter where they blew that lead with sloppy offense, possessions ruined by making only one pass before throwing up tough shots.
“We just have to do a better job the last six or seven minutes of the game,” Brooks said.
The Thunder led 76-63 after three quarters and seemed in control before scoring only 10 points in the fourth quarter on 4 of 18 shots. Kevin Durant(notes), the NBA’s leading scorer this postseason averaging 31.6 points, was just 2 of 7, and Russell Westbrook(notes) hit only one of his six shots with three turnovers.
“It wasn’t all Russell,” Brooks said. “It was some, so he’s a part of it. It was Kevin, it was guys that were out there including myself. We have to do a better job making sure we’re all running every set, every offensive play with great energy.”
Durant was so upset by the loss he groaned and quietly uttered an expletive as he walked away from reporters Saturday night. He had taken only one shot from the free throw line on a technical after being guarded by Allen most of the night or Shane Battier(notes).
With his mother and brother in town for the Mother’s Day holiday, Durant was much more upbeat at the end of practice Sunday. He said everyone spoke up during the film session, and he expects no hangover for Game 4 on Monday night.
“We’re good on bounce-back games, and hopefully tomorrow is another case of that,” Durant said. “Going through adversity is part of the playoffs, and we just have to push through it.”
The Thunder came into this postseason expecting a deep run behind the NBA’s top scorer after taking the eventual NBA champion Lakers to six games in the opening series last year.
The Grizzlies? They’re two wins from NBA history as the first No. 8 seed to reach the Western Conference finals, and nobody outside their locker room could’ve expected this team to be in this position. Battier said he sure didn’t expect this when he was swapped to Memphis at the trade deadline.
Ah, the advantages of being a young and loose team.
“Nobody thought we’d be in this position up 2-1 in the second round, so I think we’re just enjoying it,” Battier said. “Enjoy the ride, enjoying competing and we just want to play as long as we can.”
For the Grizzlies, that means being prepared to do what worked in that fourth quarter from the opening tip.
The Thunder keep clogging the paint to ensure Zach Randolph(notes) and Marc Gasol(notes) have no space to catch the ball near the basket or grab offensive rebounds. So guards Mike Conley(notes), O.J. Mayo(notes) and others must score from outside or use the pick and roll to open up lanes.
Randolph finished with 21 points and a franchise playoff record 21 rebounds, but five of those came in overtime after Mayo hit two 3s in the fourth quarter.
“There’s been other teams that have done what Oklahoma City has done,” Hollins said. “We’ve just changed up and done something different and loosen them up. We did that last night. I told the perimeter people, ‘You’re part of this team too, and you’ve got to do your job. You’ve got to attack. … We just can’t walk the ball up and throw it in the post.”
The Grizzlies know how the Thunder feel because they blew a bunch of games a season ago when they had been up by double digits. This season, Memphis won nine games when trailing by 10 or more in the second half, which tied the Grizzlies with Chicago and behind only Utah (10) in that category.
Conley said they know well how the Thunder are feeling right now.
“We need to remember what we did to get back in that game, remember how we played and what we did in order to get in position to win,” Conley said. “We can’t afford to be down.”