As previously noted on BDL, Monday's Thunder/Grizzlies game was the finest contest of the playoffs so far. Over 63 minutes of play, both teams exercised maximum effort and pulled off a number of shocking and exciting plays.
The fans in Memphis could hardly have asked for anything more, except for a win. To their credit, they didn't let the result overshadow the amazing game they had the privilege to attend. From Geoff Calkins in the Commercial Appeal:
Now it was done. Now the epic was over. The Oklahoma City Thunder had defeated the Memphis Grizzlies in three overtimes, 133-123. So the fans stood and watched and cheered.
Yes, cheered. You couldn't help but cheer. Cheer for the effort. Cheer for this game of games. Cheer for the privilege of being a witness, and a part of it all.
The Grizzlies may or may not figure out a way to win Game 5 in Oklahoma City. They may or may not find a way to win this playoff series and advance to play Dallas in the Western Conference Finals.
But in a season of can-you-believe-this-moments, this may be the one that lingers longest in our memories. This night of drama and of history. This night when the game was as full and as wild and as brimming with peril and possibilities as the river that has been making some history of its own.
This loss was a devastating one for the Grizzlies in that they gave everything they had, appeared to have the momentum at various points in overtime and regulation, and came up just short. It's the kind of gut-wrenching defeat that can swing momentum in a series -- or, if you don't quite believe in that, then at least rob a team of a decent chance to win a key game before playing two of three on the road to close the series. A lot of teams don't get opportunities like this one, and the Grizzlies didn't take advantage of it.
But it was an amazing game the likes of which every fan in FedEx Forum on Monday night may never see again. Their team did everything they could possibly do, even after two huge foul-outs by guards Mike Conley and O.J. Mayo. Both teams put forth legendary efforts. Feeling downtrodden just because of the result would have been a sad addendum to the remarkable journey each fan experienced.
So they cheered, which may seem like a basic gesture but actually represents an impressive showing of perspective by the Memphis faithful. They deserve every great feeling this team has given.