OKLAHOMA CITY -- Memphis coach Lionel Hollins doesn't like to talk about how tough his team is. He'd rather let the Grizzlies show it on the court.
The Grizzlies did just that Wednesday when they took on the Oklahoma City Thunder. They battered, bruised and physically outplayed the defending Western Conference champions on their way to a 107-97 victory at the Chesapeake Energy Arena.
In a game that featured two teams that pride themselves on how hard they play, it was Memphis (6-1) that came up with all the big defensive stands and huge shots in the fourth quarter every time Oklahoma City (6-3) made a run.
After getting the lead down to 97-89 with more than four minutes left, Oklahoma City looked as if it were set to give Memphis a scare. But the Grizzlies went to Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph on consecutive trips, and the big men restored order. The Thunder had no answer, and fans began to stream out of the building.
Memphis' Rudy Gay poured in 28 points with Kevin Durant guarding him the entire night. He shot 12-for-21 from the floor, hauled in six rebounds and made five assists.
Randolph added 20 points and 11 rebounds before he was tossed out of the game after getting into an altercation with the Thunder's Kendrick Perkins.
Durant posted 34 points and 10 rebounds in the loss. Thunder guard Russell Westbrook chipped in with 17 points, 13 assists and six boards, but it wasn't enough to slow down a hot shooting Grizzlies squad.
Thabo Sefolosha sparked the Thunder early with a couple of 3-pointers as they took a 10 point lead in the first quarter.
Memphis slowly closed the gap in the second period. Even though the Grizzlies weren't shooting well from the field, they were able to claw their way back, tying the game at 36 with 6:35 left in the first half.
What makes the Grizzlies such a tough opponent for the Thunder is their tough defense. Whether it's Tony Allen hand-checking Westbrook up the court or Rudy Gay getting chest to chest with Durant, the Grizzlies relish it.
Memphis outscored Oklahoma City 36-15 in the second quarter. The Thunder committed eight turnovers while the Grizzlies gave the ball away only once.
Coming out of halftime, Memphis didn't let up. Randolph began to exert himself, including grabbing a rebound over Perkins and putting it back up. Randolph did the same then the next time down the court as the Grizzlies found themselves leading 65-49.
The intensity picked up in the period as the teams exchanged verbal jabs and stare-downs after several baskets. Oklahoma City was able to close the gap to 81-71 heading into the fourth.
NOTES: The Grizzlies began the night ranked second in the NBA in point differential at plus-9.0. Last season, Memphis was ranked seventh. ... When Memphis coach Lionel Hollins was describing what his team needs to do to slow down Durant and Westbrook, he evoked a couple legendary names. "One of the things that makes Durant's job easier is having Westbrook have the ball in his hands," Hollins said. "You have to contend with Westbrook, then there is Durant, who is up for MVP. That's a heck of a thing to have. It's kind of like Magic and Kareem." ... Players and coaches around the NBA were mourning the death Memphis assistant general manager Kenny Williamson, who died of cancer Tuesday. The 65-year old Williamson, who was known as Eggman, was in his sixth season with the Grizzlies. He also had stints with Charlotte and New York, and he worked 21 years as an assistant coach for various colleges. "I've known Eggman for a while," Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. "He was always great to me. He was a special man in this league. He seems to have friends wherever he has gone. He will definitely be missed."