OKLAHOMA CITY -- Memphis has never been about the flash. It has always been about the grind and work of the game.
So when the Grizzlies found themselves leading by only two points in the fourth quarter against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday, they didn't get rattled. They just went back to work and pulled out a 88-84 victory at the Chesapeake Energy Arena.
The Grizzlies won the series four games to one, and they advance to the Western Conference finals for the first time in franchise history. The loss ended the Thunder's season well short of where they finished last season, in the NBA Finals.
"I am proud of my guys, one through 15," Memphis guard Tony Allen said. "We are fighting hard, we are fighting together. We hold our hats on the defensive end. I love the fact that we continue to stick to the system."
The series clincher wasn't easy. With Oklahoma City down by two, Kevin Durant missed a jumper in the final seconds that could have tied the game. Allen got the rebound and was fouled, and his two free throws sealed the victory.
Oklahoma City cut Memphis' lead to 80-73 with two minutes remaining, and Serge Ibaka came up with a blocked shot to give ball back to the Thunder. Ibaka took a pass from Kevin Durant to throw down a dunk, slicing the deficit to five.
However, Ibaka fouled out on the Grizzlies' next possession when Allen picked up a fastbreak layup. The resulting three-point play pushed the advantage back to eight points.
After two Nick Collison buckets, Oklahoma City was back within 83-79 with 49 seconds remaining. However, Marc Gasol quieted the raucous crowd with a shot-clock-buzzer-beating 17-foot jump shot with 27 seconds to go.
Oklahoma City's Kevin Martin two free throws before Memphis' Zach Randolph made one of two foul shots.
The Thunder's Reggie Jackson drained a 3-pointer with 14 seconds left, closing the gap to 86-84. Randolph went back to the line and missed both attempts. Durant got the rebound with 10.9 seconds to play. It was one last chance for Durant to come through again, as he did in Game 1.
This time, though, Durant had Allen on him, and his 15-foot jump shot was off the mark. Allen then made the clinching foul shots.
"I just wanted to be big and hit those free throws and get us out of here," said Allen, who scored 11 points. "We were seconds away from the (Western Conference finals). That's all I was thinking. Just knock these free throws down. Thank God I was able to do that."
Memphis rode Randolph the entire night. He poured in 28 points and grabbed 14 rebounds. Mike Conley added 13 points and 11 assists. Gasol was held to 10 points, but chipped in with seven rebounds, three steals and three blocks.
"He came out snorting and grunting from the beginning," Memphis coach Lionel Hollins said of Randolph.
Durant paced the Thunder with 21 points on 5-for-21 shooting. He also racked up eight rebounds and six assists to go along with seven turnovers.
Ibaka had 17 points and eight rebounds. Jackson contributed 16 points, nine rebounds and five assists.
"Sometimes you have to ride out the storm to get to the sunset," Durant said. "I gave it all I had for my team. I left it all out on the floor."
Durant started the contest 0-for-6 from the field as he continued to force shots against a tight Grizzlies defense. But unlike previous games, his teammates found a way to get involved. That included Ibaka and Kevin Martin, who combined for 15 first-quarter points.
"I thought he played like it was an elimination game," Allen said of Durant. "He tried to do everything by himself. He kind of forced a lot of things. That's just a great team defense."
Memphis spread the wealth in the early going. Mike Conley, Randolph and Jerryd Bayless all got into the action, but it was Randolph who set the tone with his inside play that Oklahoma City seemed unable to stop. Whether it was his multitude of post up moves or his work on the glass, he wore down the Thunder.
"Relentless determination," Oklahoma City coach Scott Brooks said. "He's an aggressive offensive rebounder. He's an aggressive low-post player. He has so many shots that he throws at you. He's a handful. He's an all-star player. He's been like that ever since he came into this league. He can score down on the block. He doesn't look like he can do it. He doesn't have that body that you think that can score. He doesn't jump very high, but he has determination."
Collison was brought into the game to matchup with Randolph, but he picked up three fouls in less than six minutes.
Frustration started to set in late in the half for the Thunder, who argued every foul call and non-call.
"We fought every single game," Durant said. "Every game came down to the last few minutes. It was unfortunate we didn't come out on the winning side."
NOTES: After making the announcement in Dallas that the NBA Board of Governors had voted down the relocation bid to move the Sacramento Kings franchise to Seattle, commissioner David Stern flew to Oklahoma City for Game 5. It's the first time this postseason Stern has been in Oklahoma City. "David Stern gives us the news and then states he has to run so he can make the OKC game," former Seattle SuperSonics star Detlef Schrempf posted on Twitter. "Maybe just a tad insensitive?" ... Randolph is a dying breed, according to Brooks. Despite averaging almost 19 points and more than seven rebounds a game, he is not the prototypical post player team the Thunder normally face. "The game, power post, is no longer there as much," Brooks said. "There are a few players in the league that can score with their back to the basket. Not a lot of them. Just the game has changed. It's been changing for over a decade now."