Mr. Unreliable lived up to his nickname again.
Kevin Durant, dubbed Mr. Unreliable by the Daily Oklahoman ahead of Game 6, once again proved the newspaper wrong as he turned in a second consecutive big game to help secure a Game 7 win for the Thunder.
Durant exploded for 33 points on 12-18 from the floor after struggling for much of the series against Memphis’ stingy defense. He was also a perfect 5-5 from behind the three-point line.
Russell Westbrook also turned in his best performance of the playoffs, finishing with a triple-double 27 points, 10 rebounds and a playoff career-high 16 assists.
The Grizzlies were always underdogs heading into a Game 7 in front of one of the loudest crowds in the league and were dealt numerous blows in the build-up for this game.
Zach Randolph was suspended for his part in an altercation with Steven Adams, Tony Allen almost didn’t play with an eye injury and Mike Conley was heavily hampered by a hamstring injury.
Memphis was forced to trade in it’s slow, methodical, grind-it-out style for a high-tempo long-range offense and it had appeared successful for much of the first half.
Then reality struck. Randolph’s suspension was more impactful on the defensive end as they were forced into several mismatches.
The Thunder began to pull away in the third quarter on a big run fuelled by Durant’s shot-making. Oklahoma City started the second-half with a 10-2 run.
Memphis tried gamely to claw back the deficit but found Durant waiting every time they got close. He hit another three-pointer when the Grizzlies had pulled within 12, extending the lead to 78-63 and forcing a Memphis timeout.
It marked a frustrating end to a frustrating season for the Memphis Grizzlies, who will feel they never got a fair chance to show their abilities among an avalanche of injuries that robbed them of key players all season. To then lose Randolph for this decisive game proved the fatal blow.
Oklahoma City Thunder
Kevin Durant: 33 points, 12-18 FGS, 8 rebounds
Russell Westbrook: 27 points, 10-16 FGS, 10 rebounds, 16 assists
Reggie Jackson: 16 points, 5-6 FGS
Marc Gasol: 24 points, 7-20 FGS, 6 assists
Mike Conley: 20 points, 7-14 FGS, 9 assists
Courtney Lee: 16 points, 5-10 FGS
The Oklahoma City Thunder win 4-3, will face the Los Angeles Clippers in the Western Conference Semi-Finals.