Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Grizzlies ambush sloppy Thunder

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Serge Ibaka missed not one, but two dunks. He missed layups and even a couple short jumpers and longer wide-open looks.

And most of his teammates weren't much better.

The Oklahoma City Thunder shot 36.4 per cent from the field on Saturday, including only one field goal in the final 3 minutes, losing to the Memphis Grizzlies 87-81 in the Western Conference semifinals. It was their worst scoring and shooting performance this post-season.

Memphis now has a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series with Game 4 here on Monday night.

"Everything was good other than we couldn't make a basket," Thunder coach Scott Brooks said after his team shot 33 per cent in the second half, including 20 per cent in the third frame. "Eighty-eight shot attempts and we got pretty good looks. We missed a couple of easy, easy, easy (baskets). I wish we could get those same shots."

Kevin Durant led the Thunder with 25 points, but was only 9 of 19 in one of his lowest-scoring performance of the post season. He went 3 for 11 in the second half when Memphis guard Tony Allen hounding him most of the time.

"It's not one-on-one defence," Durant said. "He's a great defender. Don't get me wrong. But it's the Grizzlies' team defence. I need to make the right plays for my team."

Reggie Jackson, Oklahoma City's replacement at point guard for the injured Russell Westbrook, scored 16 points and grabbed 10 rebounds. Ibaka and Kevin Martin both scored 13 points, Ibaka also grabbing 10 rebounds and blocking four shots. But Ibaka struggled from the field, going 6 for 17, and the missed dunks weren't his only shooting issues.

"We have to continue to give him confidence and continue to build him up," Durant said of Ibaka. "He missed few blocks, a few layups and a few open jump shots. I have to pick him up, and that's what I've been doing."

The Thunder's shooting woes was just part of the sloppy game from both teams in a game with very little flow and the pace more conducive to Memphis' style. Still, the Thunder controlled the boards 41-44, including a 14-5 advantage on the offensive glass. And Oklahoma City also held a 44-30 advantage in the paint - all categories that Memphis usually wins.

The Thunder seemed to be in position when Derek Fisher connected on his only 3-pointer of the night with 1:58 left to tie the game at 81.

Oklahoma City would not score again, missing three shots down the stretch. While that was bad, the key was Durant. The 91 per cent free throw shooter in the regular season missed two with 39.3 seconds left and the Grizzlies leading 85-81.

-- The Associated Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 12, 2013 B11

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