I have long believed that David Stern, if he thought he could get away with it, would stretch playoff series to nine games. This series with the Grizzlies already seems to have reached eight or so: the games have been long grinds, that apparently being Memphis’ favored pace. What’s more, Game 3 went into overtime; so did Game 4, when Mike Conley landed one from 26 feet with three and a half seconds left to tie it at 96. In Game 3, though, the Griz dominated those extra five minutes; tonight, they came from behind, and after both Conley and O. J. Mayo fouled out, Greivis Vasquez hit the long ball from just about the same place with nine seconds left to tie it at 109.
So there was double overtime, and it was 119-all when the Griz got three reasonable looks, missed them all, and with 6.3 left, the Thunder were unable to buy a bucket.
So there was triple overtime, and finally the Griz had nothing else up their sleeve: the Thunder pulled this one out, 133-123, and the series goes back to Oklahoma City Wednesday night.
Of all the things the Thunder could have done to beat Memphis — block Conley from beyond the arc, bottle up Marc Gasol and Zack Randolph — they did essentially none of them. (Gasol had 26 points and 21 rebounds; Z-Bo 34 points and 16 boards. Conley shot only 2-12, but hit 11 of 12 from the foul line.)
Meanwhile, Russell Westbrook somehow rolled up 40 points, Kevin Durant added 35, James Harden brought 19 from the bench, and you can say that OKC shot 9 percent better — or that Memphis shot 9 percent worse. (The Griz went 40 for 111, a blah 36 percent.)
But numbers didn’t matter in this 63-minute game which took nearly four hours. At some point, it becomes simply a matter of survival. And the Thunder will survive for Game