NBA playoffs: Grizzlies keep cool, beat Thunder
OKLAHOMA CITY — Nothing rattled the Memphis Grizzlies.
Not squandering a nine-point lead in the fourth quarter and a five-point lead in the final 19 seconds of regulation. Not Kevin Durant’s 20 points after the third quarter. Not even giving up an improbable game-tying putback that forced overtime.
The Grizzlies remained steady and took care of business in the extra period. Zach Randolph scored 25 points to help Memphis defeat the Oklahoma City Thunder 111-105 in overtime on Monday night and tie their first-round playoff series at one game apiece.
“It was just staying confident, understanding that those guys are going to make runs,” Memphis forward Tony Allen said. “We’ve got to weather the storm by staying together and not getting down.”
Mike Conley added 19 points and 12 assists for the Grizzlies, who executed their game plan perfectly and put themselves in position to take control of the series in Game 3 Thursday night in Memphis. Oklahoma City pushed the pace through most of its 100-86 victory in Game 1, but on Monday, the Grizzlies successfully slowed the tempo and limited Oklahoma City’s fast-break opportunities.
“Basically it’s just going to be a slugfest,” said Allen, who was praised by his teammates for playing solid defense against Durant. “We’re going to pound it. They’re going to run it. Whoever can come up with the most stops pretty much wins the game.”
Oklahoma City’s stars put up big numbers, but they worked for everything they got. Durant had 36 points and 11 rebounds, but he made just 12 of 28 shots and had just eight points at halftime and 16 through the first three quarters. Russell Westbrook scored 29 points for Oklahoma City, but he made just 11 of 28 shots. Serge Ibaka added 15 points and 11 rebounds for the Thunder, who shot just under 40 percent from the field.
“We missed some shots that we could make,” Oklahoma City coach Scott Brooks said. “Give them some credit. They did a good job of putting their hands on us and we didn’t free ourselves up enough. I thought in the second half, our defense and offense gave us a chance. Unfortunately, we didn’t make a couple of key plays down the stretch.”
Randolph’s layup with 26 seconds left in overtime put the Grizzlies up by two. Ibaka traveled, giving the ball back to the Grizzlies.
Courtney Lee made two free throws for Memphis to make it a four-point game. Durant missed a 3-pointer and Randolph made two free throws with nine seconds left to put the game out of reach and give Memphis’ Dave Joerger his first playoff win as a head coach.
“Tremendous game to be a part of,” Joerger said. “I honestly can tell you that, whether you win or lose. I know that we won. But I thought it was a great game to be a part of. The game was never over. There was a lot of great plays and not just the-ball-going-in kind of plays — loose ball, passion, playoff basketball.”
CLIPPERS 138, WARRIORS 98
LOS ANGELES — Blake Griffin scored a career playoff-high 35 points without a foul and the Clippers led all the way in routing the Warriors to even their first-round series at a game apiece.
Chris Paul added 12 points and 10 assists for the Clippers, who started the game on a 14-4 run and kept on going, maintaining a sizeable double-digit lead through the final three quarters. They finished with a franchise record points for a playoff game.
All the foul trouble that plagued Griffin and Paul in the Clippers’ four-point loss in Game 1 belonged to the Warriors this time.
Stephen Curry scored 20 of his 24 points in the third quarter, when the Warriors never got closer than 25 points, while playing with four fouls. Klay Thompson finished with seven points — 15 under his average — and four fouls.
Mike Woodson and Tyrone Corbin lost their jobs, and Rick Adelman decided it was time to walk away from his.
Woodson and Corbin were fired Monday and Adelman retired, creating coaching openings for three NBA teams.
Woodson was expected to be replaced after Phil Jackson was hired last month as New York Knicks president during a disappointing season for a team that expected to make the playoffs. He informed Woodson and the entire coaching staff they were being dismissed Monday morning.
“The coaches and players on this team had an extremely difficult 2013-14 season, and blame should not be put on one individual. But the time has come for change throughout the franchise as we start the journey to assess and build this team for next season and beyond,” Jackson said in a statement.
Woodson went 109-79 with the Knicks, a .580 winning percentage that ranks behind only Pat Riley and Jeff Van Gundy in franchise history. But after winning 54 games and the Atlantic Division title last season, the Knicks were just 37-45.
The Jazz had no such expectations for this season after the departures of Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap, but declined to offer Corbin a new contract after they went 25-57. Corbin, a former Jazz player and assistant who replaced Jerry Sloan on Feb. 10, 2011, went 112-146.
“This has not been an easy decision, but after a thorough review process, we as an organization feel that this is the best decision for our franchise moving forward,” general manager Dennis Lindsay said.
Adelman won more than 1,000 games in 23 seasons, but the Minnesota Timberwolves were a disappointing 40-42 this season. He wanted to spend more time with wife Mary Kay, who has been treated for seizures over the last two years, and also thinks the Wolves need a fresh voice to help them try to persuade star power forward Kevin Love to remain in Minnesota.
“If anything, I felt if I coached another year and then his future comes up and my future is gone, that makes it even harder,” Adelman said. “I think it’s best for the organization to have somebody else coaching the team, give them a year to see what they can do and hear that voice. I think that’s a much more positive situation for the organization. I feel strongly about that.”
The Detroit Pistons are still looking for a full-time coach after firing Maurice Cheeks during the season, and the Los Angeles Lakers could decide to replace Mike D’Antoni after going 27-55 during an injury-plagued season.
NBA fines Raptors GM for profanity
NEW YORK — The NBA has fined Toronto Raptors general manager Masai Ujiri $25,000 for using profanity in a public place.
Ujiri was speaking at a public rally Saturday before the Raptors hosted the Brooklyn Nets in Game 1 of their first round playoff series when he used an expletive. He later apologized.
The NBA announced the penalty Monday night, a day before the Raptors host the Nets in Game 2.
By wire sources
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