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Thunder push Grizzlies to brink of elimination
The Memphis Grizzlies couldn’t be more upset _ at themselves.
All their anger is pointed at their own missed shots, lackluster play and the missed opportunity that now has them playing from behind for the first time this postseason.
Now coach Lionel Hollins is curious to see how they react.
Guard Mike Conley said Thursday the coach warned his Grizzlies this is their first real adversity during these playoffs. Memphis now has lost two straight, including a 99-72 blowout in Oklahoma City on Wednesday night that put the Thunder up 3-2 in this Western Conference semifinal.
This is the first time this postseason Memphis has lost two straight, including a 99-72 blowout in Oklahoma City on Wednesday night that put the Thunder up 3-2 in this Western Conference semifinal. Game 6 is Friday night in Memphis with the Grizzlies trying to avoid elimination and force Game 7 back in Oklahoma City on Sunday.
“He says this is where we find out who we are,” Conley said. “Find out the kind of people we are. The kind of players we are. You don’t know until your back is against the wall, and everything is up for grabs. This will be a good test for us.”
Hollins said this series now is just one game. He also noted his Grizzlies missed 18 layups Wednesday night.
“Come on. That’s not us ,” Hollins said. “We make half of those layups, that’s 18 points. It’s still there for us. It’s not over. We just have to believe. We don’t have to listen to anybody outside and what they say in their analysis of the series. We just have to go out there and play.”
Oklahoma City coach Scott Brooks gave his Thunder the day off Thursday, though players came in to watch film, get treatment, lift weights or shoot on their own. Russell Westbrook did just that, getting on the court with assistant coach Maurice Cheeks.
The Thunder now are a win away from their first Western finals since 1996 when the then-Seattle SuperSonics beat Utah in seven games before losing to Chicago in the NBA finals. Brooks said they know the FedExForum will be very challenging even though they won there Monday night in triple overtime.
“The close-out game in basketball is the hardest game to play because they’re going to give everything they have, and their crowd is going to get behind them,” Brook said. “And we just have to really be able to maintain our composure and play through everything and just play with force and play together.”
Oklahoma City survived early turnovers Wednesday night and settled down so well that starters like Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook got to rest with neither playing more than 31 minutes. Brooks emptied his bench late, though some Thunder started throwing up some 3-pointers late even with a big lead.
“We must be focused on Game 6 and what we need to do to get better,” Durant said after the big win.
The Grizzlies stewed over the loss, but Zach Randolph said any Thunder celebration won’t be energizing them for Friday night.
“It wasn’t a good game for us. None of us. We missed a lot of shots We know what we’ve got to do. We’ve got to come out and got to play hard, with effort and make the shots we usually hit,” he said.
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