Basketball / Sports

The Memphis Grizzlies' Mike Conley (11) shoots and draws a foul from the Oklahoma City Thunder's Derek Fisher (6) in Game 7 of a Western Conference quarterfinal at Chesapeake Energy Center during in Oklahoma City on Saturday, May 3, 2014. (Nikki Boertman/The Commercial Appeal/MCT)

Grizzlies fall to Thunder in Game 7 -- without suspended Zach Randolph

OKLAHOMA CITY -- The Memphis Grizzlies spent their entire season overcoming adversity and road blocks.

They just couldn't get over the last hump.

Playing without suspended forward Zach Randolph, the Grizzlies suffered a 120-109 Game 7 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder on Saturday night in Chesapeake Energy Arena.

Memphis was eliminated in the first round after reaching the Western Conference Finals last season.

Marc Gasol tried his best to give the Griz a low-post presence and finished with 24 points. Mike Conley added 20 points and nine assists.

But the Griz couldn't overcome Kevin Durant's 33 points on 12 of 18 shooting that included 5 of 5 from three-point range. Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook chipped in 27 points, 16 assists and 10 rebounds to earn his third career playoff triple-double and his second in the series.

Oklahoma City closed out the series by shooting 60.9 percent overall and 57.9 percent from long range.

Meanwhile, the Griz had other problems.

Randolph sat out a one-game suspension for punching Thunder center Steven Adams in the jaw in Game 6. Conley played with a strained right hamstring. Tony Allen had to clear up an eye infection that prevented him from participating in the Grizzlies' morning shootaround.

Griz coach Dave Joerger decided to play small from the opening tip. He inserted Allen and Mike Miller into the starting lineup with Conley, Gasol and Courtney Lee.

The small lineup proved to be formidable but faded in the second half.

Oklahoma City, playing fast and free, began the third quarter on a 17-5 run. Memphis never recovered. The Griz trailed by double digits for all but 20 seconds in the second half.

The Griz trailed 61-58 at halftime but led by as many as 11 points in the first half.

Joerger said before the game that the Griz would play faster relative to their normal pace. But Joerger cautioned that Memphis wouldn't get caught up in a frenetic pace that leads to chaos.

"We can't play like the Houstons, Portlands and the Thunder," Joerger said.

Instead, the Griz did a couple of things to bear perfection that made the Thunder realize early that Memphis wouldn't be an easy out. The Griz went to Gasol early and often, and the 7-footer delivered in the post.

Memphis also generated shots for others with crisp, decisive ball movement that had the Thunder defense scrambling. The Griz assisted 10 of their first 12 field goals. Their defense also compensated for a lack of rebounding early on.

Oklahoma City controlled the glass but Memphis forced turnovers that lead to high percentage shots.

After forcing seven turnovers and shooting 57 percent, the Griz led 36-27 at the end of the opening period. It was the most points the Griz scored in any first quarter this season.

(c)2014 The Commercial Appeal (Memphis, Tenn.)

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GRIZZLIES


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