Grizzlies 87, Thunder 81
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.
Oklahoma shot 36.4 percent from the field on Saturday, including only one field goal in the final 3 minutes, losing to host Memphis in the Western Conference semifinals. It was their worst scoring and shooting performance this postseason.
Memphis now has a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series with Game 4 in Memphis on Monday night.
“Everything was good other than we couldn’t make a basket,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks said after his team shot 33 percent in the second half, including 20 percent in the third frame.
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.
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.
“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,” Durant said.
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 percent free throw shooter in the regular season missed two with 39.3 seconds left and the Grizzlies leading 85-81.
Meanwhile, Memphis hit all six of its free throws in the final 1:03 to take the lead in the series.
Marc Gasol scored 20 points and hit two free throws with 1:03 left to put Memphis ahead to stay. Gasol scored 16 in the second half, and the Grizzlies hit all six at the line in the final 1:03 to clinch the win and remain unbeaten at home in the postseason.
Pacers 82, Knicks 71
Roy Hibbert had 24 points and 12 rebounds and Paul George had 14 points, eight rebounds and eight assist to lead the host Pacers past New York in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference semifinals.
The Pacers are up 2-1, with Game 4 of the best-of-seven series Tuesday in Indy.
Carmelo Anthony scored 21 points to lead the Knicks, who led only once in the game for a total of 76 seconds. New York spent the final 45 minutes trying to play catch-up but never did.
Amare Stoudemire looked rusty after returning from a two-month absence, going 3-of-8 from the field and finishing with seven points. J.R. Smith scored nine points after missing the morning shoot-around because of a 102-degree fever.
Indiana took control with a 14-3 run that gave it a 58-44 third-quarter lead, and the Knicks never got closer than eight.
The big questions heading into the game were whether Smith would play, whether Stoudemire would be effective and whether Indiana could get back to its brand of basketball.
Smith gave it a go, but his shooting problems continued as he went 4-of-12 from the field and walked straight to the locker room when he was replaced with 7:45 left in the game.
He returned to the game a few minutes later.
Stoudemire, meanwhile, hit a buzzer-beating 3-pointer in eight minutes and grabbed two rebounds.
The biggest difference between Games 2 and 3 was how the Pacers played.
Four days after being embarrassed in a 26-point loss at New York, the Pacers got tough. New York shot just 35.2 percent from the field and made only three 3s, Anthony got into foul trouble by picking up three in a 2:18 span during the third quarter and, of course, Indiana finished with a 53-40 rebounding advantage. The result: Instead of struggling over the final 18 minutes, the Pacers thrived.
Saturday’s loss marked the first time New York lost in this year’s playoffs while holding a team to fewer than 90 points.