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NBA playoffs: Thunder defeat Grizzlies in triple-overtime thriller

NBA playoffs: The Oklahoma City Thunder, in the first triple-overtime NBA playoff game since a 2009 Celtics-Bulls contest, defeated the Memphis Grizzlies Monday night at Fedex Forum. Their second-round series is now knotted at two games apiece.

By Christopher HartmanContributor / May 10, 2011

Oklahoma City Thunder Kevin Durant (C) drives to the basket past Memphis Grizzlies Zach Randolph (50) and Shane Battier (R) during the first half of NBA basketball action in Memphis, Tennessee, May 9.

Mark Weber/Reuters

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Monday night’s Game 4 between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Memphis Grizzlies was reminiscent of Game 5 in the the 1976 NBA Finals between the Boston Celtics and the Phoenix Suns, known variously as “The Longest Day” and “The Greatest Game” in NBA annals – taking three heart-pounding overtime periods to complete.

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To most fans, that classic match-up appeared seemingly out of the blue, but has since entered the collective consciousness of NBA fans worldwide. When the Thunder-Grizzlies encounter entered its third overtime session, you could sense a similar atmosphere in Fedex Forum.

In the end, the Thunder fought back from the brink, weathering two Memphis three-pointers – by guard Mike Conley at the end of regulation and rookie guard Greivis Vasquez with ten seconds left in the first overtime period – to gut out a critical 133-123 win. But the outcome of the game seemed almost incidental to the remarkable performances it featured.

The Thunder’s Russell Westbrook tallied 40 points, while teammate Kevin Durant added 35; the Grizzlies’ Zach Randolph (34 points) and Marc Gasol (26 points) rounded out the top scorers. And Westbrook, who has taken heat lately for his relatively poor shot selection, was more patient with his jump shots, and only had three turnovers in over 50 minutes on the floor.

Oklahoma City was the essence of steely resolve last night – coming back from a 17-point deficit with six minutes left in the first half to close the gap to 53-49. But as the night went on and the fouls mounted, both they and the Grizzlies were forced to go to the reserve well.

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