OKLAHOMA CITY – Down by one in the final minute, the Oklahoma City’s Derek Fisher turned a tough situation for the Thunder into the worst-case scenario for the Grizzlies.
Fisher poked the ball away from Memphis’ Mike Conley, springing three-time NBA scoring champion Kevin Durant into the open court with a chance to put the Thunder on top.
Durant pulled up and connected on a jumper with 11.1 seconds left for the last of his 35 points, lifting the Thunder to a 93-91 victory over the Grizzlies Sunday in Game 1 of the Western Conference semifinals.
“I just wanted to get up the floor as quick as possible and find a shot,” said Durant, who finished second in league MVP voting announced Sunday. “That was the only shot I could find and, by the grace of God, it went in.”
Game 2 is Tuesday night in Oklahoma City.
Thabo Sefolosha kept the Grizzlies from going back ahead, deflecting a pass that Conley was able to corral – but only after diving out of bounds. Reggie Jackson then hit a pair of free throws for a three-point lead, and Quincy Pondexter couldn’t force overtime after getting fouled while attempting a 3-pointer with 1.6 seconds left.
Pondexter, a 72 percent career free-throw shooter, missed the first free throw. He made his second attempt before intentionally missing the third, but Durant swatted the rebound away and Marc Gasol’s attempt at a buzzer-beater was late.
“We couldn’t get stops. That’s why we lost,” said Gasol, who had 20 points and 10 rebounds. “We didn’t lose because of free throws.”
Indiana 102, New York 95: David West scored 20 points, Paul George added 19 and the Indiana Pacers beat the New York Knicks 102-95 in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals.
D.J. Augustin had 16 points for the Pacers, who built a 16-point lead while Carmelo Anthony was on the bench in foul trouble in the third quarter, and easily held on to spoil the Knicks’ first second-round game since 2000.
Anthony finished with 27 points and 11 rebounds, but was frustrated by the Pacers’ rugged defense and by the referees. He shot 10 of 28 from the field.
Game 2 is here Tuesday night, and then the series takes a lengthy break before Game 3 on Saturday in Indiana.
The Pacers, who allowed the second-fewest points per game and the lowest field goal percentage in the league during the regular season, mixed in solid offense as well. They outscored New York 59-38 across the middle two quarters and were comfortably ahead throughout the fourth.
Roy Hibbert scored 14 points in thoroughly outplaying counterpart Tyson Chandler, and George Hill also had 14 for the Pacers.
J.R. Smith scored 17 points but was 4 of 15 for the Knicks. Raymond Felton had 18 and Kenyon Martin added 12 for the Knicks, who hope to have reserves Amare Stoudemire (right knee surgery) and Steve Novak (back spasms) back for Game 3 and certainly looked as if they could use the help.
Both teams wrapped up their first-round series Friday night, the Knicks’ victory in Game 6 in Boston giving them their first series victory in 13 years and sending them on to face a familiar postseason foe in Indiana, which ousted Atlanta.