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Thunder steal Game 1 from Grizzlies, 93-91

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OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - Kevin Durant scored 35 points and hit a pair of jumpers in the final minute to lift the Oklahoma City Thunder to a 93-91 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies on Sunday in Game 1 of the Western Conference semifinals.

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Derek Fisher poked the ball away from Mike Conley to spring Durant the other way, and he pulled up to make a shot with 11.1 seconds left that put Oklahoma City up 91-90.

Quincy Pondexter had a chance to send the game to overtime when he was fouled attempting a 3-pointer with Memphis trailing 93-90 and 1.6 seconds remaining. But he missed the first free throw.

On the Grizzlies' previous possession, Thabo Sefolosha deflected an inbounds pass, and Conley landed out of bounds while diving for the ball. Reggie Jackson then hit two free throws to make the lead three.

But Jackson hacked Pondexter on his right arm before he released a 3-pointer from the left wing in an attempt to tie it. Pondexter, a 72 percent career free-throw shooter, made his second attempt before purposefully missing the third, but Durant swatted the rebound away and Marc Gasol's attempt at a buzzer-beater was late.

The Grizzlies got 20 points and 10 rebounds from Gasol and 18 points and 10 rebounds from Zach Randolph. Pondexter and Conley scored 13 apiece.

Kevin Martin scored 25 for Oklahoma City, which trailed for much of the game but was able to avoid repeating its Game 1 loss from when these two teams met in the West semifinals two years ago. The Thunder were able to rally and win that series in seven.

Game 2 is Tuesday night in Oklahoma City.

Conley made a pair of driving layups and a jumper as Memphis surged ahead with a 15-4 run early in the third quarter. The lead stretched to 70-58 when Conley hit a free throw following 3-pointers on back-to-back possessions by Pondexter and Tayshaun Prince.

The Thunder started to rally before Pondexter's buzzer-beater from the half-court logo to finish the third quarter bumped the lead up to 73-64. That didn't stop Oklahoma City's comeback, though.

Martin converted a three-point play and a 3-pointer as the Thunder scored nine of the first 11 points of the fourth quarter, prompting Memphis coach Lionel Hollins to call a timeout with the lead down to 75-73 with 10:08 left.

Randolph banked in a jumper to stabilize the Grizzlies, and Prince followed with a 3-pointer from the right corner to push the lead back to seven.

Durant then sandwiched a pair of driving buckets around Derek Fisher's 3-pointer as Oklahoma City pieced together seven consecutive points to tie it at 84 with 3:47 to play.

The Grizzlies went back up 90-87 when Serge Ibaka missed one of two free throws and Gasol followed with a hook shot with 1:08 to go.

It was a competitive new chapter in an increasingly fierce rivalry, but there weren't any scuffles between the two teams this time. They had combined for nine technical fouls in three meetings during the regular season, including one confrontation that got Randolph and Kendrick Perkins ejected.

It ended up being almost dead even in several key categories: Oklahoma City had two more rebounds (43-41), four more points in the paint (36-32) and two fewer turnovers (12-10). Each team scored only four second-chance points.

Notes: Durant finished second in the MVP voting behind LeBron James. He got 93 of the 121 second-place votes in the balloting announced Sunday. ... The Thunder made their first nine shots in their only win of the season against Memphis, the best start to a game by an NBA team this season. They missed their first 10 in this one. ... Nick Collison was called for a flagrant foul after leveling Prince on a baseline drive in the second quarter.

AP NEWS
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The Associated Press
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