The Grizzlies had to overcome a huge night from Kevin Durant, who scored 37 points on 15-of-28 shooting.
Last season’s Defensive Player of the Year, Grizzlies’ center Marc Gasol, made his return to the court after missing 22 games because of a knee injury. He last played in a game back on November 22 in a 102-86 loss to the San Antonio Spurs. He suffered a left grade 2 MCL sprain 10 minutes into that game.
On Tuesday, Gasol finished with 12 points on three-of-seven shooting and four rebounds in 24 minutes.
The Grizzlies got off to a good start, taking an eight-point lead after one quarter, but the Thunder stormed back, dominating the second quarter, outscoring the Grizzlies 31-19, to take a four-point lead into the break. The Grizzlies exploded for 29 third quarter points and had a five-point lead entering the final quarter.
The Grizzlies stretched their lead to seven in the fourth quarter, but the Thunder responded with a 6-0 run. The Grizzlies scored seven of the game’s next nine points to extend the lead back to six. Trailing 84-78, Durant scored on the Thunder’s next three possessions while holding the Grizzlies to just two points on a Gasol jumper during that span. Zach Randolph pushed the lead to three with 1:35 to play and the two teams exchanged misses on the next four possessions. After a timeout, Durant found Serge Ibaka open in the corner, but his shot was off of the mark. Randolph hit one of two free throws on the other end. Ibaka connected on a three with just over four seconds to go, but the Grizzlies were able to run three seconds off of the clock before a foul was called. Lee hit both free throws and the Thunder’s prayer fell short.
Randolph added 23 points, 13 rebounds, four assists and a block while Mike Conley had 19 points and seven assists for the Grizzlies.
Thunder point guard Reggie Jackson scored 17 points and grabbed six rebounds.
The Grizzlies are now 18-19 while the Thunder are 28-10.