The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Sports

December 28, 2011

Durant's 32 lifts Thunder over Grizzlies

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — —  Kevin Durant scored 32 points, James Harden added 20, and the Oklahoma City Thunder remained undefeated with a 98-95 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday night.

Durant, who started the game 1 of 7, made nine of his next 10 before making the clinching free throws with a second left.

Kendrick Perkins added 10 for Oklahoma City, but point guard Russell Westbrook had only four points, all on free throws while misfiring on 13 shots from the field. He made a pair with 4 seconds left before Memphis’ Zach Randolph connected on a 3-pointer with 1.8 seconds remaining to cut it to 96-95.

Randolph finished with 24 points, while Rudy Gay scored 19 and Marc Gasol added 16 points. Each had 12 rebounds, as Memphis held a 49-41 advantage on the boards. Jeremy Pargo, filling in for point guard Mike Conley, who aggravated a left ankle injury in the game’s early stages, had 15 points and seven assists, while committing only one turnover.

The game was an opening season showdown between two of the West’s young up-and-coming teams, who met in last season’s conference semifinals, won by the Thunder in seven games.

And at times the atmosphere had the physical play and intensity of a playoff game.  The jostling under the basket was rough, and the reaction of players to calls and no-calls was indicative of postseason play rather than an early contest.

Memphis missed its first 12 shots before Randolph made the Grizzlies’ first field goal with 4:04 left in the first quarter. Oklahoma City continued to lead through the second quarter despite Durant continuing to misfire until the final minutes of the half.

 He had 13 at the break, including hitting all six of his free throws.

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