MEMPHIS — Zach Randolph is doing everything he can to keep the Memphis Grizzlies’ memorable playoff run going as long as possible.
Randolph had 30 points and 13 rebounds, and the Grizzlies avoided elimination by beating the Oklahoma City Thunder 95-83 Friday night to push their NBA Western Conference semifinal series to Game 7.
The Grizzlies had never won a game before when facing elimination, but that was in 2004, ’05 and ’06, when they were swept out of the postseason each of those years. These Grizzlies not only are having the best playoff run in franchise history, but they now have won more games this postseason than any other No. 8 seed from the West.
Game 7 will be Sunday afternoon in Oklahoma City, with the winner advancing to play the well-rested Dallas Mavericks.
O.J. Mayo, who started in place of Sam Young, scored 16 points for Memphis. Mike Conley had 11 points and 12 assists and Tony Allen added 10 points as the Grizzlies also improved to 5-1 on their home court in this postseason. The sellout crowd stood for the entire second half, cheering to keep this stunning run going at least one more game.
Memphis outscored the Thunder 51-29 in the second half and 46-38 in the paint.
Russell Westbrook led the Thunder with 27 points, and James Harden had 14. Kevin Durant, the NBA’s leading scorer in the regular season, was held to a postseason-low 11 points.
Randolph had been limited to 19.8 points and 31.9 percent shooting since he scored a career-best 34 points in Game 1. He had been the focus of the Thunder’s defense.
But the power forward, named Friday to the All-NBA third team, scored 11 in the fourth to preserve Memphis’ lead. He scored six straight points, capped by a 12-foot fallaway jumper that sent the fans into a frenzy, chanting his nickname.
Oklahoma City just couldn’t get to the basket or sink shots in the second half. The Thunder had a fastbreak with Westbrook driving to the basket, but he just couldn’t finish the shot. Randolph came up with the rebound, and then Mayo hit a 19-footer to push the Grizzlies’ lead to 88-79 with 3:11 left.
The Thunder had their biggest lead at 54-41 just before halftime and looked ready to blow out Memphis, just as they did in Game 5 on Wednesday night in Oklahoma City.
But Shane Battier ended the first half with a 3-pointer, and the Grizzlies used that as the start of an 18-5 run into the third. Randolph’s bucket with 5:19 left in the third tied it at 59, Marc Gasol tied it again at 65, and Mayo’s three-point play put Memphis ahead to stay at 68-65 with 2:10 left.
Oklahoma City was only 6-of-22 from the floor in the third quarter compared to Memphis, which was 10-of-18 after shooting only 38.3 percent in the first half.
Durant picked up his second personal on a questionable offensive foul with 7:37 left in the first quarter and sat for the rest of the period. With Battier defending him most of the night, Durant went 1-of-10 from the floor in the second half.