MEMPHIS — Memphis Grizzlies coach Dave Joerger will take what he can get.
After Oklahoma City Thunder stars Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook combined for 60 points in Game 3, Joerger was the one smiling. Memphis took a 2-1 series lead with another overtime victory.
"They didn't have 40," Joerger said candidly. "I thought we did OK. We contained them. We just try to make it tough for those guys."
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Both Durant and Westbrook have made jaw-dropping four-point plays in this series and are averaging 60.3 points a game combined. It hasn't mattered against a healthy Grizzlies squad that's playing like the team that went to the Western Conference Finals last year — spelling a bad dose of déjà vu for the Thunder after last season's second-round exit against Memphis.
Suddenly, Durant's MVP season and the Thunder's path to the Finals have been complicated by an all-too-familiar foe.
Weathering the storm — that's been the unofficial game plan for the Grizzlies, who continue to use their hard-nosed defense and methodical offensive pace to beat a team with two superstars.
"We want to just be alert with those two guys; we understand Kevin Durant is going to get his," said Grizzlies guard Tony Allen, who has defended Durant late in games. "We just can't get discouraged. We stick to what we do and hold our hats on the defensive end."
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The Thunder are exuding all the telltale signs of a team relying far too heavily on its star players, particularly in late-game situations. Starting with six minutes left in the fourth quarter, Durant and Westbrook took 16 of the Thunder's 18 shots, including nine of the last 10 in overtime. Their third option, power forward Serge Ibaka, was a non-factor in the second-half and didn't attempt a shot in overtime.
"We've gotta go back to the drawing board," said shooting guard Thabo Sefolosha, who finished with seven points on 2-for-3 shooting in Game 3. "I think the bottom line is they're playing a little bit harder than us for 48 minutes."
The solution might be simple for the Thunder.
"We have to make some shots," Oklahoma City coach Scott Brooks said. "I don't know if they were all good shots. ... We are a shot-making team. We were a high field-goal percentage team all year long."
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Durant went 0-for-8 from beyond the arc in Game 3, 10-for-27 overall. Westbrook finished 4-for-13 on threes but 9-for-26 overall.
"I think personally we missed a lot of good looks," Durant said. "We have to come out and play with a little bit more sense of urgency and hopefully our shots go down."
Westbrook added, "I took some bad ones. We have to do a better job of attacking them."
But offensive aggressiveness doesn't always equate to offensive efficiency, especially against Memphis' "grit-and-grind" style.
"I think we controlled the tempo by our defense," Grizzlies point guard Mike Conley said. "Our aggression, defensively, made them a half court team. When you do that, the game is more our pace that we play. Grind it out style basketball, that's what we do."
There were positive takeaways and a confidence boost that came from the loss for Oklahoma City, which stormed back from a 17-point deficit to force overtime by using its defense to revive its offense.
"I like the fact that we battled back," Brooks said. "We just kept plugging away and continued to battle through some of the tough offensive possessions. Then we started scoring off our defense. ... A lot of positives. One of the positives is that we've been here before with this Grizzlies team, a team that we respect. We knew it was going to be a very physical series."
Center Kendrick Perkins echoed his coach's sentiments and think the Thunder still have plenty of "daylight."
"I think we hung our hats on the defensive end and it translated to offense," Perkins said. "We've gotta put 48 minutes together against this team. At the end of the day, this series is far from over. There's a lot of basketball to be played."
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