Thunder roll past Grizzlies into second round
Kevin Durant and Serge Ibaka of the Oklahoma City Thunder battle with Tony Allen and Marc Gasol of the Memphis Grizzlies in Game Seven of the Western Conference Quarterfinals during the 2014 NBA Playoffs on May 3, 2014 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma - by Ronald Martinez
Russell Westbrook notched his second triple-double of the series with 27 points, 16 assists and 10 rebounds and Kevin Durant scored a game-high 33 points for the Thunder -- who won the best-of-seven Western Conference first-round series four games to three.
The Grizzlies, missing the suspended Zach Randolph and with Mike Conley nursing a sore hamstring, gave it all they had, taking a 36-27 lead after the first quarter and leading by as many as 11 in the second period before the Thunder inexorably asserted themselves.
Durant, expected to be named the NBA Most Valuable Player next week, was a perfect five-for-five from three point range and pulled down eight rebounds in the victory.
Marc Gasol led Memphis with 24 points and six assists and Conley battled through his injury to score 20 points with nine assists.
Both added four steals, but the Grizzlies just couldn't stop the Thunder.
The Grizzlies had led the series 3-2, but missed their chance to advance when they dropped game six in Memphis. Randolph, who led the Grizzlies in scoring with 18.9 points per game in the series, was suspended for game seven after punching Thunder rookie Steven Adams late in Thursday’s loss.
The Thunder next face either the Los Angeles Clippers or Golden State Warriors, who were battling in game seven of their series in Los Angeles later Saturday.
Golden State kept the series alive with a 100-99 victory on their home floor in Oakland, California, on Thursday against a Clippers team that has had to try to shut out the controversy surrounding owner Donald Sterling and focus on basketball.
Sterling was banned for life from NBA activities and fined $2.5 million by league commissioner Adam Silver after racially charged remarks he made in a private conversation became public.
The league is also taking steps to force him to sell the club.
Saturday's games were among a record five game sevens in the opening round of the NBA playoffs.
The total already matches the league record for the most seventh games in all rounds in any playoff year.