On a night when news of Kevin Durant winning the league’s MVP award began to spread, he played like it for the second straight contest.
Durant scored a game-high 33 points on just 18 shots, including hitting all five of his attempts from three-point distance while leading his team to a 120-109 Game 7 victory over the shorthanded Memphis Grizzlies.
This was the outcome everyone expected, once Zach Randolph was rightfully suspended by the league for a punch he landed to the face of Steven Adams late in Game 6. But Memphis was able to put up perhaps a better fight than was expected over the game’s first 24 minutes.
Memphis changed its starting lineup out of both desperation and necessity, inserting Tony Allen and Mike Miller in order to go small, provide some shooting, and give themselves a fighting chance. The move paid off initially — the Grizzlies put up their highest-scoring quarter of the series in the first with 36 points, and led by as many as 11 early on.
Marc Gasol was brilliant in the opening frame, doing everything possible to set the tone for his team. He posted 13 points, three assists, three steals and a blocked shot in just 9:48 on the floor, while Memphis as a whole finished the period shooting 57.1 percent.
But the Grizzlies’ success was short-lived. OKC had taken a three-point lead by halftime thanks to a 13-point period from Durant, and by the end of the third, the Thunder had torn things apart.
Durant and Russell Westbrook were both masterful in this game, and while there was some extended garbage time late, it’s worth wondering if the Thunder can be stopped when the two are rolling like this. The pair combined for 60 points on 22-of-34 shooting, and Westbrook played perhaps his most complete game of the season, finishing with a triple-double line of 27 points, 10 rebounds and 16 assists.
Up next for the Thunder is the winner of the Clippers-Warriors series, with Game 1 of that second round matchup scheduled for Monday night in Oklahoma City.