The Grizzlies will not die. Not in Memphis anyway. On the back of a massive 30-13 performance by Zach Randolph, who would not be stopped by Nick Collison, Serge Ibaka, Kendrick Perkins or any other type of Thunder, the Grizzlies rallied from a 10-point first half deficit to keep this series going and set up the first Game 7 in franchise history.
This is the master list from that game. If you want a more traditional recap, go here.
As always these are real things that happened in a real game…
Top Five Basketball Moments
5) Loose ball frenzy
Two of these were memorable. One came in the fourth quarter, about 2:51 left with the Grizz up 88-79 and looking to close the game out. A crazy rebound bounced off hands and around the floor until Shane Battier flew in like a missile attacking the hardwood to secure the ball and pass ahead to a teammate. The effort was undeniable.
Two quarters earlier, Marc Gasol had an even more amazing loose ball effort play. On another botched handle, again on the Thunder side of the court, Gasol and the much quicker Thabo Sefolosha had an equal distance between them and a ball slowly rolling toward half court. Gasol managed to scoop up the roller and call timeout without even using his body. He just got there faster.
It was that kind of effort that had been missing from the Grizzlies for about six quarters prior to the event, and that kind of effort that propelled them in this victory.
4) The best dunk that didn’t count
With about two minutes left in the third quarter and the Grizzlies finally taking the lead on what was, at that time, a 26-12 run, Darrell Arthur barreled through Nick Collison for a jam reminiscent of a Blake Griffin highlight reel or O.J. Mayo’s physics defying dunk from Game 4 against the Spurs.
It was awesome, and it didn’t count. Nick Collison managed to eek a charging foul. Didn’t look like much of a call to most of the crowd, who didn’t realize the basket was null until they finished cheering for the spectacular dunk.
3) Tony Allen finishes a fast break
For more than three games now, the Grizzlies have struggled finishing and defending fast breaks. It’s been murder for them in this series and in direct contrast with their execution on such possessions in the regular season.
Well in the third quarter the Grizz started executing on those fast breaks. The change was a big part of the third quarter run, and none more memorable than an easy finish from Tony Allen.
With 9:40 left in the quarter, Tony Allen grabbed a fast break pass and dropped it in for a soft two-handed jam to extend the half-opening run to 6-0 and force a Thunder timeout. After a full game and two quarters of blown breaks and missed layups, it was a sign that the Grizzlies were becoming the Grizzlies again.
2) O.J. Mayo’s and-one
Lionel Hollins finally brought O.J. Mayo back into the starting lineup, and Juice made the most of it. Mayo finished with 16 points 4 rebounds 2 assists and 4 steals. Mayo nailed two three pointers, but none were as memorable as his fearless three-point play in the third quarter.
With 2:10 left in the period, Mayo dove into the lane and used his body like a heat seeking missile programmed for Kevin Durant’s torso. Mayo was able to convert the basket, get a whistle and latch a third foul onto Kevin Durant. The drive plus the free throw gave the Grizzlies their first lead since the first quarter at three points. It was neutralized seconds later on Durant’s only FG of the second half (which was also an and-one), but the tide had turned permanently.
1) Ibaka can’t deal with Z-Bo
If Mayo’s and-one was the turning point (and it was) Z-Bo’s fourth quarter performance was the foot on the neck, or the nail in the coffin, or chair in the back, or some other cliche.
Randolph massacred every Thunder big down the stretch. Mayo’s extra minutes had helped. Z-Bo had space and he made the Thunder pay by going back to the so-ugly-its beautiful layups and juggernaut post moves that have made him the darling of the city and the go-to-guy on the team.
The most memorable move came just before O.J.’s and-one, tying the game. Matched up one-on-one with Serge Ibaka about three feet from the paint, Z-Bo finalized his dominance over the big with a pivot, bump, pivot, bump, 360 pivot and lay-in that just said “You’re done #9. Accept it.”
Top Five “You had to be there” Moments
Does non-halftime entertainment get crazier than Whiplash the Cowboy Monkey? Apparently yes. In between the first and second quarters, the Grizzlies brought out “Christopher” (seriously this is how he was introduced) who was a one-man version of the Village People. See the picture above for proof. He performed to a village people medley. Wild.
4) Flood Video
Want to love Memphis enough to almost cry? Watch this video.
The Grizzlies have been knocking out the pre-game intro videos, but they sent the whole thing to another level by adding that vid to the normal one that plays before the player introductions. Perfect. Perfect. Seriously watch it.
3) Fun with signs, giant heads
Definitely a step up from the last game. One highlight was “We Believe Hell or High Water,” a theme also used in the updated signs for BBQ Fest.
Taking the cake though was, again, Section 116, the kings of the giant heads, who this time showed up with a Barack Obama head wearing a Grizz headband in honor of Booker T. Washington High School having won the opportunity to have Obama speak at their graduation. The high school’s achievement and the head in attendance were featured on the jumbotron in the second half.
2) Al Green’s National Anthem
How do you follow up an amazing National Anthem from the NBA’s best PA announcer Rick Trotter? Book Al Green. The Memphis legend absolutely nailed the anthem, because he’s Al Green! He could sing it again tomorrow and nail it again. If the Grizzlies get another home game they’ll have to book Justin Timberlake. And even then the singing probably wouldn’t be as good.
1) Jerry ‘The King” Lawler
Very important stat: The Grizzlies are 3-0 in the playoffs when Jerry “The King” Lawler shows up to pump up the Grindhouse crowd. This time was the best. Just as the Grizzlies were starting their third quarter run (at this point it was at 6-0) Lawler slammed a chair into the back of a faux OKC fan and covered the body with a yellow growl towel. He then noted that, “It’s time for the Grizzlies to put the chair on the Thunder!”
Top Five Quotes
5) Zach Randolph on playing in game seven
“That’s what it’s all about. It’s what we play for. I’d rather be playing now than on vacation or anything else. We have to be ready. It’s going to be a tough game going into their place. They’ll be ready, their fans will be ready, but we’ll be ready also.”
4) Marc Gasol on not wanting to let the series end in Memphis
“We don’t want to go out at all. Not that way or any other way.”
3) O.J. Mayo on starting
“All year I’ve just been trusting in coach Hollins and staying behind whatever he says 120%. It’s a big responsibility to come in and start, you gotta make an impact fast. I just tried to do the best I could.”
2) Shane Battier on Al Green’s performance
“That was pretty sweet. He’s a big reason why my wife and I got married”
Note: Before anyone misunderstands this (as it seems to happen with Shane’s musings) he was referring to the man’s music.
1) Lionel Hollins on Kevin Durant only making one FG in the second half
“He’s saving himself for Sunday. He had some good looks but just didn’t make them. We can’t take credit for that.”
Top Five Tweets
DA JUST MURDERED NICK COLLISON. JAYHAWK ON JAYHAWK CRIME
When Tony Allen hits a corner 3-pointer, it’s like finding $20 in your pocket.
What a fantastic crowd at the Forum tonight. They propelled us to the win. Quick turnaround for Sunday. Uno Mas!!!!!! Mucho Believe-o!!!
Market size is irrelevent. This is fun basketball from Memphis tonight.
Top Five Photos
Still hungry for more from the Grizzlies’ payoff run? Check out the Top 5 Everything from the Grizzlies’ Triple Overtime Loss to the Thunder in Game 4, the Top 5 Everything from the Grizzlies’ Game 3 Overtime Win Over the Thunder , or our Game 1 recap.
Also take a look back at the historic series with the San Antonio Spurs by checking out the Top Five Everything from Game 6, the Top Five Everything from Game 4, the Top Five Everything from Game 3, or our take on the Game 1 win.
For more Playoff fun, check out Shane Battier proves young people no longer watch Animal House, MSL presents “Have Grizzlies PA announcer Rick Trotter say whatever you like”, Jerry “The King” Lawler talking Grizzlies on MSL, Traveling NBA super fan James Goldstein on MSL, and the Top 6 Beards of the Playoff Run.
Photos by Chase Gustafson.