The blue bears of Memphis have had several “greatest game in history” games, and most of them end with the fans, the players and coach Hollins smiling a little wider.
This one didn’t though. It dragged, on and on and on, and eventually the Thunder were the last team standing.
This is the master list from the Monday/Tuesday Marathon. You can find a more traditional recap here.
As always these are real things that happened in a real game…
Top Five Basketball Moments
In a game this long and this tough, it’s nearly impossible to just pick out five moments that were special for the home team. O.J. Mayo played fantastic minutes and hit some huge shots to finish with 18 points. Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph, especially Randolph, battled as best he could underneath – finishing with 34 and 26 points. Randolph had 16 rebounds and Gasol had 21, tying the franchise playoff record set by Randolph on Saturday night. The bigs being dominantly productive has become so expected and their production so consistent that the more memorable moments have been coming from the guys who DON’T normally step up big. The following list is a result of that, but the bigs need their due.
5) The first 20 game minutes
About four hours before the final buzzer, the Grizzlies were steamrolling the Thunder en route to a lead that ballooned to 18-points halfway through the second quarter. The game started with an 8-0 Grizzly run. Gasol finished the quarter with 12-points, which matched the Grizzly advantage at the end of that quarter.
At that point the Thunder only had 16 points. Early fouls on Kendrick Perkins and Serge Ibaka made it difficult for the Thunder to play as tough underneath, and Randolph and Gasol took advantage. Even Hamed Haddadi was able to come in again and out muscle the Thunder for two rebounds and two blocked shots during the stretch. Looked like the Grizzlies would roll.
4) Shane Battier’s put back
Yeah, now fast-forward two or more hours. What you missed that won’t be covered below: a constant drag-out foul fest in which Kendrick Perkins temper flared so loudly that it extended to an Oklahoma City fan that had to be removed from the arena, Scott Brooks going small and watching his team chip away at the Grizzlies lead and come within 4 at the half, the Thunder eventually take the lead in the third quarter, then the teams battling back-and-forth before miracles started happening.
In the second overtime period, this was the Grizzlies second-to-last real step on the gas. With 1:49 left, Battier missed short on a wide-open corner three, but was able to get his own rebound and put the ball back in to give the Grizzlies a lead again at 114-112.
3) Greivis diving and-one
And the was the last big step on the gas, happening just afterward. Vasquez, who could have had the name “huevos” on the back of his jersey for all his production, fearlessly drove at a wall of Oklahoma City bigs that hadn’t been called for a foul in almost a century, and somehow floated in a layup and finally drew a foul call.
He made the free throw, giving the Grizzlies a three-point lead with 1:22 left in the second overtime.
Despite excellent defense on the following possession, Oklahoma City’s James Harden made a three on the next possession. It was that kind of game.
2) Mike Conley three-pointer
After number five, but necessary to get to numbers three and four, were two miracle shots. The first came from Mike Conley.
After Kendrick Perkins missed two potentially game-winning free throws, the Grizzlies chose not to take a timeout as Mike Conley rambled up the floor and made a desperation three-point shot over two Oklahoma City defenders to tie the game with 3.5 left and give Grizzly, OKC and NBA fans everywhere a collective heart attack.
On the following possession the Thunder could not convert, and the game went to overtime.
1) Greivis’ three-pointer
Which is where this happened. Conley quickly fouled out at the start of the first extra period, and late in the game with the Grizzlies down one, so did O.J. Mayo. In came Sam Young and Greivis Vasquez.
With Conley and Mayo out and the team down three in the final seconds, again, who would shoot the three?
You know who it was it says it right up there. Vasquez’ three was even more insane than Conley’s. Off-balance, ugly, looking like he was trying more to get a foul call than make the shot, it dropped in. Game tied. OKC can’t covert and everyone moved to OT 2.
Top Five “You had to be there” Moments
5) The “Z-Bo Gasp”
There’s a crazy thing that happens in a packed NBA arena when a bona fide superstar gets the ball and starts to work one-on-one. It’s this collective gasping roar of anticipation that slowly builds until the star player takes a shot.
In FedExForum, the superstar gasp usually was only heard on the first few possessions by LeBron James or Kobe Bryant. Never really heard it for Durant. Carmelo Anthony got about half of one.
But ever since the playoffs started this year in Memphis, Zach Randolph has gotten that gasp from the crowd every time he’s matched up one-on-one near the basket.
It’s something you just have to hear in person, and it’s something the hardest working player on the team has certainly earned.
4) Rick Trotter’s National Anthem
It’s no secret that we love Rick Trotter at MemphiSport. It’s hard not to – especially when the famed Grizzlies PA announcer keeps adding to his legend in the way he did to start this game.
Trotter absolutely nailed the National Anthem – best one of the year – and then somehow was able to deliver his pre-game team introductions, have witty conversations on twitter and discover a source of efficient, renewable energy.
Trotter deserves extra credit for a few other things at the game, including his pregame heckling of fans on the jumbotron who were not wearing their free white t-shirts for the White Out. Plus he never – ever lost an iota of energy during the marathon session that include the three overtimes. The man is a city treasure.
3) The almost non-stop “Let’s go Grizzlies” chants of the final two hours
For the fourth quarter and the first two overtimes, the crowd was right there with him. There was no problem with crowd energy in this one, they were on their feet from the start, and only lost some moxie when the Thunder made it impossible not to do so.
The “refs u suck” made a few re-appearances, but “Let’s Go Grizzlies” ruled the arena for an amount of time that can have no other repercussion other than about 18,000 people going to work hoarse tomorrow.
2) Double collective heart-attacks
Yeah so the plays are described above, kind of, but the emotion of watching those two shots drop, hearing the roof come off the place, it was surreal.
If a building was ever going to actually explode from noise, from emotion, from the unlikely happening, from 18,119 people being rewarded because they believed, it would have happened then. It was the whole of why we love sports.
After Greivis’ shot, WMC sportscaster Jarvis Greer whipped a yellow growl towel around his head while screaming “This is while we built this building!”
He couldn’t contain it. No one could. No one could believe all that was happening.
1) Final Standing Ovation
Despite it all – all the heroics, all the miracles, and all the noise, it became clear about halfway through the third overtime that the Grizzlies just didn’t have enough to finish it out. Really it became clear at the end of OT 2, when Randolph and Gasol had several shots to tip-in what could have sealed a win, but the bigs were too tired, and over shot and over tipped.
At the start of OT 3, about 5-10% of the crowd started to head out. It was almost 12:30 and about two game minutes later, more joined them.
But plenty of fans stayed. About 30% of the crowd hung around until the final buzzer, and even though the scoreboard favored OKC, they gave the home team a standing ovation for the relentless heart, grit and grind they showed for more than four hours. Not a slow clap. Better.
Top Five Quotes
5) Marc Gasol
“I think we could have done better but nobody is perfect. We tried our best; effort was there… no one can be mad at themselves. We tried our best.”
4) Mike Conley on the end of regulation three
“I had to take it. I had a feeling I was going to get a good look, and it went in.”
3) Lionel Hollins
“Nobody wanted to go home. Nobody wanted to lose.”
2) O.J. Mayo
“We’ll be alright man. It’s a tough loss, it’s almost one o’clock in the morning now, but we’re gonna go home, get our rest and come back ready.”
1) Greivis Vasquez on his shot at the end of OT 1
“I will trade that shot for a win any day. I would trade every single thing I did and every single thing I can for a win tonight.”
Top Five Tweets
If there’s a fourth OT, I say we play it at Club 152.
Hamed Haddadi acknowledging fans during timeout. Like a Presidential candidate pointing to the crowd.
Chris Vernon owes Mike Conley a shirt design.
Guy in a Perkins jersey getting kicked out. Apparently just wearing the jersey makes you angry
Ref: “Stop” Perk: “YOU stop” Tech.
Top Five Photos
Still hungry for more from the Grizzlies’ payoff run? Check out the Top 5 Everything from the Grizzlies Game 3 Overtime Win Over the Thunder , our Game 3 recap, or our Game 1 recap. Also take a look back at the historic series with the San Antonio Spurs with the Top Five of Game 6, our Game 6 recap, the Top Five Everything of Game 4, our Game 4 recap, the Top Five Everything of Game 3, our Game 3 recap, our take on the Game 1 win, and for some further back nostalgia, our Top 6 Beards of the Playoff Run.
Photos by Chase Gustafson.