Game 4 between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Memphis Grizzlies will go down as the first triple overtime game in the 2011 NBA playoffs and without question an instant classic. For Memphis, it was a missed opportunity to take a strangle hold on the series.
After being down by as many as 16 points in the first half, the Oklahoma City Thunder lead by solid play off their bench by James Harden and fought their way back into the game.
Harden was scoring and getting others involved, it was as if the Grizzlies forgot that Harden played point guard in college at Arizona State. In fact, at times the Oklahoma City Thunder’s offense looked more fluid with the ball in Harden’s hands as opposed to the up and down Westbrook.
The second half was a spirited battle as both teams traded punches. As the fourth quarter began to wind down, it looked like the Thunder were going to escape with the victory, until Mike Conley hit an improbable three point basket to send the game into overtime.
It would take a third overtime session before the Thunder would pull away lead by Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook who combined for 75 points scoring 35 and 40 respectively.
For the Grizzlies, it was a missed opportunity. For the Thunder it was a learning experience on how to win-must-win games. At some point, it looked like neither team was going to find a way to win and that OT would go on forever.
Anyone who watched this game should be able to tell that the Oklahoma City Thunder are a young bunch and they are still trying to figure out how good they can be. It’s rare that you can criticize a player who scores 40 points, but Russell Westbrook despite his 40 points, doesn’t seem to know when to keep his foot on the gas pedal or when to feed the hot hand of Durant. But this team is learning, and most importantly they’re winning.
With the 133-123 victory, the Oklahoma City Thunder will head home needing to win 2 out of the next 3 games, but they will have the home court advantage.
Without question, this year’s playoffs are the best NBA playoffs in almost a decade, unless you’re a Lakers fan.
If you missed this instant classic, summary just doesn’t do it justice, it’s something you need to see for yourself.
Here are the highlights from NBA.com via Youtube.