Memphis believed and is now proud. It seems that the Grizzlies have changed the look of a franchise by winning over the hearts of many fans in a city that knows basketball. OKLAHOMA CITY — Memphis believed and is now proud. It seems that the Grizzlies have changed the look of a franchise by winning over the hearts of many fans in a city that knows basketball.
The fan base has become so loyal that on Sunday (May 15) they hit Interstate 40 headed west to Oklahoma City to support the team that has made history in the past four weeks.
The game – in the end – marked the final game of the post season for the Grizzlies. The Oklahoma City Thunder earned the right to face the Dallas Mavericks in the Western Conference Finals after defeating the Grizzlies 105-90 in a forced Game 7 at the sold out Oklahoma City Arena.
| Zach Randolph was a magnet for the Thunder defense for much of Game 7, which Oklahoma City won in their home arena. (Photo by Kelley Evans)|
|Mike Conley: “I love the way that we played hard and did the things that we had to do to get to this point.” (Photo by Kelley Evans)|
“I don’t live my life that way,” said Shane Battier, when asked if he would have done anything different. “I just live my life to the fullest. It’s pretty special for me after going through what I have in my career. I told the guys the danger next year is managing expectation and it’s a tough dragon to tackle.”
Mike Conley agrees.
I feel like everything happens for a reason,” Conley said. “I don’t know if I’d change anything. I love the way that we played hard and did the things that we had to do to get to this point.”
Game 7 saw the bench factor come into play big time for the Thunder, as the OKC reserves outscored their Grizz counterparts 42-22.
The Grizzlies also had tough night shooting, 39 percent, as the Thunder rained in jump shots and three-pointers (11) on their way to a 48 percent shooting performance.
There were four ties in the first quarter, which the Grizz led most of the way. But at the end of the break, the Thunder had a four-point lead that grew to eight at the half, with Memphis never grabbing the lead again. A move to get within three in the second half rapidly faded into a double-digit deficit that proved insurmountable.
Conley led the Grizz with 18 points followed by Zach Randolph, the only Grizz player to score in double figures, with 17 points and 10 rebounds. O.J. Mayo was again in the starting lineup and ended the game with 14 points.
“We had an amazing run and the fans have been a big part of that,” Conley said, noting the franchise’s turnaround and its tenth-year success despite adversity, challenges and injuries, most notably to star forward Rudy Gay.
Randolph said Memphis has competed well all year.
“We just weren’t seen nationally, and a lot of people didn’t know about us because we weren’t on TV a lot. But we’ve been playing good basketball all year and competing with the best teams.”
The Thunder’s Kevin Duran scored a game-high 39 points, with four three- pointers. Guard Russell Westbrook dropped a triple-double, with 14 points, 14 assists and 10 rebounds. Thunder Head Coach Scott Brooks gave kudos to the Grizzlies.
“They played as hard as you can possibly play an NBA game and Coach (Lionel) Hollins deserves a lot of credit because he’s worked extremely hard to put himself in this position,” Brooks said. “That team is gonna be good for a long time.”