OKLAHOMA CITY — Tony Allen knew it wouldn’t be a cake walk. The Memphis forward had been part of too many heated battles with Oklahoma City to even consider that the injury-plagued Thunder would roll over for them.
So it was no surprise to Allen that it took several clutch shots and a five-second call for the Grizzlies to pull out a 91-89 victory Friday night at the Chesapeake Energy Arena.
“We knew we was coming into a hostile environment,” Allen said. “Crowd was going to be into it. The main (thing) was we just come in and focus on what we needed to do. Play hard, play together. Just Grizzlies basketball.”
The win kept the Grizzlies undefeated at 6-0 and the Thunder fell to 1-5 while continuing to play without forward Kevin Durant and guard Russell Westbrook.
“These are great experiences for our guys to be in,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. “I love competitive players and we have a team full of that.”
With 5:47 left, Memphis led 78-73, but Oklahoma City kept coming.
After a dunk by Thunder forward Serge Ibaka cut the Memphis lead to two points, Grizzlies guard Tony Allen drained a 3-pointer from the corner.
Thunder guard Reggie Jackson answered with a floating layup, trimming the Memphis lead. Oklahoma City guard Jeremy Lamb tied the score at 81 with a 3-pointer that sent the crowd into a frenzy.
However, two trips later, Lamb air-balled a 3-pointer from the same spot. That led to Grizzlies guard Courtney Lee making a 3-pointer of his own to push Memphis ahead 84-81 with 2:16 remaining.
Jackson hit a jumper to close the gap to one point, but Conley came right back and drained a 3-pointer.
Not to be outdone, Ibaka knocked down a shot from long range and the Thunder were down 87-86. Randolph missed a shot from in front of the rim and Oklahoma City had a chance to take the lead with just over a minute on the clock.
Jackson buried a 3-pointer to put Oklahoma City up 89-87. But once again, with the shot clock running down, Conley hit a 3-pointer and Memphis was back in front.
Jackson missed a shot and Memphis got the ball back. After guard Quincy Pondexter missed a 3-pointer, Jackson grabbed the rebound and called timeout with 5.9 seconds left.
But instead of getting the ball into a shooter, forward Nick Collison was called for a five-second penalty.
“I thought I got it off in time,” Collison said. “It was close. I probably should’ve called timeout but I thought I could get it off.”
Lee hit one of two free throws to put Memphis up by two with 2.4 seconds left. The Thunder only had time for a catch and shoot. Ibaka got an open shot from top of the key, but his 3-pointer was off the mark.
Conley made 7 of 14 shots from the field to go with five assists. Randolph added 16 points and seven rebounds.
Oklahoma City was led by Jackson’s 22 points and eight assists. Lamb scored 17 points on 5-of-8 shooting while Ibaka added 16. That included going 4-of-7 from behind the arc.
“It’s just the OKC-Memphis rivalry,” Conley said. “It’s always going to be close no matter who’s out there because they play with a lot of fire and passion, and their coach is a great coach who gets them ready to go. Especially at home. They have a great crowd, so we always expect this to be a close game.”
NOTES: The Oklahoma City Thunder signed free-agent G Ish Smith on Friday to a contract pursuant to the NBA’s hardship rule. He will remain with the team until either F Kevin Durant, G Russell Westbrook, F Grant Garrett or F Mitch McGary return from injury. … Thunder C Kendrick Perkins called Memphis C Marc Gasol the second-best big man in the NBA behind Sacramento Kings C DeMarcus Cousins. … Thunder G Jeremy Lamb made his season debut against the Kings. He missed the team’s first five games with a strain in his lower back. “We’re slowly gonna get guys back,” Thunder F Nick Collison said. “It’s nice to have Jeremy back and I think we’ve got a couple other guys that might be back soon. We just have to keep plugging away.” … When Memphis comes to Oklahoma City, nothing surprises Grizzlies coach David Joerger. “We are not afraid of a big crowd because everything crazy that could possibly happen has happened here,” Joerger said. “Overtime, double overtime, four-point plays and stuff like that.”
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