Thunder and Pacers draw first blood

Oklahoma edge past Grizzlies in Western Conference semi-finals opener as Indiana cruise past Knicks in the East.

    Thunder and Pacers draw first blood
    The third-seeded Pacers stunned the New York crowd to secure Game One from the Knicks in the Eastern Conference semi-finals [AFP]

    Kevin Durant scored 35 points and hit a pair of jumpers in the final minute to lift the Oklahoma City Thunder to a 93-91 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies on Sunday in Game 1 of the Western Conference semi-finals.

    The Indiana Pacers took home-court advantage away from the New York Knicks, as David West scored 20 points in a 102-95 win in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference semi-finals.

    In Oklahoma City, Derek Fisher poked the ball away from Mike Conley to spring Durant the other way, and he pulled up to make a shot with 11.1 seconds left that put Oklahoma City up 91-90.

    Quincy Pondexter had a chance to send the game to overtime when he was fouled attempting a 3-pointer with Memphis trailing 93-90 and 1.6 seconds remaining. But he missed the first free throw.

    On the Grizzlies' previous possession, Thabo Sefolosha deflected an inbounds pass, and Conley landed out of bounds while diving for the ball.

    Reggie Jackson then hit two free throws to make the lead three.

    But Jackson hacked Pondexter on his right arm before he released a 3-pointer from the left wing in an attempt to tie it. Pondexter, a 72 per cent career free-throw shooter, made his second attempt before purposefully missing the third, but Durant swatted the rebound away and Marc Gasol's attempt at a buzzer-beater was late.

    The Grizzlies got 20 points and 10 rebounds from Gasol and 18 points and 10 rebounds from Zach Randolph. Pondexter and Conley scored 13 apiece.

    Kevin Martin scored 25 for Oklahoma City, who trailed for much of the game but were able to avoid repeating their Game 1 loss from when these two teams met in the West semi-finals two years ago. The Thunder were able to rally and win that series in seven.

    Confident performance

    In New York, Paul George scored 19 points and D.J. Augustin added 16 for the Pacers, who built a 16-point lead while Carmelo Anthony was on the bench in foul trouble in the third quarter, and easily held on to spoil the Knicks' first second-round game since 2000.

    Anthony finished with 27 points and 11 rebounds, but was frustrated by the Pacers' rugged defence and by the referees. He shot 10 of 28 from the field.

    The Pacers, who allowed the second-fewest points per game and the lowest field goal percentage in the league during the regular season, mixed in solid offence as well. They outscored New York 59-38 across the middle two quarters and were comfortably ahead throughout the fourth.

    Roy Hibbert scored 14 points in thoroughly outplaying counterpart Tyson Chandler, and George Hill also had 14 for the Pacers.

    J.R. Smith scored 17 points but was 4 of 15 for the Knicks. Raymond Felton had 18 and Kenyon Martin added 12 for the Knicks, who hope to have reserves Amare Stoudemire (right knee surgery) and Steve Novak (back spasms) back for Game 3 and certainly looked as if they could use the help.

    SOURCE: AP


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