It's safe to say that the Oklahoma City's 99-72 beatdown of the Memphis Grizzles Wednesday night won't go down as an instant classic like their previous three-overtime game will but it will go down as one of the better games the Thunder has played in this playoff. After the marathon game in game 4 between these two teams, it would be understandable if a little fatigue worked its way onto the court and for the Grizzlies, that was readily apparent.
For the Thunder, however, they were raring to go.
"There was no fatigue factor for us. … I thought our guys came in with focus," Oklahoma City coach Scott Brooks said. "You beat good teams by really executing very well and with good effort, and we did both of them tonight."
The Thunder had struggled this series leading up to the pivotal game 5. The had to fight back to win game 4, which was a must win situation after blowing a 16 point lead in the second half of game 3, and hadn't looked like a team in sync with itself for most of this series. But good teams persevere and that's what the Thunder did, finally clicking in game 5.
"Going through that kind of loss molds our character, I think, and brings us closer together," Durant said. "Losing Game 3 the way we did and winning Game 4 the way we did, it kind of showed what type of team we are, what type of courage and heart we have."
Memphis, obviously still reeling from that game 4 loss which they could have easily won, just couldn't pull forth the energy and swagger they displayed throughout the playoffs to this point. They looked like a defeated team Wednesday night and with a loss Friday night, their magical run will be over.
"Shots weren't falling for us but you still have to come with great effort and we didn't bring it at all," guard Mike Conley said. "They outplayed us in every area of the game. I wish I could tell you why. It just wasn't there.
"They hit us and kept hitting us and we didn't fight back."
So, for the Grizzlies, it's down to one game. If they win, they live for a game 7 and if they lose, it's over. They know they will be getting the Thunder's best shot Friday night and have to find the mental fortitude to keep in this series. After this embarrassing loss, it shouldn't be hard to find motivation.
"We've got our backs against the wall and we've got to bounce back and come out at home swinging," Mark Gasol said. "We have no other chance to lose another one.
"We've got to go right away and win the next game. There's no other choice."
Photo Courtesy of: ASSOCIATED PRESS