NBA Playoffs: Grizzlies take down Thunder in OT

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NBA Playoffs: Grizzlies take down Thunder in OT

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Nothing rattled the Memphis Grizzlies.

Not squandering a nine-point lead in the fourth quarter and a five-point lead in the final 19 seconds of regulation. Not Kevin Durant's 20 points after the third quarter. Not even giving up an improbable game-tying putback that forced overtime.

The Grizzlies remained steady and took care of business in the extra period. Zach Randolph scored 25 points to help Memphis defeat the Oklahoma City Thunder 111-105 in overtime on Monday night and tie their first-round playoff series at one game apiece.

"It was just staying confident, understanding that those guys are going to make runs," Memphis forward Tony Allen said. "We've got to weather the storm by staying together and not getting down."

Mike Conley added 19 points and 12 assists for the Grizzlies, who executed their game plan perfectly and put themselves in position to take control of the series in Game 3 Thursday night in Memphis. Oklahoma City pushed the pace through most of its 100-86 victory in Game 1, but on Monday, the Grizzlies successfully slowed the tempo and limited Oklahoma City's fast-break opportunities.

"Basically it's just going to be a slugfest," said Allen, who was praised by his teammates for playing solid defense against Durant. "We're going to pound it. They're going to run it. Whoever can come up with the most stops pretty much wins the game" (see full recap).

Clippers destroy Warriors to even series
LOS ANGELES -- After getting knocked down in their playoff opener, Blake Griffin and the Clippers answered with a dominant performance in shutting down the Warriors as soon as the game began.

Griffin scored a career playoff-high 35 points without a foul and Los Angeles led all the way in a 138-98 rout Monday night to even their first-round series at a game apiece.

"We were really aggressive on our defense," Griffin said. "When you play more aggressive you stay out of foul trouble."

Chris Paul added 12 points and 10 assists for the Clippers, who started the game on a 14-4 run and kept on going, maintaining a sizeable double-digit lead through the final three quarters. They finished with franchise records for points and largest victory margin in a playoff game.

"When we play with that force and thrust, it's hard to defend us," Paul said.

Game 3 is Thursday at Oakland (see full recap).

Joel Embiid finally struggles in Sixers' loss to Nuggets

Joel Embiid finally struggles in Sixers' loss to Nuggets

BOX SCORE

Joel Embiid has been making the NBA look easy. Rookie of the Month honors, five double-doubles in 13 games, seven performances of 20 points or more … all having missed the last two years rehabbing from foot injuries.

Embiid, though, still is a player learning the league. Night’s like Monday’s lackluster showing are going to happen, even if it seemed unexpected against the struggling Denver Nuggets. 

“We’ve been used to seeing Jo have superhuman nights,” Brett Brown said after the Sixers’ 106-98 loss (see Instant Replay). “I thought Joel was down tonight.” 

Embiid tallied a total 16 points (5 for 15 from the field, 1 for 3 from three, 5 for 6 from the line) with four rebounds, one assist, a career-high five blocks, three turnovers and three fouls in 25:32. 

He had a quiet first half with six points (2 for 5 from the field) and one rebound in 9:21. The biggest struggle came in the third quarter. Embiid scored a single point off a free throw and shot 0 for 6 from the floor. By the end of three, he was shooting 18.2 percent. 

The big man said he needed to be better at passing out of the double team. He committed two turnovers in the third. 

“I wasn’t getting to my spot and I wasn’t getting what I’m used to getting,” Embiid said of the first three quarters. “I’m going to go back and watch the tape and see what I did wrong.” 

Embiid bounced back for another Embiid-like offensive effort in the fourth. He dropped nine points off an efficient 3 for 4 shooting in 7:31. Still, it wasn’t enough. 

“I made a couple shots,” Embiid said. “It didn’t help us win, so I don’t think it matters.”

Brown noticed Embiid rushing his game. He also thought Embiid’s balance was off, something the big man has been dealing with all season as he continues to find his legs. 

Embiid will not play in Tuesday's game against the Grizzlies. It is part of his work load management in which he does not play both games of a back-to-back. Expect him to hone in on game film until his next matchup, and get back on the roller coaster that can be a first year in the NBA. 

“It's just part of a young man's growth,” Brown said. “It just happens. I don't think we need to read too deeply into it. I think, in many ways, to expect from time to time not as good of a performance as we have been used to is fair enough.”

Best of NBA: Cavs snap skid; another triple-double for Westbrook

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Best of NBA: Cavs snap skid; another triple-double for Westbrook

TORONTO -- LeBron James scored 34 points and the Cleveland Cavaliers overcame an injury to J.R. Smith to snap their three-game losing streak with a 116-112 victory over the Toronto Raptors on Monday night.

Smith injured his left knee in the first quarter after landing on a jump shot and hobbled to the dressing room in considerable pain. He did not return, and the Cavaliers said X-rays taken at the arena were negative and that the guard would return to Cleveland on Tuesday for further examination.

DeMar DeRozan had 31 points and Kyle Lowry added 24 for Toronto, which had its six-game winning streak snapped.

The win was the Cavaliers' third straight this season against the Raptors, the team they beat in last season's Eastern Conference finals. It also prevented Toronto from leapfrogging Cleveland into first place in the conference (see full recap).

Another triple-double for Westbrook in OKC win
ATLANTA -- Russell Westbrook extended his streak of triple-doubles to six games, leading the Oklahoma City Thunder to a 102-99 victory over the skidding Atlanta Hawks on Monday night.

Westbrook scored 32 points, grabbed 13 rebounds and doled out 12 assists, carrying on the NBA's longest run of triple-doubles since Michael Jordan had seven in a row in 1989.

Westbrook has sparked a six-game winning streak by the Thunder. He's now reached double figures in all three categories in half of the Thunder's 22 games.

By contrast, Jordan had 15 triple-doubles for the entire 1988-89 season.

Despite benching Kyle Korver and benefiting from return of Paul Millsap, the Hawks lost their seventh straight game.

They've dropped 10 of 11 overall (see full recap).

Harden, Rockets hang on to beat Celtics
HOUSTON -- James Harden scored 37 points and Al Horford missed a shot just before the buzzer to allow the Houston Rockets to hold on for a 107-106 victory over the Boston Celtics on Monday night.

The game was tied before Harden scored five straight points to make it 107-102 with less than a minute remaining. Avery Bradley made a jump shot and Harden received a flagrant 1 foul for elbowing Marcus Smart in the face. Smart made both free throws before Isaiah Thomas missed a layup.

But Houston knocked the ball out of bounds with 5.2 seconds left, giving Boston one last chance. Horford drove into the lane, but his shot rolled off the rim and Harden grabbed it to secure the victory.

Horford had 21 points and Thomas added 20 for the Celtics, who had won two straight (see full recap).