MEMPHIS — The Memphis Grizzlies call it grit and grind, and it got them through another ugly game.
Marc Gasol scored 20 points and hit two free throws with 1 minute 3 seconds left to put Memphis ahead to stay, and the Grizzlies held off Oklahoma City, 87-81, on Saturday to take a 2-1 lead in this Western Conference semifinal.
Gasol scored 16 in the second half as Memphis remained unbeaten at home in the postseason.
The Grizzlies pulled out the win in a choppy performance for both teams following a three-day layoff since Game 2 with the Thunder by beating it at its own game, dominating the boards and in the paint. After struggling at the free throw line in Oklahoma City, the Grizzlies hit all six at the line in the final 1:03 to clinch it.
“We just stayed after it like we’ve done all year long,” Memphis coach Lionel Hollins said. “It’s not always pretty. Tonight wasn’t pretty, but it was pretty for us because we got the win.”
Game 4 is Monday night in Memphis, and Hollins wants one more home win for a franchise in its second Western semifinal in two seasons. The Grizzlies lost to Oklahoma City in seven games in 2011 after splitting Games 3 and 4 in Memphis. But they are 18-1 at home since Feb. 8.
“I’d rather take my chances with where we’re sitting now and try to win all of our home games,” Hollins said. “We got a long way to go, and we got to keep battling.”
Kevin Durant scored 25 points but only two in the fourth quarter. A 91 percent free throw shooter in the regular season, Durant missed two with 39.3 seconds left. Durant also had 11 rebounds and five assists.
“It’s frustrating, but we can’t hang our heads,” Durant said. “We have to keep playing and keep improving. We just have to learn from it. We have to embrace the tough times and get better from it. I believe in my teammates.”
The Thunder had its worst scoring and shooting performance this postseason. Reggie Jackson had 16 points for Oklahoma City, and Kevin Martin and Serge Ibaka each added 13. Jackson and Ibaka also grabbed 10 rebounds apiece. Durant went 3 for 11 from the floor in the second half, and his teammates went a combined 23 for 69 for the game.
Tony Allen had his best game in this series, scoring 14 points for Memphis. Jerryd Bayless added 11. Zach Randolph scored only eight points but had 10 rebounds.
“It was definitely a good feeling because we didn’t play the best Grizzlies basketball that we know we can play as a team,” Randolph said.