How it happened: The young Oklahoma City core came up big on the Game 7 stage.
The Thunder’s 22-year-old co-stars were simply terrific. Kevin Durant poured in 39 points on 13-of-25 shooting, persistently attacking despite a slow start on the heels of a horrible Game 6. Russell Westbrook, whose decision-making has been under the microscope all series, delivered a triple-double with 14 points, 14 assists and 10 rebounds.
And 21-year-old sixth man James Harden was spectacular, too. He had 17 points on 6-of-10 shooting. More importantly, Oklahoma City outscored Memphis by 24 points in the 31 minutes Harden was on the floor.
The Grizzlies stayed in the game for two and a half quarters despite awful shooting. But once the Thunder got hot, it was over.
What it means: The Thunder earned a date with Dallas by surviving a grueling series against the Grizzlies. Tuesday’s Game 1 could be the beginning of a beautiful Red River rivalry.
Play of the game: Harden picked off a poor pass by Mike Conley and fed a wide-open Durant for a transition 3-pointer. That was the first of five 3-pointers by Durant and Harden in the final 3:56 of the third quarter. The Thunder expanded their lead from five to 14 points during that span.
Stat of the day: Thunder point guard Westbrook, 22, is the second-youngest player to post a playoff triple-double in the past two decades. LeBron James had a pair of triple-doubles as a 21-year-old in the 2006 playoffs. Westbrook’s 14-point, 10-rebound, 14-assist performance was the first Game 7 triple-double since Scottie Pippen’s against the Knicks in 1992.