Grizzlies finish off Thunder in five games

Grizzlies finish off Thunder in five games

OKLAHOMA CITY, Miami - Agence France-Presse
Grizzlies finish off Thunder in five games

Memphis Grizzlies forward Tayshaun Prince (21) shoots over Oklahoma City Thunder guard Reggie Jackson (15) during the first half of Game 5 of their playoff series. AP photo

The Memphis Grizzlies advanced to the NBA semifinals for the first time in franchise history by beating the top seeded Oklahoma City Thunder 88-84 to take their playoff series in five games on May 15.

Zach Randolph finished with 28 points and grabbed 14 rebounds but missed two late free throws with the Grizzlies holding a two-point lead.

“We got a great win,” Randolph said. “They came out blasting and we stood and fought. We kept fighting and now we will get some rest and get ready for the next series.” Thunder superstar Kevin Durant had a chance to tie the game with the clock winding down but he shot long on an open 15-footer. That allowed Memphis’ Tony Allen to seal the outcome by making his two free throws.

“We knew Kevin would get the ball. Luckily he missed the shot,” Memphis guard Mike Conley said.

Spurs or Warriors

The Grizzlies will meet either the San Antonio Spurs or the Golden State Warriors for the right to go to the 2013 NBA finals. The Spurs lead that quarter-final series 3-2 with the next contest scheduled for tonight in Oakland, California.

Conley finished with 13 points, 11 assists and seven boards for the fifth-seeded Grizzlies, who won the final four games of the series after losing game one.

Oklahoma City made it to the NBA finals last season where they lost to the Miami Heat who also advanced with a win over the Chicago Bulls on Wednesday night.

The Thunder earned the top seed in the Western Conference postseason, but lost all-star point guard Russell Westbrook in game two of their first-round series against the Houston Rockets.

Their fate was also sealed after trading away NBA Sixth Man of the Year and Olympic gold medal winner James Harden to the Rockets after last year’s playoff run.

Heat in the East finals

Meanwhile, LeBron James finished with 23 points and eight assists as the Miami Heat held on after blowing an 18-point lead to beat the Chicago Bulls 94-91 and advance to the semifinals.

Dwyane Wade played through a nagging knee injury to finish with 18 points and six assists and Chris Bosh had 12 points and seven rebounds for the Heat, who won four straight games against the undermanned Bulls after dropping the opener in Miami.

“We knew right from the very beginning of this series that we would have to earn everything and that proved to be true,” said Miami coach Erik Spoelstra.

The defending champion Heat will face either the Indiana Pacers or the New York Knicks in the semis. The Pacers lead that quarter-final series 3-1 with game five set for Thursday at Madison Square Garden.

James also had seven rebounds for the Heat who reached their third straight Eastern Conference final series.

The injury-plagued Bulls had two chances in the final seconds to tie it, but Nate Robinson and Jimmy Butler both missed from beyond the arc.