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Grizzlies Claw Past Thunder In Memphis

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MEMPHIS, Tennessee -

Stop us if you've heard this one before: Oklahoma City went to Memphis and lost a close, physical contest to the Grizzlies without Russell Westbrook in the lineup.

No, it wasn't the 2013 Playoffs but it certainly felt like it.

Memphis' Courtney Lee hit a pair of free throws with one second remaining and Reggie Jackson came up short on a 58-foot heave at the buzzer, as the Grizzlies outlasted OKC 90-87 on Tuesday night at the FedEx Forum.

It was the Grizzlies' fifth victory against the Thunder in their past six meetings and, while it might seem like Memphis has OKC's number, it's more likely a byproduct of running into Oklahoma City without No. 0 on the floor.

Memphis' five wins have now come by: 6, 6, 6, 4 and 3 points. The lone Thunder win came on Dec. 11 and the player of the game that night just so happened to be – shocker -- Westbrook, who scored 27 points with nine assists in a 16-point beat down at The Peake.

But those are the breaks and the Thunder came up on the wrong side of a back-and-forth contest to fall to 5-5 without Russ and has now lost three out of four overall.

The Grizzlies (18-19) had the timely return of Marc Gasol to the lineup after missing 23-straight games with a knee injury, but it was Lee and Zach Randolph who led the charge for a surging Memphis team that is now on a three-game winning streak.

Lee scored a season-high 24 points on 9-of-15 shooting and Randolph bulldozed his way to a double-double with 23 points and 13 rebounds. Gasol had 12 points and four boards in his return.

Kevin Durant predictably led the way for Oklahoma City (28-10) with 37 points – 19 of which came in the first half – on 15-of-28 shooting with four rebounds and four assists.

Reggie Jackson also bounced back from a ghastly two-point showing in his previous outing with 17 points, six rebounds and three assists, while Serge Ibaka tacked on 11 points, nine rebounds and four blocks.

Oklahoma City took a 47-43 lead into halftime and jumped out to a seven-point lead quickly in the third on a deep Jackson 3-pointer. But after Thabo Sefolosha blew a wide-open layup that would have given OKC a nine-point edge, Memphis responded with a 7-0 run to knot it up and took the lead a minute later on a pair of Gasol free throws. Memphis never trailed again.

Memphis outscored the Thunder by nine in the third quarter and that spurt proved to be enough, as OKC failed to get over the hump in the fourth. And the Grizzlies did it in the way they always do against the Thunder sans Russell: physical defense and low-post scoring.

But the Thunder still had its chances down the stretch, including a wide-open potential game-tying 3 from Ibaka with 11 seconds remaining.

The Thunder will try to break out of its recent funk on Thursday when it travels to Houston to take on James Harden, Dwight Howard and the Rockets at 8:30 p.m.

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