MANILA, Philippines – O.J. Mayo provided the heroics in the clutch and the Memphis Grizzlies snapped the Oklahoma City Thunder’s six-game winning streak, 94-88, while the Chicago Bulls lost back-to-back games for the first time this season.
Mayo hit a crucial three-pointer with 17 seconds that gave the Grizzlies an unassailable 90-86 lead.
Though the Thunder still had a chance to take the game after Russell Westbrook made two free throws, Zach Randolph and Tony Allen were four-of-four from the line in the final 13 seconds and the Grizzlies survived the Thunder’s final charge.
Mayo finished with 22 points off the bench.
“Juice (Mayo) has hit a lot of big shots for us and he hit the shot that iced the game,” said Memphis forward Ryan Hollins.
But it was the Grizzlies’ defense that won them the game, as they limited the high-scoring Thunder to below 90-points for only the third time this season.
Oklahoma City shot 45% from the field, but they committed 18 turnovers that Memphis turned to 23 points. They also had only two fastbreak points for the game.
“We weren’t running the ball like we would have liked. They got back and made us play in the half court,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks told NBA.com. “Give them credit: they put their hands on us and were very physical.”
Six other players scored in double figures for Memphis, with Allen contributing 15 points and eight rebounds. Mareese Speights was the only Memphis starter not in double figures (nine points), but he did add a game-high 13 rebounds.
Kevin Durant led the Thunder with 21 points and eight boards, while Russell Westbrook added 19 points but had only three assists. Westbrook also shot poorly from the floor, finishing with only five field goals on 16 attempts.
Meanwhile, the Chicago Bulls lost consecutive games for the first time this season after bowing down to the visiting Houston Rockets, 99-93.
The loss to Houston came after Chicago also dropped a game to the Oklahoma City Thunder. It was the first time the squad lost back-to-back games since February 2011.
The Bulls were ahead 61-48 in the third quarter, but the Rockets went on a 14-1 run to tie the game. They dominated the fourth quarter, eventually leading by as much as 14 points.
“Every game is huge. It’s a battle in the West. Every game is basically a playoff-berth game,” said Rockets forward Chandler Parsons.
Goran Dragic led the Rockets with 21 points, five assists and four steals, while four other players scored in double figures. Luis Scola (18 points, 12 rebounds) and Marcus Camby (12 points, 11 rebounds) both had double-doubles.
The Bulls were playing without injured All-Star forward Derrick Rose for the 11th straight game, but they refused to use his absence as an excuse.
“We miss Derrick. We are better with Derrick. But everybody has injuries,” said Chicago’s Luol Deng, who topscored with 24 points. “The Rockets are missing guys. We have enough talent to win.”
Coach Tom Thibodeau said his team’s defensive effort cost them the game.
“No edge. No defense. Turnovers, turnovers, turnovers,” he said. The Bulls had 19 miscues, leading to 24 points for Houston.
Meanwhile, the Milwaukee Bucks defeated the Washington Wizards, 112-98, to move within two games of the New York Knicks for the last playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.