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Thunder's Durant seeks redemption

Kevin Durant, left, fouls the Grizzlies’ O.J. Mayo during a Game 6 in which the Thunder star managed only 11 points.

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Kevin Durant, left, fouls the Grizzlies’ O.J. Mayo during a Game 6 in which the Thunder star managed only 11 points.

OKLAHOMA CITY — Kevin Durant had trouble sleeping, trying to shake off the worst playoff performance in his young NBA career.

After the league's scoring champion managed 11 points in the Thunder's loss that set up Game 7 today against the Grizzlies, Durant woke up Saturday still thinking about what went wrong.

Durant took nine of his 14 shots from behind the arc, and he made only one basket over the last 45 minutes.

"It was tough," Durant said. "That's a part of this league. It's going to happen.

"Especially being one of the main guys, I tend to take a lot of the pressure and put it on myself. But it is what it is. I've got to fight through it, I've got to continue to be positive around my guys and go from there."

By morning, his dreams had taken a turn for the better.

"I made a lot of my shots, of course, in the dream. It wasn't a nightmare," Durant said. "I made some shots and we won the game.

"But that's just a dream."

Like most of the players in a matchup of two of the NBA's rising young teams, Durant has never experienced a Game 7. The Thunder lost to the Lakers in six games in the first round last year then beat Denver in five to advance this year.

The closest he could relate to the winner-take-all stakes was the NCAA Tournament, where his Texas Longhorns were eliminated in the second round in his only year in college.

Memphis' star, Zach Randolph, doesn't have it much better. He went to Game 7 with Portland in his second year in the league, helping the Blazers rally from an 0-3 deficit to tie the series before losing the finale. His teams had missed the playoffs each of the seven years since before Memphis' current bid to be the first No. 8 seed to reach the West finals.

The winner advances to face the Mavericks starting Tuesday night in Dallas.

"We know what we're playing for," Randolph said. "We know it's the last game, and we know whoever wins this game goes to the next round, goes to the finals. So, it's going to be different."

Randolph was stellar in Game 6, staving off elimination for the Grizzlies with 30 points and 13 rebounds after being limited to a postseason-low nine points in a blowout loss in Game 5.

Durant blamed his turn for the worse on the two fouls he picked up in the first five minutes, making him think too much about avoiding another whistle instead of just playing.

"Kevin did not play well and I love Kevin because he faces his bad games head-on. He doesn't run from them. He doesn't look away when we're watching video or pretend that he's tying his shoes," Thunder coach Scott Brooks said.

OAKLEY SUES RESORT: Charles Oakley, a former NBA star and now a Charlotte Bobcats assistant, sued a Las Vegas resort over what he calls a May 2010 "gang-style beat down" by security guards who injured him. Oakley filed the lawsuit Thursday against the Aria hotel-casino at MGM Resorts International's CityCenter complex, the Las Vegas Sun reported.

.East Final

Bulls vs. Heat

When/where: Game 1, 8 tonight; United Center, Chicago

TV: TNT

Records: Bulls, 62-20 regular season, 8-3 playoffs; Heat 58-24, 8-2.

Season series: Bulls, 3-0.

Key matchup: Bulls F Carlos Boozer vs. Heat F Chris Bosh. Bosh had double doubles in the final two games against Boston. Boozer has been battling turf toe but had 23 points and 10 rebounds in the Game 6 clincher.

X-factor: James Jones. The Heat will have to hit from the outside so the Bulls can't focus too much on Dwyane Wade and LeBron James. Jones is the best candidate.

Times wires

Thunder's Durant seeks redemption 05/14/11 [Last modified: Sunday, May 15, 2011 5:03pm]
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