OKLAHOMA CITY — As they’ve risen simultaneously into Western Conference contenders, the Oklahoma City Thunder and Memphis Grizzlies have quickly learned to dislike each other.
In their latest slugfest, it was the Thunder who came out swinging but Zach Randolph and the Grizzlies got the win.
Rudy Gay scored a season-high 28 points, Randolph added 20 points and 11 rebounds before getting ejected along with Oklahoma City’s Kendrick Perkins during a late-game altercation and Memphis beat the Thunder 107-97 on Wednesday night.
Despite notching wins against defending champion Miami and runner-up Oklahoma City during their current six-game winning streak, Randolph said the Grizzlies aren’t claiming to have made any statements early on and are still fueled by an underdog mentality.
“This is one of the best teams in the West," Randolph said. “We’re trying to get where they’re at."
Maybe that’s why every meeting between the two seems to turn into a knock-down, drag-out fight. This one saw Perkins and Randolph confronting each other between Russell Westbrook’s free throw attempts, drawing each an ejection from referee Ken Mauer with 2:05 left in the game.
The two tried to approach each other while being restrained by teammates before finally heading out tunnels at opposite ends of Chesapeake Energy Arena.
After the game, Randolph said all was settled between him and Perkins.
“There’s a lot of bluffing going on on the court, that’s all," Randolph said. “And I don’t bluff."
By the time the ejections took place, the Grizzlies had all but put the game away — with Randolph and fellow big man Marc Gasol answering an Oklahoma City comeback bid punctuated by Perkins’ two-handed slam that cut the deficit to 97-89 with 4:18 to play.
Coach Lionel Hollins called for a timeout and sent his team back out with Gasol isolated against Perkins, and Gasol twisted his way in for a layup.
After a missed jumper by Serge Ibaka at the other end, Gasol set up Randolph for a layup off a designed play.
That all but sealed the latest round for Memphis, which won its second straight in Oklahoma City’s home gym to add more fuel to the budding rivalry.
“That’s what makes it fun," Gay said.
Memphis ended up losing a seven-game series that featured a couple overtime thrillers two seasons ago against Oklahoma City and has been trying to claw its way ahead of the Thunder, who have been one step ahead in their progression so far.
LOS ANGELES — Blake Griffin and Chris Paul had double-doubles, with Paul keying a third-quarter spurt that helped carry Los Angeles past Miami. Griffin had 20 points and 14 rebounds and Paul had 16 points and 10 assists. LeBron James scored 30 points for the Heat.
PHOENIX — Carlos Boozer had 28 points and 14 rebounds to help Chicago outlast Phoenix in overtime.
OAKLAND, Calif. — Rookie Harrison Barnes scored 19 points and grabbed 13 rebounds, making a pair of critical free throws in the final minute to help Golden State hold off short-handed Atlanta.
BOSTON — Paul Pierce hit two free throws with 19.5 seconds left and finished with 23 points, lifting Boston over Utah. Jeff Green and Leandro Barbosa each scored 16 points for the Celtics, who won for the fifth time in six games.
PHILADELPHIA — Greg Monroe had 19 points, 18 rebounds and six assists to help Detroit beat Philadelphia for its first win of the season.
HOUSTON — James Harden scored 30 points and Omer Asik added 15 points and 12 rebounds as Houston held off New Orleans.
DALLAS — Chris Kaman had 23 points and eight rebounds in his second start for Dallas, who held on to beat winless Washington.
MINNEAPOLIS — Kemba Walker’s jumper with 0.7 seconds left lifted Charlotte over Minnesota. Walker finished with 22 points, five assists and four rebounds, and his 19-footer over the outstretched arm of Alexey Shved helped the Bobcats to their first three-game winning streak since March 2011.
MILWAUKEE — Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis scored 16 points apiece to help Milwaukee cruise past struggling Indiana.