Grant Belcher, News9.com
OKLAHOMA CITY – It was almost as if Oklahoma City was toying with its fans' emotions on Friday night at Chesapeake Energy Arena.
After three quarters full of some of the sloppiest basketball of the season, the Thunder rewarded the sellout crowd with a show in the fourth.
Despite trailing by double digits multiple times in the game, OKC managed an inspired late rally to overcome the Grizzlies 101-94 and sustain the NBA's best record.
For much of the game, it appeared as if a trend between the Thunder and Grizzlies would be broken. The vast majority of the games between the two teams, dating all the way back through last year's playoff series and regular season, have been decided in the game's final minutes.
The Thunder's late comeback made sure that trend didn't die, and their propensity for winning close games made sure they came out on the high side.
Thunder guard Thabo Sefolosha sat out his third straight game with what the team is calling a "sore right foot," but Daequan Cook filled his spot admirably.
Coach Scott Brooks originally inserted James Harden into the starting lineup in Sefolosha's place, but has since kept Harden coming off the bench to keep his role with the second unit intact.
Both Cook and Harden helped pay off that decision on Friday. Cook, usually known for his sharp 3-point shooting, was a monster on the defensive end with seven rebounds and three blocks.
Harden had 24 points filling his role off the bench, including 4-of-6 from 3-point range.
But this game was all about the recently-named Western Conference All-Star starter.
Kevin Durant took over in the end as only he can, scoring the Thunder's final 10 points and 14 of their final 17.
He ended up with a double-double at 36 points and 10 rebounds, all of his boards coming in the second half.
Memphis was sharp defensively, applying constant pressure all over the court and challenging every Oklahoma City pass in the half court sets.
The result was 17 turnovers from the Thunder, leading to 25 free points on the other end for the Grizzlies.
Memphis took the lead midway through the first quarter and didn't relinquish it until about seven minutes remaining in the game.
The Grizzlies' lead fluctuated up to as many as 11 points at times before the Thunder eventually came screaming back into it thanks to 10 fourth-quarter points from Harden and 16 fourth-quarter points from Durant.
Memphis (12-11) had a pair of 20-point scorers in Marc Gasol (24) and Rudy Gay (23).
Russell Westbrook added 21 points and seven assists for the Thunder.
OKC improved to 18-4 overall and will head to San Antonio for a 7:30 p.m. Saturday evening tipoff.