The Memphis Grizzlies advanced to the NBA semi-finals for the first time in franchise history by beating the top seeded Oklahoma City Thunder, 88-84, to take their playoff series in five games.
LeBron James finished with 23 points and eight assists as the Miami Heat held on after blowing an 18-point lead to beat the Chicago Bulls, 94-91, also to advance to the NBA semi-finals.
Dwyane Wade played through a nagging knee injury to finish with 18 points and six assists and Chris Bosh had 12 points and seven rebounds for the Heat, who won four straight games against the undermanned Bulls after dropping the opener in Miami.
In the Memphis-Oklahoma final match, Zach Randolph finished with 28 points and grabbed 14 rebounds but missed two late free throws with the Grizzlies holding a two-point lead.
Thunder superstar Kevin Durant had a chance to tie the game with the clock winding down but he shot long on an open 15-footer. That allowed Memphis' Tony Allen to seal the outcome by making his two free throws.
"We knew Kevin would get the ball. Luckily he missed the shot," Memphis guard Mike Conley said.
The Grizzlies will meet either the San Antonio Spurs or the Golden State Warriors for the right to go to the 2013 NBA finals. The Spurs lead that quarter-final series 3-2 with the next contest scheduled today in Oakland, California.
Conley finished with 13 points, 11 assists and seven boards for the fifth-seeded Grizzlies, who won the final four games of the series after losing game one.
Meanwhile, defending champion Heat will face either the Indiana Pacers or the New York Knicks in the semis. The Pacers lead that quarter-final series 3-1 with game five set for today at Madison Square Garden.
James also had seven rebounds for the Heat who reached their third straight Eastern Conference final series.
The injury-plagued Bulls had two chances in the final seconds to tie it, but Nate Robinson and Jimmy Butler both missed from beyond the arc.
Carlos Boozer finished with a game high 26 points and 14 rebounds while Robinson had 21 points and Butler 19 for the Bulls, who played the entire series without Derrick Rose, Luol Deng and Kirk Hinrich.
The Bulls have been decimated by injuries. Derrick Rose hasn't played since he tore his ACL in the first playoff game last season.
Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau blamed the loss on the injuries.
"Right now health," he said when asked what the difference in the series was. "That's the biggest thing. But they are a great team and you have to give them credit.”
Thibodeau said he had no regrets about not trying to bring Rose back for the series.
"If we were going to make a mistake we wanted to make the mistake on the side of caution," he said.
Miami's Wade has been plagued by knee troubles of late and only managed six points in game four. He rebounded Wednesday going seven-of-13 from the field and a perfect four-of-four from the foul line in the win.*AFP
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