The Spurs started the 2012-13 season on a winning note, beating the Grizzlies 101-94 in a rematch of the Western Conference Finals. The key stretch of the game was a 22-0 run during the second quarter (largely bench-on-bench action) as part of a 30-7 period overall for the home team. The Spurs played terrific defense in the stretch, but it must be said that the brick masons in the Memphis jerseys aided to the cause as well, and the referees let both squads get away with a lot of contact during the first half. The Spurs led 48-27 at half thanks to their edge in transition points and three-point shooting and were led by Patty Mills' 12 points on 4-of-4 from the field, with Matt Bonner also contributing a couple of threes during the run. San Antonio's reserves had 28 of their 48 first half points, compared to seven for Memphis' bench.
The Grizzlies made a game of it, slowly but surely, in the second half, largely by taking advantage of the absence of Tim Duncan, who took a elbow to the chest from (who else?) Tony Allen late in the second quarter, tried to tough it out in the second half, and had to leave a minute into the third quarter. His official diagnosis was a chest contusion, and he's day-to-day. Without Duncan patrolling the paint, the Grizzlies attacked the rim with impunity, though it was largely Kosta Koufous and Quincy Pondexter rather than Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph who did the bulk of the damage. Allen, ironically, also hit three from downtown for them, matching his regular season total from last year.
With Duncan out, Tony Parker (13 points on 4-of-14 shooting) struggling and the team a bit too turnover prone, the Spurs gradually saw their 21-point lead whittled down to five, 80-75 with 7:08 to go, but from there the Spurs got threes from Danny Green, Parker, Leonard and seven points from an ultra-aggressive Boris Diaw to spark a 21-11 closing burst, with Memphis scoring the final eight points of the game in garbage time.
Leonard and Diaw led the Spurs with 14 points each, while Parker had 13 and 9 assists, Ginobili had a great all-around game with 12 points, 5 assists and 2 steals, Mills had his dozen and Tiago Splitter finished with 11 and eight boards.
Allen led all scorers with 15, while Gasol and Mike Conley had 14 for the Grizzlies, Pondexter had 13 and new acquisition Mike Miller finished with 11.
The Spurs will fly out west for a three-game trip, beginning with the Lakers on Friday night, and the big question for them will be whether Duncan boards the plane. The Grizzlies will host the Pistons in their home opener, also on Friday.