The already depleted Grizzlies lost yet another player for the rest of the season due to injury - rookie Jarell Martin (foot). Memphis had only nine active players for Game three. Nonetheless, this team had to suit up in front of their home crowd to play an NBA playoff game against the Spurs. And it was not pretty. I believe I speak for everyone when I say that this series needs to end as quickly as possible.
The Grizzlies opened up the game two-for-seven to the Spurs' five-for-seven, and SA had an early 12-4 lead. Kawhi Leonard had a quick seven points, connecting on his first three attempts. Despite the solid offensive start, a minor defensive slip-up by the Spurs lead to Pop wanting a time-out only five minutes into the game. This is no surprise. One of my favorite things about coach Pop (and probably one of yours, too) is the way in which he demands perfection.
The Grizzlies then went on an 8-0 run to tie the game up at 14, then forced a 24 second violation to give them a chance to take the lead - something they've only had for a mere 25 seconds all series long - but they couldn't convert. The Spurs then went on a 12-4 run of their own in the closing minutes of the first quarter. A three from Manu Ginobili as the quarter buzzer sounded gave San Antonio a 26-18 lead at the end of one.
The Spurs jumped out to a 13 point lead early in the second quarter thanks to a couple of triples from Kawhi and Manu, but the Grizzlies climbed back into the game thanks to some solid play from Lance Stephenson. The Grizzlies ended up taking the lead, which was their first lead since the score was 3-2 in Game One, but it was short lived. Although it did increase the amount of time Memphis has led in this series to 41 seconds.
The Grizzlies scored 25 points in the second quarter, which was their highest scoring quarter of the series at that point. They also outscored the Spurs (25-18) for the first time in a quarter all series. It was a one point advantage for the Spurs at the half. Kawhi led all scorers with 14, while Zach Randolph was the only Grizzly in double figures with 10.
The start to the second half wasn't pretty. The Grizzlies fought as hard as they possibly could and the Spurs struggled to get the lid off of the rim. As badly as I have been wanting to watch a good, hard fought Spurs playoff game, this was difficult to enjoy, given the roster SA was up against and how the game shouldn't have been close at all. Kawhi was able to keep the Spurs the lead for the majority of the quarter every time the Grizzlies made a run, but it wasn't enough to hold them off before the final quarter. Memphis out-scored San Antonio in the quarter once again, and had a 71-70 advantage going into the fourth.
The Spurs seemed to calm themselves down a tad in the fourth quarter. The ball moved and shots began to fall. They went up by six about four minutes into the quarter and Memphis was forced to call a time-out. Then, the Spurs offensive woes returned and the lid was placed back onto the rim. With four minutes to go, it was a two point game. I'm not sure exactly how many shots in a row the Spurs had missed at this point, but it seemed like a dozen. Danny Green, who had been quiet for most of the night, hit a huge three to put the Spurs back up by six, and SA had some momentum.
Leonard had some timely buckets in the final minutes to put the game away. He ended up with 32 on the night, tying his playoff career high, and the Spurs won 96-87. The Spurs outscored the Grizzlies 26-15 in the fourth quarter, and took a commanding 3-0 series lead on the Grizzlies.