The Grizzlies gave the Spurs all they could handle for about 45 minutes of tonight’s game, but Tony Parker and Kawhi Leonard made key plays down the stretch as they closed out the Grizzlies on the road to win their first round series in six games.
The first quarter started off looking good for the Silver and Black as they rushed out to an 8-2 lead behind playoff Tony Parker’s scoring. But Vince Carter brought them back with clutch shots. The Grizzlies got unexpected contributions from their bench with Andrew Harrison providing a pair of triples. The Spurs seemed to be outplaying the Grizzlies as the quarter wore on, but a bad turnover with 8 seconds left gave Mike Conley the opportunity to bring Memphis back to within a basket, with the Spurs leading 24-22 after one.
The Grizzlies played their hearts out in the second quarter, but the Spurs were able to keep it close with solid defense and aggressive offense in the paint from Kawhi Leonard. But once again, Mike Conley hit a clutch three point shot to close out the quarter and the Grizzlies led 50-45 at the half. The Grizzlies were hitting their three points shots at an alarming rate, but the Spurs were only down by a nickle despite the Grizzlies playing their best ball of the series so far.
The Grizz started off the second half quickly, scoring a quick pair of baskets, getting to their largest lead, 54-45. LaMarcus Aldridge had some great looks at the basket, and they just didn’t fall. After an Ennis three, the Grizzlies led by 10 and Pop needed a time out for the Silver and Black. The teams traded baskets for a while, but finally Danny Green hit a three point shot to cut the deficit to 5 halfway through the quarter. The Spurs kept junking up the game, and it was only fitting that LaMarcus was able to help the Spurs regain the lead with 3 minutes left on a putback and one. The Spurs bench players picked up the intensity and a Ginobili 4 point play put the Spurs up 73-69. Once again, Conley hit a late clutch three, and after a series of miscues to end the quarter from both squads, the Spurs led 75-74 with 12 minutes to play.
Kawhi Leonard had to take a rest early in the fourth, and the challenge for the Spurs would be to keep the game under control until he could come back in to finish the game. The Grizzlies were leading by 3 when Kawhi and Tony came back with about 9 minutes left. But some interesting shenanigans where Conley drew a foul where he barely got touched staked the Grizzlies to a 7 point lead. But the Spurs weren’t done, as Kawhi put in a floater while being fouled by Z-Bo to cut the lead to 4. After a Kawhi triple, the Spurs were within a point with about 5 minutes to play. Patty Mills finally regained the lead for the Spurs with a triple to put them up 92-90 with 3 minutes left. The Grizzlies tied it again with a free throws from Marc Gasol, but David Lee and Tony Parker hit clutch shots to put the Spurs up 4 with two minutes left. Vince Carter hit a pair of free throws but Parker answered. The Grizzlies finally missed a shot and had to start fouling with under a minute left. Again, Mike Conley drew a questionable foul call to earn three shots and cut the deficit to three with 28 seconds left. Or so everyone though, until Conley missed the third foul shot, which the Spurs rebounded, leading a breakaway layup from Tony Parker. Those turned out to be the points that sealed the game for the Silver and Black as they won 103-96
- Matt Bonner is doing a great job in the studio in the pre-game for FSSW. I can see why Pop kept him on the team for so long, because his positive attitude and basketball knowledge had to be a great asset in the locker room. Plus he’s really funny.
- Zach Randolph is just unstoppable on the offensive boards. I like David Lee on offense, but he just doesn’t have the bulk to bang with Z-Bo. Dewayne Dedmon has completely fallen out of the rotation, hard not to wonder if he could at least put in a few minutes leaning on Zach and tiring him out. Dewayne did get a few minutes in the third quarter and played well, but Pop went right back to Lee in the fourth.
- Memphis has been getting great contributions from their role players. Andrew Harrison, Troy Daniels, James Ennis III and JaMychal Green are all hitting shots when they’re open.
- Until a few missed shots in the fourth quarter, the Grizzlies shot over 50% on 3 point shots. That’s either the mother of all statistical anomalies or there’s something wrong with the Spurs three point defense.
- I can’t believe that Conley has never been an all star. I mean there is a logjam of talented point guards in the West, but it’s still hard to comprehend.
- LaMarcus Aldridge didn’t have a great game, but did what he needed to do to help the Spurs win the game. He kept playing defense even when his shot wasn’t falling.
- The Grizzlies deserve a lot of credit for playing their hearts out in this series. They didn’t shrink under the pressure, and they got great performances from both their stars and role players. They were great preparation for the next round.
Reaching back to 1909, when Tim Duncan was a rookie.
Final Thoughts—Up Next
The Spurs have a few days off before they start their second round series Monday night at 8:30 PM against the Houston Rockets in the AT&T Center.