Memphis is in sixth place in the conference, one-half game back of the Los Angeles Clippers. The Grizzlies have secured the third playoff appearance in the franchise’s 11-year history by virtue of New Orleans’ 101-77 loss to Dallas on Saturday.
“The last few years it was really tough and it took away a lot of confidence as far as getting to the playoffs with a good winning mentality,” said leading scorer Pau Gasol, whose Grizzlies lost five of their last six regular-season games a year ago before being swept in the first round by Phoenix.
“I think right now, we have a much better chance to do that and finish up the season and get to the playoffs with that kind of mentality.”
In a 100-90 win over Milwaukee on Friday to complete a 3-0 homestand, Gasol scored 26 of his 33 points in the first half and Chucky Atkins continued to produce by chipping in 16 as Memphis shot 52.8 percent from the field.
“In the second half they had to do something,” said Gasol, who made 13-of-15 shots to go along with 14 rebounds, eight assists and three blocks. “They started coming at me and I had to start passing the ball. If they want to play me straight up, I’m going to try to hurt them because I know I’m hard to stop when I’m one-on-one.”
Atkins, who totaled 41 points in his previous two games, upped his scoring average to 11.5 in 37 games with the Grizzlies since signing with the team in January.
San Antonio began a five-game homestand by losing consecutive contests for just the third time this season, falling 97-87 to Sacramento on Wednesday and 92-86 to Dallas on Friday.
The Spurs, who hadn’t lost back-to-back games since mid-February, are in a tight battle with the Mavericks for first place in the Southwest Division. Last season, San Antonio won the division by one game over Dallas en route to its third NBA title in seven years.
“The looks were there,” said Duncan, who’s been held to 16 points or less in four straight contests. “Tony and I both had an off-night, and they capitalized.”
San Antonio is 3-0 against Memphis this season and 32-10 all time in the series.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Grizzlies - 16-21 on the road; Spurs - 31-6 at home.