Grizzlies 81, Spurs 80

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SAN ANTONIO (AP)—It was a finish where the San Antonio Spurs could have really used their go-to guy.

But with the injured Tim Duncan in street clothes, the Spurs’ final minute of Monday’s night 81-80 loss to Memphis consisted of a shot-clock violation followed by a desperate, falling-down shot that couldn’t clear the front of the rim.

Lorenzen Wright provided the margin of victory for the Grizzlies when he put back his own missed 4-footer with 19.2 seconds remaining.

“I wanted to be aggressive and go after the loose ball and get the rebound,” Wright said. “Then the ball ended up in my hands and I went back up strong.”

Wright’s layup capped a 14-point rally by Memphis in the fourth quarter, as the Spurs managed only one field goal in the final 9:27 of the game.

“We couldn’t take decent shots at all in the fourth quarter,” said Manu Ginobili, who scored that lone basket at 2:05.

“We have to give them credit, though for the great defensive pressure,” said Ginobili, who finished with 15 points and a career-high nine assists. “We stopped moving the ball. … There was no movement, so we couldn’t take open shots.”

Malik Rose put San Antonio back ahead 80-79 with two free throws at 1:08, and the Spurs had the ball after Memphis’ Shane Battier missed a 17-footer.

Then the Grizzlies had their best defensive possessions in the final minute.

First they forced San Antonio point guard Jason Hart into a shot-clock violation with 28.9 seconds left.

Then, after Wright’s putback, Memphis’ suffocating defense made it hard for the Spurs to get a final shot off.

Rose drove the baseline in the waning seconds, but he took his shot while falling backward. It hit off the front of the rim and Memphis’ James Posey hustled for the rebound as time expired.

With Duncan out for a second straight game with a leg injury, San Antonio used good ball movement to run up a double-digit lead in the first quarter.

And on defense, the Spurs shut down the Grizzlies’ best offensive players.

Posey, who had averaged 24.2 points in his previous five games, scored only five points on 2-for-11 shooting. Pau Gasol’s 11 points and five rebounds were well shy of his team-leading 17.6 ppg and 7.7 rpg. Jason Williams, averaging seven assists, managed only two.

But San Antonio was less successful with the Memphis reserves, particularly at the end.

“Once again our second group bailed us out,” Grizzlies coach Hubie Brown said.

The bench players led a 13-0 run after Hedo Turkoglu’s 3-pointer at 9:27 put the Spurs ahead 74-63. Earl Watson made a 15-footer and then a 3-pointer to give Memphis its first lead of the game at 76-74 with 5:13 left.

“Earl Watson was key,” Battier said. “He really did singlehandedly turn the momentum of the game in our favor.”

Watson led Memphis with 13 points, while Wright had 12 and Bo Outlaw 10.

Turkoglu paced San Antonio with 19 points, and Rasho Nesterovic added 18 and 10 rebounds.

Nesterovic, who scored 14 points in the first half, made two quick jumpers to put the Spurs up 9-2 in the game’s first two minutes.

Late in the first period, Ginobili threaded a pass through a crowded lane to Kevin Willis for a running layup that lifted San Antonio’s lead to 24-14. On the next trip, Ginobili hit Rose for a dunk.

Trailing 26-21 after one quarter, the Grizzlies tied the score at 35 on a layup by Williams.

San Antonio rebuilt a six-point edge in the final minute of the half before Williams tossed up an alley-oop pass to Stromile Swift. whose basket made thescore 47-43 at the break.


Turkoglu was 3-for-7 on 3-pointers and is fifth in the league in 3-point shooting, hitting 43 percent. He’s shooting 47.6 percent (40-for-84) since becoming a starter in early January. … Battier’s two rebounds left him four short of 1,000 for his NBA career. … The Grizzlies’ victory ensures them at least a season split with San Antonio for the first time since Duncan joined the Spurs. … San Antonio is 2-4 without Duncan this season and 8-12 in hisseven-year career.

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Top Performers

 Top Performers
E. Watson E. Watson
5-9,  13 Pts
3 Rebs, 4 Assists
 San Antonio
M. Ginobili M. Ginobili
4-11,  15 Pts
5 Rebs, 9 Assists

Team Stat Leaders