MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP)—Losing to the defending champion San Antonio makes the end of an amazing season a little more tolerable for the Memphis Grizzlies.
The Spurs needed just four games to end the Grizzlies’ first foray into the postseason and advance to the second round.
Tony Parker matched his career high with 29 points and had a postseason-best 13 assists to help the Spurs sweep the Grizzlies with a 110-97 victory Sunday night.
“We just got taken out by a team that’s at the height of their game,” Memphis coach Hubie Brown said.
The Spurs have won 15 straight regular-season and playoff games. It also was San Antonio’s first series sweep since beating Portland in 1999 en route to its first NBA title.
“This was a great series for us, playing a physical team that is very explosive, and they’ve got a lot of guys who can get the job done,” Duncan said. “We are happy it’s over, and we are happy that we played well.”
The Grizzlies desperately wanted the franchise’s first playoff victory as a thank-you for their rowdy fans. And the team that set a record with 50 victories played well enough before a sellout crowd that had fuzz flying through the air as the fans shook their promotional towels most of the game.
Adding to franchise history will have to wait at least until next season when the Grizzlies move into their new $250 million FedExForum near Beale Street because their best just wasn’t good enough against a team looking for a second straight NBA title.
The Spurs, who haven’t lost since March 23, closed out this series with their best shooting game this season.
“Nothing is easy in this league,” Watson said. “You can spin it any way you want to spin it, but I don’t think it’s disappointing.”
Memphis had been one of the NBA’s best defensive units during the regular season when it came to forcing steals and blocking shots. But the Spurs shot 58.7 percent from the floor, including 11-of-17 from 3-point range, and it was easy with nearly every attempt coming off a wide-open look at the basket.
Horry said despite defeating the Grizzlies by an average of 14 points in this series, the Spurs only wanted to win games and stay focused on repeating as champions against a team that won the regular season series 3-1.
“You don’t try to send a message,” Horry said. “If you send a message, that’s good. Just don’t say you’re going to go out and beat this team.”
Every time the Grizzlies put up a shot, they had a hand in their face or were pushing through Spurs to reach the basket in shooting 46.6 percent.
Memphis started quick enough with a 10-2 run for their biggest lead at 10-4 on Posey dunk in the opening minutes. But the Spurs hit their first four 3s, and took the lead for good at 14-12 on a 20-foot jumper by Bowen. Parker had 14 of his points in the first quarter, and Duncan said he set the tone.
“He took it over early. He had an excellent first quarter, and he kept it all the way through. He really carried us through the entire game,” Duncan said.
Gasol hit a hook shot to pull Memphis to 18-17, then the Spurs answered with 12-2 spurt and led 32-21 at the end of the first quarter.
Memphis got within five a few times in the second, but Duncan scored 10 points in the quarter in helping the Spurs lead by as much as 17.
The Grizzlies made one last run and got within nine twice in the fourth quarter, the last on a 3-pointer by Mike Miller at 92-83 with 7:44 to go. Parker once again answered with a pair of free throws, and the Spurs just pushed that lead back to double digits to put it away.
It was a very tightly officiated game, but one call got the fans chanting, “We want new refs” at the end of the third quarter. Watson was given a foul after a scramble for the ball lost by Parker as he went into the paint on theSpurs’ end.
It was San Antonio’s first sweep in the first-round since 1995 when it beat Denver in three games in what was then a best-of-five series. … Parker’sprevious best for assists was nine against the Lakers on May 7, 2002.