SAN ANTONIO – After the Western Conference finals opener ended with a loss, the Memphis Grizzlies' Zach Randolph took the brunt of the blame and told his teammates in the locker room the obvious: "I got to be better."
Memphis' postseason leading scorer and All-Star had a season-low two points during a 105-83 loss to San Antonio on Sunday. Randolph missed seven of eight field-goal attempts and did not shoot a free throw in 28 minutes while succumbing to the Spurs' suffocating double-teams. It was Memphis' lowest-scoring output during this season's playoffs. Randolph's next chance to redeem himself will be Tuesday in Game 2 of the best-of-seven series.
"Ain't no excuse," Randolph said. "They did a good job. You got to give them credit."
Grizzlies guard Mike Conley said the Spurs have the NBA's best defense because they are disciplined, smart, energetic and well-coached. San Antonio lived to that billing with its scheme against Randolph.
"You can't be perfect at it," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. "They're just too good. But I thought the effort was there for 48 minutes."
[Box score: Spurs win Game 1 in rout]
Randolph was clearly the Spurs' primary defensive target. With a variety of big men, they fronted the generously listed 6-foot-9, gravity stricken Randolph with the likes of 6-11 Tim Duncan and Tiago Splitter, 6-10 Matt Bonner and the wide-bodied, 6-8 Boris Diaw. There was also a guard waiting to double-team immediately once Memphis looked the creative scorer's way. And that's if Randolph even got the ball.
"They weren't allowing him to touch the ball," Conley said. "From the first play it was tough to get him in a good position, which means we have to go through different options. We weren't able to get the high-lows like we normally do. It was really tough to find other ways to get him the ball."
Randolph missed all three of his shots in the first quarter and didn't attempt one in the second during six minutes of play. He became so frustrated that he shoved Duncan away in the post on one first-half play – he wasn't whistled for an offensive foul – before missing a chip shot against small forward Kawhi Leonard.
Randolph put up another donut in the third quarter – 0 for 4. Sensing his frustration, he was consoled and encouraged by Conley and veterans Tayshaun Prince and Keyon Dooling when he went to the bench with Memphis down 62-46 late in the third quarter.
"This is one game, one game," Conley said of his conversation with Randolph. "We're going to be all right and I told him to not hang his head. There are a lot of things we can adjust to, and we have to get him easy shots and easy buckets. And we will worry about that the next game."
Randolph's only basket, a put-back, happened with 9:26 left in the fourth quarter with the Grizzlies down nearly 20 points. He left the game for good with 5:14 remaining and Memphis trailing 90-72. Randolph's previous season-low was three points in a 108-101 loss to the New York Knicks on March 27.
The Grizzlies on Sunday shot 43.2 percent from the field and were led in scoring by reserve Quincy Pondexter (17 points).
Randolph entered the West finals averaging 19.7 points on 14.7 field-goal attempts and 6.3 made free throws per game. During three regular-season games against San Antonio, he averaged 14.3 points on 36.2 percent shooting from the field and 3.8 made free throws per contest.
By shutting down Randolph, Conley said the rest of the Grizzlies suffered. Coach Lionel Hollins agreed, saying Conley (14 points, eight assists) and center Marc Gasol (15 points, seven rebounds) didn't play well either. The Grizzlies' offensive philosophy: While Conley is the point guard, Randolph's scoring sets the table for everyone else.
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