Spurs pin Grizzlies against wall with OT win

Ron Higgins, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange


MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Faced with overtime on the road in Game 3 of the Western Conference finals, the San Antonio Spurs did exactly what was expected.
They put the ball in the hands of their two future Hall of Famers and let them handle the heavy lifting.
Forward Tim Duncan and guard Tony Parker scored or assisted on 14 of the Spurs' 18 points in overtime on Saturday night in a 104-93 victory that gave the Spurs a commanding 3-0 lead.
Game 4 is here on Monday night and the Spurs have a chance to advance to their first NBA finals since 2007 when they won the last of their four championships.
After Grizzlies guard Mike Conley missed a potential winning shot on a drive as the buzzer sounded to end regulation with score tied 88-88, Duncan delivered the first five points of overtime to get the Spurs rolling to their second straight OT win.
"We have a good feeling going into overtime," Duncan said. "Execution is one of our strengths. We've been together a long time and we have a lot of plays to work from. With our experience, Pop (Spurs coach Gregg Popovich) can call things on the fly and we don't have to call timeouts to draw up plays."
Parker finished with 26 points, Duncan added 24 points and 10 rebounds and Manu Ginobili came off the bench to contribute 19 points, seven rebounds and five assists.
Conley led the Grizzlies with 20 points. Marc Gasol had a double-double (16 points, 14 rebounds) as did Zach Randolph (14 points, 15 rebounds), but both were gassed in overtime when the Grizzlies made just 3 of 8 shots from the field.
It was the fourth overtime game this season played between the Spurs and the Grizzlies, and the Spurs have won three of them, including Game 2 on Tuesday night.
"These two teams are evenly matched and you don't assume that you are going to jump out to an eight- or nine-point lead in overtime," Popovich said. "That's not something you plan on."
The Grizzlies befuddled the Spurs early and often. With considerably more active hands than in the first two games, the Grizzlies caused eight Spurs first-quarter turnovers that led to 11 points and a 29-13 lead.
Conley had five steals in the first quarter, the most by any player in the opening period of a playoff game in the last 10 years.
Popovich was so disgusted with his starters that he yanked them all at once, hoping to get a boost from five fresh faces. The Grizzlies were determined to keep the hammer down, but the Spurs, with three starters back on the floor to open the second quarter, began with a 9-0 run.
"I had four turnovers in two minutes. It might have been my worst start of my career," Parker said. "But crazy things happen in playoffs. I don't even try to understand the basketball gods anymore. I didn't want to understand our start. I just kept telling myself to push the delete button."
And the Spurs kept coming. Committing just two turnovers, they hit 11 of 15 shots from the field in the second quarter and reduced Memphis' lead to 44-40 at the break. The Grizzlies, which play at an unaccustomed fast pace in their frenetic first-quarter start, seemed a bit gassed with no fast-break points and just two second-chance points in the second quarter.
Parker and Duncan, who combined for three points in the first quarter, teamed for 15 in the second quarter. Conley and Jerryd Bayless, the Grizzlies' two best backcourt players, were a combined 3 of 15 from the field in the opening half.
The Spurs chased the Grizzlies the entire third quarter but couldn't quite catch them, trailing 65-64 entering the fourth quarter.
The bad news for the Grizzlies was the Spurs began throwing up a wall inside, and more and more shots were created late in the shot clock from perimeter players.
That's exactly what the Spurs wanted.
They also turned to a lineup featuring their three most battle-tested veterans -- Parker, Duncan and Ginobili -- and the result was better ball-handling decisions and improved shot selection.
To start the fourth quarter, the Spurs used Danny Green, Ginobili and Matt Bonner, their best 3-point shooters, and spread the floor wide with Duncan in the high post and Parker using the screen to intitate the offense and penetrate. It's what got the Spurs so many open looks for 3-pointers in the first two games of the series.
While the Grizzlies limited the Spurs to a series-low six 3-pointers, they still couldn't score enough late in the game, especially when they were blitzed in overtime. Like in Game 2, they looked gassed and the Spurs found another gear.
"In the end, we didn't do enough good things," Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins said. "They hurt us when they went small and just played the pick-and-roll. They hurt us in the pick-and-roll all night."
Conley tried to carry the Grizzlies as much as he could down the stretch. The Spurs knew that, which is why they surrounded him on his unsuccessful drive as time expired in regulation.
"We drew up a play to try and get in the paint and make a play," Conley said. "I got in a little too deep and I had to take the shot."
NOTES: Teams that have led 3-0 in a series have never blown the series (107-0). ... Duncan had his 144th postseason double-double, passing Wilt Chamberlain for second place in NBA history behind Magic Johnson. ... Parker led the Spurs in scoring for the eighth time this postseason. ... The Spurs had 17 turnovers, eight in the first quarter when they fell behind by 18.