Spurs 93, Grizzlies 86

Ron Higgins, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

MEMPHIS -- San Antonio Spurs guard Tony Parker wanted to make sure his longtime teammate Tim Duncan got a chance to win a fifth NBA championship ring.
Parker produced a career-playoff-high 37 points, including 25 in the second half, as the Spurs turned back the Memphis Grizzlies 93-86 to complete a sweep of the Western Conference finals Monday night in FedExForum.
The Spurs now await the winner of the Eastern Conference series, and San Antonio will be well-rested before Game 1 of the Finals on June 6. The Miami Heat lead the Indiana Pacers two games to one in the Eastern Conference finals.
Duncan did his part in Game 4, contributing 15 points and eight rebounds. Kwahi Leonard added 11 points for San Antonio.
Quincy Pondexter came off the bench to lead the Grizzlies with 22 points. Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph scored 14 and 13 points, respectively.
The Spurs gained revenge for losing a first-round series to the Grizzlies two years ago when San Antonio was the West's top seed.
The Grizzlies trailed by six points at the half and never got closer than three the rest of the way. Every time it seemed they were about to break through, Parker ducked behind a high screen and took a Grizzlies defender or two to school.
With the Spurs leading 89-86, Parker scraped off a screen, found a sliver of light in the lane, drew a shooting foul and converted two free throws with 29.7 seconds left. He followed that with two more free throws about eight seconds later, and the Grizzlies were done.
The Spurs hopped on the lifeless Grizzlies from the opening tip in establishing a 24-14 lead after one quarter. Three Memphis starters -- Conley, Tony Allen and Randolph -- didn't score in the opening period.
San Antonio's superb team defense limited Memphis to 28.6 percent shooting in the opening quarter while the Spurs shot 52.4 percent with 11 baskets off seven assists.
Despite the Grizzlies going almost seven minutes between field goals in the second quarter, they managed to stay in striking distance. A Jerryd Bayless 3-pointer off an inbounds play with 2.1 seconds left in the half reduced the Spurs' halftime advantage to 44-38.
While the Spurs' defense was still doing a number inside against All-Star forward Randolph -- his two first-half points came off free throws -- the Grizzlies fired back by holding San Antonio to 0-for-8 from the 3-point arc before halftime.
Also, the Grizzlies' bench finally had played the Spurs' bench better than even, holding a 14-10 scoring advantage in the opening two quarters.
However, what got the Spurs their halftime lead was outscoring the Grizzlies 34-12 in the paint. It wasn't just Duncan getting to the basket, because Parker scored eight of his 12 first-half points on drives.
Every time the Spurs tried to throw a knockout punch in the game's first four minutes of the second half, the Grizzlies jabbed back. San Antonio maintained its halftime lead before Parker put on an offensive clinic.
Whether it was a crossover fade or ducking behind the screen, Parker's 14 third-quarter points boosted the Spurs to a 63-51 lead before he sat down for a breather.
That's when the Grizzlies, with a small lineup on the floor, went on a run that cut the Spurs' advantage to 72-66 by the end of third quarter.
Credit Pondexter and his 12 points in the period for willing the Grizzlies back into the game.
NOTES: San Antonio is 4-for-4 in the NBA Finals. Duncan is the only Spurs player to be part of all four of the team's championships, though coach Gregg Popovich also was in charge for the title runs in 1999, 2003, 2005 and 2007. ... Teams that led 3-0 in an NBA postseason series are now 108-0 all-time in winning the series. ... Parker was the only player on either team to average a double-double over the first three games (20.3 points, 10.7 assists). ... The Spurs have won their last 17 of 19 playoff games in which G Manu Ginobili came off the bench to score 18 or more points. Ginobili finished with six points Monday.

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