Post Up: Same Old, Same Old
The veteran Spurs earn a third straight victory vs Memphis to take a 3-0 series lead.
Memphis gave away the biggest game of their season last night. The Grizz led 29-11 late in the first quarter, but the lead was cut to 44-40 at halftime. They stayed ahead throughout the third period, but a Danny Green triple on the first play of the fourth quarter put San Antonio in the lead.
The teams were neck-and-neck from there, and were knotted at 86 with 33 seconds left. Manu Ginobili missed a great look at a three, which gave Memphis the ball with the shot clock turned off. But the Spurs clamped down on D, and sent the game into overtime.
It was really all Spurs in OT. With San Antonio leading by six with 1:39 left, Marc Gasol missed a jumper that he makes 99 times out of 100, which took the air out of the building and effectively ended the game.
Tim Duncan led the charge for the Spurs and finished with 24 points (11-19), 10 boards, 5 assists and 2 blocks. He was strong throughout and, despite logging 40 minutes in regulation, scored 7 points in overtime. Tony Parker scored a team-high 26.
Ginobili dropped 19 off the bench with 7 rebounds and 5 assists. He shot 5-of-9 and got to the line 8 times in 30 minutes. That’s essentially a perfect Ginobili game for the Spurs, minus the missed three late in the game. They’re best when he doesn’t need to be a volume shooter, and can instead get other guys involved while still being aggressive.
Tiago Splitter shot 5-for-5 and finished with 11 and 6 and Kawhi Leonard grabbed 11 rebounds.
Mike Conley continued to play at a high level for Memphis, and finished with 20 points, 4 assists and 5 steals. He took an uncharacteristically high amount of shots (21), but Memphis needed his offense. He’s been one of the two or three biggest breakout stars of the Playoffs (Curry, George—Hibbert’s not too far off).
Gasol scored 16 with 14 rebounds and 5 assists and Zach Randolph also double-doubled with 14 and 15. Gasol has played pretty well in this series but has semi-disappointed. I thought he’d really step up after a tremendous series against the Thunder, but he’s struggled offensively. In three Conference Finals games, he’s shooting 18-for-46 (39 percent). Same goes for Z-Bo, who has battled down low all series but will carry a 30 percent three-game shooting clip (12-for-40) into a must-win Game 4.
Quincy Pondexter was sweet off the bench with 15 (3 treys), but fouled out with about a minute left, forcing an injured Tayshaun Prince back onto the floor. This was something of a game-changer. On the last play of regulation, Conley decided against kicking out to Prince in the corner for a potential game-winning three-point attempt, opting instead to take a difficult shot. Perhaps he would have had more faith in Pondexter. Tony Allen scored 12 with 7 rebounds, but missed two crucial free throws in the last couple of regulation minutes.
The Grizz are in deep, deep trouble, but it ain’t over. With a Game 4 win, they can go into Game 5 knowing that a potential Game 6 would be back in Memphis. From there, of course, anything can happen in Game 7…
Plus, the longer the series drags on, the more the aging Spurs may wear down. It’s all precisely 142,241,020 times easier said than done, but the Grizzlies won four straight in each of the first two rounds. They’ll need to do it a third time, and the journey will begin on Monday night.—Leo Sepkowitz