The Memphis Grizzlies came to San Antonio with the NBA’s best record and a 4 game winning streak. The Grizzlies also had a half game lead over those same Spurs in the Southwest Division. The Spurs were in a foul mood because the league had fined the organization $250,000 for resting Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobli, Tony Parker and Danny Greene against the Miami Heat Thursday night. The Spurs were on the last game of a 6 game road trip, and it just happened to be a nationally televised game between two of the league’s marquee teams.San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich sent the four players home on a commercial flight in order to rest up for the showdown against Memphis. It added up to intense early season match-up that could be a potential playoff preview between the Spurs and Grizzlies
The first quarter was pretty much even with neither team leading by more than 3 points. The Grizzlies ended the quarter with a 22-21 lead. The Grizzlies led by as many as 6 points early in the second quarter, but the Spurs pulled to within one again at halftime 46-45. As has been their pattern this season, the Grizzlies had a strong third quarter, as they outscored the Spurs 27-15 in the quarter to take a 73-60 lead into the fourth.
Memphis led by 14 with 9:41 left. However, the Spurs went on an 13-3 run to pull within 79-75 with 6:39 left. The Grizzlies maintained a narrow lead until Ginobli tied it up with 57 seconds left with a 3 pointer to make it 87-87. Neither team would score again in regulation. Memphis forward Rudy Gay missed a 3 point shot with 31 seconds left. Ginobli missed a layup and forward Zach Randolph grabbed the rebound and Memphis called a timeout. Jerryd Bayless missed a 3 pointer at the buzzer that sent the teams into overtime.
In overtime, the Spurs took their largest lead of the game at 97-90 with 1:22 left. The Grizzlies fought back to 97-95 on a Mike Conley 3 pointer with 43 seconds to go. Spurs guard Gary Neal missed a 3 pointer with 15 seconds left. Bayless grabbed the rebound but threw the ball away with 11 seconds left. Tony Parker buried 2 free throws to seal the 99-95 win for the Spurs.
Memphis shot 36.4% from the field including 4/15 on three pointers. The Grizzlies made 19 of 22 free throws. Memphis had 52 rebounds, 25 assists, 10 steals, 4 blocks and 19 turnovers. The Grizzlies had 7 fast break points and 42 in the paint.
Memphis center Marc Gasol had 20 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals, and a block. Randolph had 17 points, 15 rebounds, and 2 assists. Conley had 18 points, 2 rebounds, 12 assists, and 4 steals. Gay had 15 points, 10 rebounds, 3 assists, and 2 steals. Darrell Arthur had 10 points off the bench. The Grizzlies were without shooting guard Tony Allen for the second straight game. Allen is out with a groin injury.
The Spurs shot 41.6% from the field including 7/29 from 3 point range. San Antonio made 18 of 24 free throws. The Spurs had 48 rebounds, 21 assists, 12 steals, 5 blocks, and 16 turnovers. San Antonio scored 22 fast break points and had 44 in the paint.
Parker had 30 points, 4 rebounds, 6 assists, a steal and a block. Duncan had 27 points, 15 rebounds, 4 assists, a steal, and a block. Neal had 13 points and 5 rebounds. Ginobli had 10 points, 5 rebounds, 6 assists, 6 steals, and a block. ( I guess the extra day off helped the Spurs’ Big Three, huh?) Danny Greene was scoreless though and left the game in the third quarter with tightness in his hamstring. The Spurs were without forwards Stephen Jackson and Kawhi Leonard who are both out indefinitely with injuries.
It was the fifth straight win for the Spurs against the Grizzlies, as San Antonio swept the season series against Memphis last year. Memphis hasn’t beaten San Antonio since the Grizzlies stunningly eliminated the Spurs in the first round of the 2011 Western Conference Playoffs. The Grizzlies are now tied with the Miami Heat for the best record in the league, and still lead the Spurs by percentage points in the Southwest. Memphis is 12-3 this season and San Antonio is 14-4. Still, it has to be a frustrating, heartbreaking loss for the Grizzlies in a game that it looked like they had in hand in the fourth quarter.
Next up for the Grizzlies is a home game against the 7-10 Phoenix Suns Tuesday night. The Spurs will host the 8-7 Milwaukee Bucks Wednesday night. The Grizzlies and Spurs will meet again January 11 in Memphis.