Tuesday evening, the San Antonio Spurs got a career playoff-high 18 assists from Tony Parker to help defeat the Memphis Grizzlies, 93-89, in overtime to go up two games to none in their best-of-seven Western Conference playoff final. Parker also had 15 points to supplement the 17 by Tim Duncan, as the Spurs got double-figure scoring from all five starting players in a balanced offensive effort at the AT&T Center.
Both teams got off to a very tentative start in the first quarter, with the Memphis defense holding San Antonio to an uncharacteristic 15 points – but it was marred by exceptionally poor perimeter shooting which saw both teams tossing up more airballs than buckets and turning the ball over routinely. The inside play of San Antonio’s Tiago Splitter, who finished with 14 points and Kawhi Leonard, who had 12, effectively kept the Spurs in the quarter. But in the second quarter, the Spurs picked up the pace, with Danny Green, Gary Neal and Matt Bonner all hitting threes en route to 31 points for the quarter – resulting in a 15-point halftime lead.
The Spurs, however, couldn’t stand prosperity and allowed Memphis slowly back into the game in the third. With eight minutes left in the quarter, Duncan committed three personal fouls and a turnover in a span of 30 seconds and wound up on the bench for much of the rest of regulation. This allowed the Grizzlies’ Zach Randolph to go to work inside. He finished with 15 points and a monstrous 18 rebounds (11 defensive) and was instrumental in getting the Grizzlies back to an 85-85 tie with 18 seconds left in regulation. Along the way, Randolph had timely and considerable help inside from Marc Gasol, who notched a double-double of his own with 12 points and 14 boards.
The Grizzlies comeback wasn’t just won on the inside, however. Mike Conley had 18 points on 6-14 shooting, including two three-pointers, and Jerryd Bayless was huge off the bench with 18 points and 3 assists. Memphis’s Bayless and Quincy Pondexter combined for nine fourth-quarter points that complemented Randolph’s relentless scoring attack.
The overtime period was punctuated by the return of Duncan, who tallied six crucial points for San Antonio, while the Grizzlies went a woeful 2-of-12 from the floor. For the night, Memphis hit a mediocre 34% of their field goals. Duncan’s presence was also keenly felt through his blocked shots – he had four as the Spurs doubled the Grizzlies up in that category, 12-6. These blocks were of considerable importance as the Grizzlies out-rebounded the Spurs 60-46, including a 19-4 margin on the offensive glass. For example, at one juncture in the first period, the Grizzlies put up seven shots under the rim on one possession, only to be denied every time by the Spurs swarming and tenacious defense.
Game 3 of the series is at Memphis’ FedEx Forum on Saturday.