Memphis down but not out as Spurs grind out victory
San Antonio take a 2-0 lead in series but they know that might count for nothing as Memphis can easily come back as they've done in the past
If the Western Conference finals seem the slightest bit over after two San Antonio win, hold that thought for a minute.
The Spurs have been here before and don't feel at all comfortable with a 2-0 lead. And if there's any team that's not fazed by such a hole, it's the Memphis Grizzlies.
With the series shifting to Tennessee for game three, it's just starting to get interesting.
Tony Parker had 15 points and a career play-off high 18 assists, Tim Duncan scored San Antonio's first six points of overtime and the Spurs bounced back after squandering a 13-point lead in the fourth quarter to beat the Grizzlies 93-89.
"I think everybody understands that we haven't done anything yet," Parker said. "We just protected our home court."
After outplaying the Grizzlies by a wide margin for the first seven quarters, the Spurs finally showed weakness, letting Memphis finish regulation on a 15-2 run to tie it at 85 on Mike Conley's runner with 18.2 seconds left.
Duncan opened the extra period with a lay-up, and then hit a tiebreaking putback. He then made a runner that bounced high off the back iron and rattled in for a 91-87 lead with one minute and eight seconds to play.
The Grizzlies had a chance to tie after Jerryd Bayless hit a jumper and Parker missed one of two free throws with 14.6 seconds left, but Bayless' three-pointer from the left wing was off target.
"I hate that we gave up that big of a lead in that situation," said Duncan, who had 17 points and nine rebounds while missing most of the second half with foul trouble. "But we were resilient enough to go to overtime."
A 2-0 lead hardly seems safe for the Spurs, who haven't forgotten how they won the first two games of last year's Western finals before losing four in a row to the Oklahoma City Thunder.
And the Grizzlies have already rallied once from a 2-0 deficit in a play-off series this year, coming back to beat the Los Angeles Clippers in six in the first round.
"We feel like we can get this next game and we have to play with that same confidence that we've always had at home," said Conley, who had 18 points to match Bayless for the team lead. "This series is far from over, and we have to believe that."
After game one, Memphis' guards outlined a plan that involved picking up their defence earlier on Parker to stop him getting into the lane and putting the Grizzlies into the scramble mode that allowed San Antonio to hit a franchise play-off record 14 three-pointers in the opener.
It wasn't until late that any of their plans started working.
"He's a Hall of Fame guard … He's been around, he's done great things in his career," Memphis coach Lionel Hollins said. "He just controlled the pace and got in the paint, found open guys ... We battled him, though, and we wound up being in the game."
And maybe the series.