Tim Duncan steps up once again to put Spurs one win from finals
Veteran San Antonio centre dominates Grizzlies in overtime for second game, leaving Memphis trailing 3-0 in Western Conference showdown
Tim Duncan is doing his very best to get the San Antonio Spurs back to the NBA finals one more time.
The 37-year-old centre took control in overtime for a second straight game, this time scoring the first five points as the Spurs rallied from an 18-point deficit to beat the Memphis Grizzlies 104-93. That put them a win away from their first finals since 2007.
"He was huge for us the other night in overtime and got it done for us, and he did it again tonight," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said of the two-time MVP. "That's why he is considered as great as he has for the last 17 years. He's been unbelievable. He feels a responsibility to carry us in those kinds of times, and he did it again tonight."
Duncan wants to get back to the finals after being on the verge last year. He said he was more aggressive in overtime after being a bit tentative in regulation.
"I'm not worried about how old I am or whatever, whatever it may be," Duncan said. "I'm very focused on having another opportunity to make it to a championship and try to win, that's all."
The Spurs grabbed a 3-0 lead in the Western Conference finals and now have won five straight this post-season. With the memory of blowing a 2-0 lead a year ago in the West finals to Oklahoma City, when they lost the next four, the Spurs shook off their sloppy play early and pushed the young Grizzlies to the edge of elimination in the first West final played in Memphis.
The Grizzlies knocked off the Clippers after trailing 2-0 and upset the West's top seed in Oklahoma City in the semi-finals. Now their task is even tougher with game four in Memphis tomorrow morning (Hong Kong time).
"We've been fortunate to get this far, and we've got to play better if we want to continue," Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins said.
Memphis set up for the final shot to win in regulation, but guard Mike Conley missed on a runner at the buzzer. He said he went a little too deep in the paint on the shot.
No NBA team have lost a series when leading 3-0.
"It is frustrating, but you know it gives us hope at the same time knowing that we can fight our way back," Conley said. "And we have had chances to win each of these games. This was a tough one to swallow, but it was a good learning lesson. There's no group of guys I'd rather be with down 3-0 to try to fight back in it."
San Antonio, who didn't lead this game until the opening minute of the fourth quarter, can wrap up the series in Memphis and get back to the finals for a shot at their fifth title.
"One of the best wins I've witnessed being a Spur," Spurs guard Manu Ginobili said.
The Spurs hit eight of their 10 shots in overtime, with Duncan scoring seven of his 24 points. He also had 10 rebounds. Tony Parker had five of his 26 in overtime, and even Tiago Splitter, playing with four fouls, scored six in the extra five minutes.
"For whatever reason, we didn't panic," Parker said of a start that included four turnovers in the first quarter. "We knew they wanted to come with a lot of energy in the first half. We played our game and came back."
Mike Conley led Memphis with 20 points. Marc Gasol had 16 points and 14 rebounds, Zach Randolph added 14 and 15, and Quincy Pondexter had 15 points. But the Grizzlies, who thrived at the free-throw line in knocking off Oklahoma City, got there only 18 times and made only 10.
The Spurs dominated the Grizzlies in the paint, outscoring Memphis 58-42 to offset their 17 turnovers, which the Grizzlies turned into 25 points. After the Grizzlies outscored San Antonio in the first quarter, the Spurs outscored them in each of the final three periods and overtime, where they had an 18-7 edge to put away the win.
Memphis, who had a lead for only 90 seconds in San Antonio, opened up with their trademark grit and grind defence, forcing eight turnovers in the first quarter to grab an 18-point lead. The Spurs quit turning the ball over and whittled away that lead to set up an exciting fourth quarter where the teams swapped the lead 11 times with 10 ties - all in the final 17 minutes.
"They went small real quick, and we couldn't contain the pick and roll," Gasol said. "It's painful to watch."