NBA: San Antonio runs over Memphis in Game 1

The NBA Western Conference finals tipped off on Sunday with the Memphis Grizzlies hitting the road to face the San Antonio Spurs in the AT&T Center. Playing in front of a published attendance of 18,581, the Spurs got their best-of-seven series with the Grizzlies off to a solid start as the put up a 17 spot in the first quarter, survived a big comeback in the third and ran away with the contest in the fourth, to record a 105:83 pounding. This is Memphis’ first trip to the conference finals.

The big stat on the night was success from long-range, as San Antonio was able to connect on 14 of 29 (48.3%) from downtown, while the Grizzlies could only manage to hit 5 of 12 (41.7%), with all five coming from Quincy Pondexter off the bench. Overall, the Spurs outshot their guests 40 of 76 (52.6%), to 32 of 74 (43.2%). The Memphis big men, Marc Gasol, 15 points and 7 rebounds, and Zach Randolph, 2 points and 7 rebounds, were a bit light on points and rebounds in this contest with Randolph only picking up a deuce when he’s averaging nearly 20 a game this post season. The tough duo have been averaging 37.1 points per game and 16.7 rebounds per game over the 11 playoff games Memphis has played this season.

Zach and Marc [Gasol] are a heck of a combination. Everything they do is real difficult to stick with, and you’ve got to have a mindset to do it on every down. I thought we did the best job we could do.”
— Spurs coach Gregg Popovich


The Spurs’ Tony Parker directs traffic while Jerryd Bayless of Memphis gets his ‘D’ on.

The Spurs came out on fire in the first frame, outscoring Memphis 31:14 on every type shot they could come up with. During the first 12 the hosts knocked down four triples, eight points in the paint, six points on jumpers, and five free throws. Marc Gasol hit the first basket of the night, giving Memphis the only lead they would hold for the entire game, a lead that lasted 22 seconds as Kawhi Leonard hit the Spurs first three-ball of the contest to take the lead with just 43 seconds off the clock. With Leonard’s three, the Spurs ran off nine unanswered, then Gasol hit a jumper, Tim Duncan countered with a jump shot of his own for San Antonio, then Tony Allen got an assist from Mike Conley and knocked down hit first deuce of the night. Over the next four minutes the Spurs would go on a 12:2 run behind six from Danny Green, four from Tony Parker and a jumper from Duncan, giving the home club a 23:8 lead. After a jumper and a lay-up from the Grizzlies, Matt Bonner hit consecutive three-pointers for San Antonio to extend the margin to 17 with a minute left in the quarter. Darrell Arthur got a jumper for Memphis and with 0.6 on the clock Manu Ginobili was fouled by Arthur with attempting a last second shot. Ginobili dropped two of the three singles, giving the Spurs a comfortable 31:14 advantage after the first 12 minutes of play.

It was just one of them nights. I’ve been double-teamed the whole season. A lot of my shots were off. I didn’t get as good a look as I wanted to. It was just the rhythm of the game. I’ve got to be better, as I told my teammates. I’ve got to be better for them.
— Zach Randolph

Mid-way through the second Parker dropped in a jumper to give the Spurs a 20-point lead, 43:23. Conley executed a nifty reverse-layup, Gasol hit two in the paint, and Allen followed-up with a layup to slice the gap to 13, 45:32. Bonner got this third three-ball to fall, but Gasol tallied his 10th and 12th points on back-to-back jumpers to get Memphis to within 12. Leonard put a damper on the comeback with a three-pointer, and Conley closed out the half with a split on a pair of charity tosses, giving the Spurs a 14-point margin at the end of the half, 51:37.

Parker dropped a jumper in to push the lead to 16 with just over six minutes to play in the third, 62:46. After a minute of relative inactivity, Pondexter got a fast-break layup off a Gasol rebound, then came down and dropped in a triple after a Parker miss. Ginobili found that lid on the basket as well and Pondexter took advantage of the stop to pull the Grizzlies three points closer with his eighth straight. On the other end Duncan threw the ball away resulting in a Jerryd Bayless steal that he finished off with a big dunk to cap a 0:10 run that brought Memphis to within six, 62:56. Unfortunately for the guests, other than Gasol splitting a pair of charity tosses, those would be the last points the Grizzlies would tally in the quarter, while the Spurs would go on an 11:1 run over the last 3:43 of the third quarter, giving them back a 16-point lead, 73:57, with a quarter to play.

Allen got Memphis’ first four, but the Spurs would go on another 12:2 run early in the final frame to extend their lead back to 21. San Antonio would build a lead a large as 28 with 1:32 to play, but the Grizzlies would hit the final six to cut the gap to 22 as time ran out, giving the Spurs a big win in Game 1 and a 1-0 lead in the series.

Parker was game-high with 20 points and 9 rebounds for the Spurs. Leonard added 18, Green dropped in 16, Bonner hit four triples off the bench for 12, and Gary Neal tallied 11.

Pondexter led the Grizzlies with 17 points off the bench, on 5 of 9 from behind the arc. Gasol added 15 points and 7 rebounds, and Conley contributed 14 points and 8 assists.

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