Tony Parker dropped 37 Monday as the San Antonio Spurs put the finishing touches on the NBA Western Conference Finals with an 86:93 Game 4 win over the Memphis Grizzlies, in Memphis. The win means that the Spurs win the series in four straight and now wait until the NBA Finals start on June 6th. They also will have to wait for the winner of the Heat-Pacers series with the Heat up 2-1.
Parker’s motivation was made clear in the post game presser when he expressed his and the team’s feelings about getting Tim Duncan back to the finals. The last time the Spurs were in the finals was 2007, when they beat the Cleveland Cavaliers in four games with Parker named the MVP. Prior to that, the Spurs also won the finals in 1999, 2003, and 2005, all of which they won, and all of which Duncan was named the MVP in.
Since last year, I promised to him (Duncan) that we will go back, go back to the Finals and get an opportunity to win the whole thing and I’m trying to do my best, try to be aggressive every night. I think everybody on the team, we really want to do it for him. We win the West, and now it’s one more step. This is the hardest one.
Parker was basically unstoppable on Monday, with the help of a few friends. The talented Frenchman used every form of cut off solid picks to get open, and when he got an open look, he took advantage of it, shooting 15 of 21 from the floor and 6 of 6 from the line. On top of that, he dished off 6 assists of his own.
On the other side of the court, Quincy Pondexter tallied 22 points off the bench for Memphis, shooting 7 of 11 from the floor and 5 of 7 from the stripe.The Spurs got the lead they needed in the first frame, outscoring Memphis in the opening 12, 14:24, off a 1:12 run late in the quarter. Parker got his first 8 in the first frame.
Midway through the second the Grizzlies scored five unanswered to pull to within five, 25:30. The Spurs then went on a 2:8 run to get back to up 11, 27:38. Parker dropped in a lay-up with 26.1 seconds left in the half to put the Spurs up 34:44. Marc Gasol split a pair of free throws, and Jerryd Bayless knocked down a triple with 2.7 seconds to play in the half to cut the gap to six, 38:44, as they headed into the break.
San Antonio got their 10-point lead back after dropping in 8 in the first two minutes of the second half. Gasol and Zach Randolph hit jumpers for the Grizzlies to keep things from getting away early. With two minutes to play in the quarter Tiago Splitter got a layup to put the Spurs up 10, then Pondexter and Randolph scored seven straight to bring Memphis within three, 66:69. Kawhi Leonard dropped a three-pointer to snap the run to close scoring in the third, 66:72.
Memphis fought hard in the fourth, getting within three early, only to have the Spurs extend the lead back to 10 with just over five minutes to play. Randolph and Pondexter took over again and went on a 2:9 run to get back to three down, 86:89, with 48.7 on the clock. Parker hit a pair of singles with 30 seconds to play and Memphis couldn’t counter giving the Spurs their first trip back to the NBA Finals in six years.
I just think we learned that winning isn’t easy and winning championships is one of the hardest things you can possibly do. I think our guys really dug deep to get as far as we did, and San Antonio is a tremendous team. We’re going to take a couple of pages out of their book and move on. Hopefully, we do a lot better next year.
–Memphis forward Quincy Pondexter
Parker was game-high with 37 points and 6 assists, Duncan added 15 points and 8 rebounds, and Leonard contributed 11 points, 6 rebounds and 5 steals.
Pondexter led the Grizzlies with 22 points; Gasol added 15 points, 5 rebounds, and 5 assists; Randolph contributed 13 points and 8 rebounds.