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A Grizzlies assistant coach for the past six seasons, he was promoted on draft day after his team couldn’t agree with head coach Lionel Hollins on a new contract. Hollins entrusted him with the defense the past two seasons, and the Grizzlies have become one of the league’s best defensive teams while winning a franchise-record 56 games last season under Hollins.

“Lionel is comfortable in his own skin,” Joerger said. “He does a great job being who he is, and that’s something I need to be also. These guys know me as an assistant coach and now I’m going to be a head coach in demeanor and everything, but I still have to be who I am. If I try to be something different, it’s not going to work.”

He is a hard-working career coach who washed jerseys and booked halftime acts when he was assistant coach/general manager in Bismarck and credits part of his success to coaches such as Karl and Saunders, both of whom welcome him to their training camps a decade or more ago.

Joerger spent several days watching Saunders during the Wolves’ 2003 training camp when Saunders taught his intricate offense to newcomers Latrell Sprewell and Sam Cassell on a team that reached the Western Conference finals that season.

“I love the way Flip coaches offense,” Joerger said.

Reported by Jerry Zgoda of the Minneapolis Star Tribune

Memphis Grizzlies re-sign Jon Leuer

Memphis Grizzlies re-sign Jon Leuer

The Memphis Grizzlies re-signed forward Jon Leuer to a multi-year contract, the team announced today. Leuer is considered bench support, and isn’t expected to receive many minutes.

Leuer (6-10, 230) averaged 2.0 and 1.3 rebounds on .481 shooting in 6.7 minutes in 28 games for the Grizzlies and Cleveland Cavaliers last season.  He totaled two points and three rebounds in 11 minutes over five appearances during the 2013 NBA Playoffs.

Memphis acquired the 24-year-old from Cleveland in a midseason trade on Jan. 22, 2013.

The Long Lake, Minn. native holds career averages of 3.8 points and 2.1 rebounds on .504 shooting in 10.1 minutes in 73 games (12 starts) over two seasons with the Milwaukee Bucks, Cavaliers and Grizzlies.  Following a four-year career at the University of Wisconsin, Leuer was drafted by Milwaukee in the second round (40th overall) of the 2011 NBA Draft before being traded to Houston on June 27, 2012 and later claimed by Cleveland off waivers.

Memphis Grizzlies re-sign Tony Allen

Memphis Grizzlies re-sign Tony Allen

The Memphis Grizzlies re-signed guard Tony Allen to a multi-year contract, the team announced today.

“Tony’s energy, effort and passion have connected with the City of Memphis, both on and off the court,” Grizzlies CEO Jason Levien said.  “We are absolutely thrilled to bring back Tony and his intensity to the Grizzlies.”

Allen (6-4, 225) posted 10.3 points, 6.1 rebounds and 2.00 steals on .432 shooting in 28.1 minutes in 15 games during the 2013 NBA Playoffs, helping Memphis advance to the Western Conference Finals for the first time in franchise history.  The 31-year-old averaged 8.9 points, a career-high 4.6 rebounds and 1.51 steals on .445 shooting in 26.7 minutes in 79 games (all starts) during the 2012-13 regular season, in which the Grizzlies won a franchise-record 56 contests.

Nicknamed “The Grindfather,” Allen has earned numerous defensive honors while helping transform the Grizzlies into one of the most tenacious defensive teams in the NBA.  Allen has been named to the NBA All-Defensive Team in all of his three seasons in Memphis, including First Team selections in each of the past two seasons.  He headlined the 2012-13 NBA All-Defensive First Team by receiving more points from the voting panel than any other player.

Additionally, the Chicago native has finished in the top 6 in the voting for NBA Defensive Player of the Year in all three seasons in Memphis, placing fourth in the balloting in 2010-11, sixth in 2011-12 and fifth in 2012-13.

Memphis has qualified for the NBA Playoffs in all three seasons after signing Allen as a free agent on July 13, 2010, making trips to the 2013 Western Conference Finals and 2011 Western Conference Semifinals and earning the first three playoff series victories in team history.  The Grizzlies led the NBA in forced turnovers and steals in Allen’s first two seasons in Memphis (2010-11 and 2011-12) after finishing 17th and 24th in the league in those categories, respectively, the season before his arrival.

The nine-year NBA veteran owns career averages of 8.0 points, 3.0 rebounds, 1.3 assists and 1.29 steals on .475 shooting in 20.8 minutes in 545 games (249 starts) with the Memphis Grizzlies and Boston Celtics.  Allen has helped guide his teams to the postseason in seven of his nine seasons and captured the 2008 NBA Championship as a member of the Celtics.  He was drafted by Boston in the first round (25th overall) of the 2004 NBA Draft after leading the Oklahoma State University to the 2004 NCAA Final Four.

Tony Allen will stay with Memphis Grizzlies

The Memphis Grizzlies have re-signed Tony Allen to a four-year contract worth $20 million, a person familiar with the agreement said Tuesday.

Allen is one of the league’s best perimeter defenders and a key to the Grizzlies’ run to the Western Conference finals last season. He drew interest from other teams but decided to stick with a Memphis team coming off the best season in franchise history.

”Memphis stand up!!!!” Allen wrote on his Twitter page.

”Thank you Lord for all that you’ve done and all that (you’re) doing in my life. I am so grateful and humbled.”

Reported by Brian Mahoney of the Associated Press

Jerryd Bayless

Grizzlies guard Jerryd Bayless has exercised his player option and will return to Memphis for the 2013-14 season, the team announced today.

The scoring guard is able to provide explosiveness and points off the bench.

Bayless (6-3, 210) recorded 8.7 points, 2.2 rebounds and 3.3 assists on .419 shooting in 22.1 minutes, playing in a career-high 80 contests (four starts) for Memphis last season.  The 24-year-old averaged 9.3 points in 15 appearances during the 2013 NBA Playoffs, scoring a postseason career-high 19 points on April 20 at LA Clippers in Game 1 of the first round.

The five-year veteran owns career averages of 8.3 points, 1.9 rebounds and 2.9 assists on .414 shooting in 19.2 minutes in 309 games (40 starts) with the Portland Trail Blazers, New Orleans Hornets, Toronto Raptors and Memphis Grizzlies.  After his freshman season at the University of Arizona, the Phoenix native was drafted by the Indiana Pacers in the first round (11th overall) of the 2008 NBA Draft and traded to Portland on draft night.  He signed with Memphis as a free agent on July 13, 2012.

The Denver Nuggets have acquired F Darrell Arthur and the draft rights to Joffrey Lauvergne from the Memphis Grizzlies in exchange for C Kosta Koufos, general manager/executive vice president of basketball operations Tim Connelly announced tonight.

Arthur, 6-9, 235, has averaged 6.7 points and 3.9 rebounds in four NBA seasons. He averaged 6.1 points and 2.9 rebounds in 59 games for the Grizzlies in 2012-13.

Selected 27th overall in 2008, Arthur enjoyed his best season in 2010-11, averaging a career-high 9.1 points and 4.3 rebounds. He missed the 2011-12 season while recovering from an Achilles’ injury.

Koufos, 7-0, 265, started 81 games for the Nuggets last season. He averaged a career-high 8.0 points and 6.9 rebounds while shooting .581 from the field.

Lauvergne (pronounced LA-vern-yea), 6-11, 240, was selected 55th overall out of France. He played for three top pro leagues in Europe last season – France Pro A, Spanish ABC and Serbia A.

The 21-year-old averaged 10.6 points and 6.1 rebounds in eight games with Partizan in Serbia, and 6.2 points in 14 games with Elan Chalon in France. He also was a member of the French junior national team in 2011 and will represent the national team this summer.

David Joerger

The Memphis Grizzlies announced today that the team has hired David Joerger (YAY-ger) as the team’s next head coach.

“We are thrilled to announce we have hired Dave Joerger as the next head coach of the Memphis Grizzlies,” said CEO & Managing Partner Jason Levien. “Not only do we think Dave will continue to grow the team’s league-best defensive identity, but we believe we have one of the league’s budding coaching talents to lead our team. We are happy the Joerger family will continue to call Memphis home for years to come.”

One of the most successful minor league basketball coaches in history, Joerger recently completed his sixth season as an assistant on the Grizzlies’ bench and his second as lead assistant.

With Joerger on the sidelines, the Grizzlies have steadily become one of the league’s most tenacious defenses, leading the NBA in points allowed (89.3) and ranking second in overall defensive rating.   Memphis has improved its defensive rating every season with Joerger on the bench.

The Grizzlies have generated 2,105 steals over the past three seasons, 180 more than any other NBA team in that time span, and paced the league in both steals per game and forced turnovers during the 2010-11 and 2011-12 seasons.  Memphis also was represented on the 2012-13 NBA All-Defensive Teams by three starters, including Tony Allen (First Team), 2012-13 NBA Defensive Player of the Year Marc Gasol (Second Team) and Mike Conley (Second Team).  Allen has made the All-Defensive Team in each of the past three seasons, including two consecutive First Team selections.

Before earning his first NBA assistant coaching job with the Grizzlies, Joerger gained fame as head coach of the 2007 NBA D-League Champion Dakota Wizards.  Dakota’s 2007 championship was Joerger’s fifth as a head coach.  With one International Basketball Association (IBA) title and three in the Continental Basketball Association (CBA), Joerger also owns two CBA Coach of the Year Awards and a head coaching record of 232-117 (.665).

After finishing his playing career at Moorhead State, Joerger got his start as the Dakota Wizards’ general manager when the franchise was a member of the IBA. He received his first opportunity on the sidelines as an assistant coach during the 1997-98 season.  After three years as an assistant, Joerger replaced head coach Duane Ticknor and led the Wizards to their first championship during the 2000-01 season. Prior to the 2001-02 season, the Wizards moved into the CBA where Joerger led the team to another title. Continuing his success, Joerger captured his third title in four years after the Wizards defeated the Idaho Stampede to win the 2004 CBA Championship.

During the summer of 2004, Joerger moved to Sioux Falls to become the head coach of the Skyforce and proceeded to win his fourth CBA Championship, giving him more minor league championships than other notable minor-league-turned-NBA head coaches Phil Jackson, George Karl, Flip Saunders and Eric Musselman combined.

Lionel Hollins

He is basketball’s Jack Del Rio, a man who thrived at playing defense and now comes alive coaching it, using deft methods to make men into maulers.

Could Lionel Hollins turn the Nuggets into defensive stalwarts as defensive coordinator Del Rio did the Broncos?

That’s part of the allure, part of why Nuggets management interviewed Hollins on Wednesday for the team’s head coaching job.

The 59-year-old Hollins, recently relieved of his duties as the Memphis Grizzlies coach, could end up swapping jobs with George Karl, the fired Nuggets coach who is a candidate to succeed Hollins in Memphis.

Hollins is coming off a trip to the Western Conference finals. In Denver, Hollins is in competition with Indiana Pacers assistant coach Brian Shaw, who had a second interview with the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday, according to media reports. The next few days could clear up the picture for numerous NBA teams looking for a head coach.

Reported by Benjamin Hochman of the Denver Post

Lionel Hollins

Lionel Hollins says the Memphis Grizzlies have told him they will not renew his contract as head coach, even though he’s the winningest coach in the franchise’s history coming off the team’s first trip to the Western Conference finals…

Hollins’ contract expires June 30, and his future with the team has been unsettled since the Spurs swept the Grizzlies in the West finals. Hollins has been the Grizzlies’ coach since replacing Marc Iavaroni in January 2009. He led Memphis to a better record each season since then, including a franchise-best 56-26 record this season. The Grizzlies beat first the Clippers, then top-seeded Oklahoma City in the playoffs.

Reported by Teresa M. Walker of the Associated Press

Lionel Hollins hopes to continue coaching the Memphis Grizzlies

Lionel Hollins doesn’t want to talk to any other NBA teams and wants to continue coaching the Memphis Grizzlies.

Hollins said Monday on Sports 56 WHBQ-AM in Memphis he thought everything was good after a meeting with team owner Robert Pera and chief executive officer Jason Levien a few days ago, but then heard the Grizzlies had given him permission to talk to other teams.

”People need to know from my perspective that I don’t want to talk to any other teams,” Hollins said. ”I want to be here. I told … the media after our exit interviews that if the team offered me a contract that I felt was fair, I’d sign it the next day.”

The Grizzlies declined to comment.

Hollins’ contract is up June 30. He addressed a variety of topics in a 28-minute interview but spent most of his time publicly defending his case to remain in Memphis. He has been with this franchise since the start as an expansion team in Vancouver in 1995 and made the move to Memphis with his only absence a stint in 2008 and part of 2009 as an assistant with Milwaukee.

Reported by the Associated Press

InsideHoops.com editor Jeff Lenchiner says: Although the Grizzlies were swept in the playoffs by the San Antonio Spurs, in general Hollins did a great job coaching the team this season. It’ll be a shame if the two sides part ways.

Future of Lionel Hollins in Memphis uncertain

After the Memphis Grizzlies’ season ended Monday in a sweep from the Western Conference finals by the San Antonio Spurs, the team’s biggest free agent this summer could be coach Lionel Hollins.

Hollins’ contract with the Grizzlies ends on June 30, and the Los Angeles Clippers, Brooklyn Nets and Milwaukee Bucks are expected to ask for permission to speak to him about their coaching openings, league sources told Yahoo! Sports. Hollins’ wish is to stay put in Memphis.

“I hope things get worked out quickly. I love our team and the possibilities,” Hollins texted Yahoo! Sports after the Grizzlies’ 93-86 Game 4 loss to the Spurs.

Hollins made $2.3 million this season in the last year of his contract, a source said. While the Grizzlies have interest in retaining Hollins, a contract extension has yet to be offered to him.

The Grizzlies have increased their winning percentage every season since Hollins was hired Jan. 25, 2009. He led the Grizzlies to their best record in franchise history (56-26) this season and first trip to the West finals, despite the midseason trade of Rudy Gay. The Grizzlies also have a new owner in Robert Pera.

Reported by Marc. J. Spears of Yahoo Sports

San Antonio Spurs reach NBA Finals

Tony Parker

The San Antonio Spurs are back in the NBA Finals for the first time since they won their last championship back in 2007.

Tony Parker scored 37 points in his best game this postseason, and the San Antonio Spurs finished off a sweep Monday night of the Memphis Grizzlies with a 93-86 win on Monday night in the Western Conference final.

The Spurs now have won six straight in these playoffs, handing two straight losses to a team that had been undefeated on their own court in their best postseason in franchise history. Memphis finished off its best season ever swept by the very same franchise that needed four games to knock them out of their first playoff appearance back in 2004.

Parker had his best game this postseason as he hit 15 of 21 and all six at the free throw line earning the Spurs and Tim Duncan plenty of rest before Game 1 of the Finals on June 6.

”He’s been amazing,” Duncan said of Parker. ”Every year he gets better and better and better. He’s been carrying us. You can see tonight he carried us the entire game.”

Duncan hugged Manu Ginobili before heading off the court, celebrating the chance at a title that slipped away a year ago when the Spurs blew a 2-0 lead to Oklahoma City losing four straight. The 37-year-old Duncan finished with 15 points and eight rebounds. Kawhi Leonard added 11…

The Spurs shot 51.3 percent (39 of 76) from the floor and outscored Memphis 52-32 in the paint, even though the Grizzlies had a 41-34 edge on the boards. Memphis led only briefly and the last at 6-4 as the Spurs took control early.

Memphis stayed close only by getting to the free throw line, making more shots there (17 of 24) than San Antonio took (12 of 13). The Grizzlies also got a career-high 22 points from reserve Quincy Pondexter, 18 of those in the second half. Pondexter was the only player from Memphis to shoot over .500. Zach Randolph finished with 13, continuing his struggles at the line where he was 5 of 8, and Marc Gasol had 14.

Reported by Teresa M. Walker of the Associated Press

Lionel Hollins is no fan of flopping

Lionel Hollins is no fan of flopping

In response to the NBA’s $5,000 flopping fine on Grizzlies guard Tony Allen after Game 2 of the Western Conference finals, Memphis coach Lionel Hollins conceded the league’s anti-flopping rules were appropriate and could possibly be enforced more widely.

“Flopping isn’t a part of the game and it shouldn’t be a part of the game,” Hollins said. “That’s why we have rules in place. There are probably a few more that could be called on a lot of people still in it.”

The NBA instituted new rules to deter flopping prior to this postseason. A violator will be fined $5,000 after the first infraction, $10,000 after the second, $15,000 after the third and $30,000 after his fourth flopping offense. Any subsequent violations are subject to league discipline. Allen was the fourth player to be issued a fine for flopping during this year’s playoffs.

Derek Fisher of the Oklahoma City Thunder, Jeff Pendergraph of the Indiana Pacers and J.R. Smith of the New York Knicks were each assessed a $5,000 fine.

Reported by Kevin Arnovitz of ESPN.com

Spurs vs Grizzlies Game 3 recap

Tim Duncan

Tim Duncan scored the first five points of overtime, and the San Antonio Spurs rallied from an 18-point deficit to beat the Memphis Grizzlies 104-93 Saturday night and move a win away from the NBA Finals.

The Spurs grabbed a 3-0 lead in the Western Conference finals and now have won five straight this postseason. 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.

San Antonio, which didn’t lead this game until the opening minute of the fourth quarter, can wrap up the series Monday in Memphis and get back to the finals for the first time since their last title in 2007.

The Spurs hit eight of their 10 shots in overtime, with Duncan scoring seven of his 24 points. Tony Parker had five of his 26 in overtime, and even Tiago Splitter playing with four fouls, scored six in the extra five minutes to finish with 11.

mike conley

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 No. 1 seed Oklahoma City in the semifinals, got there only 18 times and made only 10.

The Grizzlies last led 85-84 with 1:04 left in regulation on a 15-footer by Gasol. After that, they managed only to tie it up twice, the last on a layup by Randolph with 4:28 left in overtime. Duncan scored and knocked down the free throw with 4:10 remaining to put the Spurs ahead to stay.

Reported by Teresa M. Walker of the Associated Press

Spurs vs Grizzlies Game 3 preview

San Antonio Spurs at Memphis Grizzlies Game 3 is Saturday night at 9 p.m. ET.

Spurs vs Grizzlies Game 3 preview

The AP reports: The towels are showing up all around Memphis. They hang over neighborhood signs and even at a door to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. The sentiment? Believe Memphis. The Grizzlies certainly do. Yes, they are down 0-2 to San Antonio in their first Western Conference final, but they take heart in knowing they dug themselves out of an 0-2 hole in the first round against the Clippers. No NBA team has won separate series in the same postseason after losing the first two games. The Grizzlies now see only opportunity at home, where they have yet to lose this postseason. ”We got to believe,” Grizzlies forward Zach Randolph said. ”We got to be confident. We got to believe. Game 2 went down, we came all the way back and went to overtime, so we got to have that confidence and we got to believe in ourselves.”

The AP reports: ”We’re down 0-2 and we’ve got to take care of home just like they took care of home,” Grizzlies guard Tony Allen said Friday. ”Simple as that.” The Grizzlies’ confidence also stems from a return to the arena they call the ”Grindhouse.” They set a franchise record winning 32 games there this season, and they are 19-1 here since Feb. 8. Memphis also has lost three straight only twice this season, the last in mid-January. This series took a three-day break after the Spurs won 93-89 in overtime Tuesday night in Game 2. The Grizzlies took off Wednesday after flying home and practiced Thursday and Friday. The Spurs practiced Wednesday and Thursday before taking off Friday. The home team has won 17 of the last 20 games between these teams, and the Spurs lost both trips to Memphis during the regular season. With strong memories of blowing a 2-0 lead to Oklahoma City in the Western finals, the Spurs know the games in Memphis will be hard.

The AP reports: It would be tough for the Grizzlies to shoot much worse than they did in the first two games in San Antonio, including a stretch where they missed seven straight layups in one sequence. They missed 15 of 18 attempts inside 5 feet in the first half, a statistic that surprised Grizzlies guard Mike Conley because of their strength scoring in the paint.

Spurs vs Grizzlies Game 3 preview

The AP reports: The Grizzlies also want to make Spurs point guard Tony Parker work harder and spend more energy bringing the ball up the court. That also might slow Parker from getting his teammates involved, something he did all too well in Game 2 with a playoff-best 18 assists.

The San Antonio Express-News reports: For much of the season, the Grizzlies’ best offense has been to throw the ball at the rim, then let Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol score on offensive putbacks. Memphis enjoyed a 19-4 edge on the offensive glass in Game 2 but converted those second chances into only eight points. Expect that ratio to rise in Memphis, meaning the Spurs have to do a better job of limiting the Grizzlies to one shot per possession. Something akin to Game 1, when Memphis managed only 10 offensive boards, should suffice.

The San Antonio Express-News reports: A precautionary MRI to monitor the recovery of Tony Parker’s bruised left calf revealed he’s on track and, as expected, ready to play in Game 3 of the Western Conference finals on Saturday. “Everything is fine,” Parker said of the procedure, which was done before Thursday’s practice. “They still see a lot of blood but the size is going down. Like I said (Wednesday), I feel like I’m turning the corner and I feel like I’ll be fine for Saturday. “It feels better. Now, (the bruise) is like spread out. That’s why it felt like my Achilles was inflamed. Now it’s fine. Rest and treatment — ice and massaging to move all the blood out of there.”

The AP reports: Allen did not talk to reporters after Saturday’s shootaround for Game 3 against the Spurs. But Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins said whether Allen hit his head on the floor or not had nothing to do with the flagrant foul. Allen was grabbed out of the air by Spurs guard Manu Ginobili on a fast-break drive to the basket, and Hollins said it didn’t matter if Allen hit his head. ”They reviewed it, they still called it a flagrant,” Hollins said. ”Flopping is not a part of the game and shouldn’t be a part of the game. That’s why we have rules in place. There’s probably a few more that could be called on a lot of people that are still in the playoffs.”

The mayor of San Antonio says everyone knows the best barbecue and basketball comes from Texas. The mayor of Memphis notes barbecue is prized in his city, where restaurant smoke stacks rise like steeples.

So the mayors have bet barbecue on the NBA Western Conference final.

Mayor Julian Castro will pay up with barbecue from The Granary ‘Cue & Brew if the Spurs lose, while Memphis Mayor A C Wharton Jr. will put up the Rendezvous if the Grizzlies lose.

Reported by the Associated Press

Tony Parker

Tony Parker had 15 points and a career playoff-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 Memphis Grizzlies 93-89 on Tuesday night.

The Spurs took a 2-0 lead in the Western Conference finals with Game 3 on Saturday in Memphis.

Duncan opened the extra period with a layup, then made a tiebreaking putback on Parker’s missed jumper before making a runner that bounced high of the back iron and rattled in for a 91-87 lead with 1:08 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’ 3-pointer from the left wing was off-target.

Bayless and Mike Conley each had 18 points to lead Memphis.

Duncan had 17 points and nine rebounds, missing most of the second half with foul trouble before coming up with the key baskets in overtime.

Memphis stormed back from a 13-point deficit with a 15-2 run over the final 8 minutes of regulation to tie it at 85 on Conley’s runner in the lane with 18.2 seconds to play.

Reported by Jeff Latzke of the Associated Press

THE STAT: Despite the comeback, the game got away from the Grizzlies when they shot 24 percent in the second quarter and were outscored 31-18. Randolph went 0-for-7 and Tony Allen was 0-for-4. Memphis missed 14 straight shots to finish the half.

TURNING POINT: It was not enough to steal the win, but perhaps the fourth quarter has given the Grizzlies new life heading back home. Trailing 76-64, Memphis outscored San Antonio 21-9 even through the Grizzlies shot 38 percent from the floor. Memphis was down 0-2 in the first round after losing both games to open the Clippers series in L.A.

QUOTABLE II: “They ran at us. They got easy buckets, They got hot. But the second half I think we played more our basketball. We attacked, and of course everything works better when you make shots.”

Reported by Tim Price of NBA.com

zach randolph

Zach Randolph’s miserable Western Conference finals debut led to a sleepless night and a long film session.

The All-Star power forward and his Memphis Grizzlies are hardly down and out, though. In both rounds of the playoffs so far, Memphis has lost Game 1 before rallying back to knock out the Los Angeles Clippers and then the Oklahoma City Thunder.

This time, Randolph had his worst game ever in the playoffs, managing two points in a 105-83 blowout. His only lower-scoring game in 40 playoff appearances was when he played 1 minute as a rookie for Portland in a 2002 game.

“It’s more frustrating than embarrassing,” said Randolph, who missed his first seven shots in Game 1. “It’s basketball. It happens to the best of them.

“Muhammad Ali, he got knocked down before. What made him the greatest fighter in the world is he always bounced back.”

It took the Grizzlies two games to get off the mat in the first round, when they suffered a 21-point blowout at Los Angeles and then lost on a Chris Paul buzzer-beater in Game 2. Memphis then won the next four.

– Reported by Jeff Latzke of the Associated Press

Tony Parker

The San Antonio Spurs opened the Western Conference finals resembling the past champions who’ve been there so many times before.

The Memphis Grizzlies looked like the first-timers still trying to adapt to their first conference finals appearance.

Tony Parker had 20 points and nine assists, Kawhi Leonard scored 18 points and the Spurs struck first by beating Memphis 105-83 on Sunday.

San Antonio raced out to a 17-point lead in the first quarter, then came up with a response when Memphis rallied to get within six in the second half. Both teams pulled their starters with over 5 minutes left and the Spurs leading by 21…

The NBA’s stingiest defense wasn’t up to its usual standards, allowing the Spurs to hit 53 percent of their shots and a franchise postseason-record 14 3-pointers while All-Star power forward Zach Randolph struggled. Randolph had just two points, getting his only basket with 9:26 left in the game…

The four regular-season meetings were all won by the team with more points in the paint, but perimeter shooting proved to be a bigger factor in the playoff opener. Memphis, which was second in the NBA by holding opponents to 33.8 shooting on 3-pointers, let San Antonio make 13 of its first 24 from behind the arc and finish 14 of 29.

Danny Green connected three times and scored 16, and Matt Bonner hit four of his five attempts for 12 points…

Pondexter led Memphis with 17 points, Marc Gasol scored 15 and Mike Conley had 14 points and eight assists.

– Reported by Jeff Latzke of the Associated Press

Memphis’ abject lack of outside shooting (5 for 12 on 3s) killed them in two respects. One, they were outscored by 27 points from beyond the arc, easily the biggest different in the game. Two, it allowed the Spurs to basically ignore their perimeter players and collapse on the low-post tandem of Randolph and Marc Gasol.

Gasol was active early on, but he needed 16 shots to score 15 points while drawing just two free throws. Randolph barely got any touches at all, scoring his lone bucket on a tip-in while missing 7 of 8 shots. He had been averaging 19.7 points on 51.2-percent shooting in the postseason.

It’s fitting Gregg Popovich used a football metaphor to describe the Spurs’ strategy, which was basically a page taken straight from their first-round meeting with the Lakers — swarm the paint first, recover on shooters second.

“Zach and Marc are a heck of a combination, probably the best high-low combination in the league,” Popovich said. “Everything they do is really difficult to stick with, and you’ve got to have a mindset to do it on every down. You can’t be perfect at it. They’re just too good. But the effort was there for 48 minutes.”

– Reported by Dan McCarney of the San Antonio Express-News

NBA Western Conference Finals preview

Tim Duncan

It would be a mistake to view this as a direct sequel to 2011, when eighth-seeded Memphis knocked off the No. 1 Spurs in the first round to engineer one of the biggest upsets in recent NBA history.

The Grizzlies no longer have the steady, veteran hand of Shane Battier, or the wild cards that were Greivis Vasquez and O.J. Mayo. Neither are the Spurs relying on spare parts to shore up their front court around a hobbled Tim Duncan.

But with most of the main faces returning — Duncan, Zach Randolph, Marc Gasol, Tony Parker, Mike Conley, Manu Ginobili, both coaches — the tone of the matchup will remain the same: Football on hardwood.

Perhaps no team in the NBA is better at imposing their will than the Grizzlies. It is not by accident that their slogans — “Grit ‘N Grind” and “Whoop That Trick” — imply violence. The Grizzlies are tough, the Grizzlies are physical, and the Grizzlies are relentless, a perfect match with the blue-collar city they represent.

“If you thought this was physical,” Duncan said after the Spurs eliminated Golden State, “it’s going to turn up about 10 notches.”

The Spurs flinched badly under such circumstances two years ago, becoming only the fourth No. 1 seed to bow out in the first round. But after recapturing some of the defensive edge from their past championship campaigns, they can now give almost as good as they get.

– Reported by Dan McCarney of the San Antonio Express-News

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