Archive for the ‘ NBA Playoffs Blog ’ Category

Tim Duncan

It may seem as if the San Antonio Spurs are playing for an NBA title every year. Tim Duncan and Tony Parker know only too well how very long it’s been since their last chance.

Now they’re back in the Finals with their first chance at a championship since 2007, a really long time for a Spurs team that knows a thing or two - or three - about hoisting trophies.

”Honestly, it feels like it’s been forever since we’ve been to this point,” Duncan said Monday night after the Spurs advanced with a 93-86 win over the Memphis Grizzlies. ”We’ve been on the verge of kind of getting here. We still feel like we were in contention, but we can’t get over that hump. To get over that hump and get back in the Finals, it’s an amazing feeling, honestly.”

Parker scored 37 points to lead the Spurs, who finished off their second sweep this postseason for their fifth Western Conference title. The Spurs were just two wins away from a trip to the Finals a year ago before blowing that lead in six games to Oklahoma City.

Parker said he has learned just how tough it is to get there after winning his first NBA title at the age of 21.

”In 2007, we won our third one in five years and you think it’s going to keep coming,” Parker said. ”And I’m 25, and six years goes by and every year it gets tougher and tougher. Every team wants to beat you, and that’s why it makes it even more special to go back after all those years playing at a high level with the same coach, with the same big three but changing a couple pieces.”

Reported by Teresa M. Walker of the Associated Press

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

lebron james

Miami Heat vs Indiana Pacers Game 3 Recap

Miami put LeBron James right in the middle of the action Sunday night, and this time, the Indiana Pacers didn’t have an answer for him or his Miami Heat teammates.

By moving James to the post, the Heat won the scoring battle in the paint, kept Indiana at arm’s length and pulled away for a 114-96 victory and a 2-1 lead in the Eastern Conference finals.

”I made a conscious effort to get down in the post tonight, to put pressure on their defense,” James said. ”The coaching staff wanted me to be down there tonight, and my teammates allowed me to do that.”

It was a move reminiscent of when the Los Angeles Lakers played Magic Johnson in the post in place of the injured Kareem Abdul-Jabbar during the NBA Finals more than two decades ago.

And it worked just as well.

James rebounded from the two late turnovers that cost Miami in Game 2 by scoring 22 points, grabbing four rebounds and dishing out three assists. Hours after Dwyane Wade learned he would only be tagged with a flagrant foul from Game 2 and not a suspension, he finished with 18 points, eight assists and four rebounds. Chris Bosh added 15 points and three rebounds and all five Miami starters reached double figures.

The move allowed Miami to outscore Indiana 56-32 in the paint…

Miami committed a playoff franchise-low one turnover in the first half and finished with only five. James finished with none.

The Heat shot 54.5 percent against a team that finished the regular season with the NBA’s best defensive field goal percentage and also made 24 of 28 free throws. They matched the highest scoring output in a quarter during this season’s playoffs with 34, broke the franchise playoff record for points in a half (70) and fell one point short of tying the third-highest point total in a playoff game in franchise history…

David West

David West led Indiana with 21 points and 10 rebounds, while Roy Hibbert had 20 points and 17 rebounds. Paul George finished with 13 points and eight assists, not nearly enough to keep the Pacers perfect at home in the postseason…

Indiana opened the second half looking more like the team that had given Miami fits in Games 1 and 2. The Pacers hit back-to-back 3-pointers and got a three-point play from George Hill. When Lance Stephenson followed that with 1 of 2 free throws, the lead had been cut to 74-67.

It didn’t last.

Reported by Michael Marot of the Associated Press

“We were disappointed,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said Sunday of dropping Friday’s game, “and that’s where you have to embrace the competition.”

Still, few could have foreseen the number the Heat put on the scoreboard at halftime: 70.

A team that had scored 84 total points in the first halves of the series first two games simply detonated in the first half.

Like Dwyane Wade’s dunk on Roy Hibbert in the second quarter.

Like Udonis Haslem’s first six shots, each putting points on the board.

Like Chris Andersen’s first three shots, which gave him 15 consecutive playoff conversions from the field (a streak he would extend to 16 in the second half on his 4-of-4 night).

Heck even Ray Allen hit a 3-pointer to end the second quarter and give the Heat a franchise record for points in any playoff half, his first points in three visits to Indiana this season, having missed his first 11 shots of the season at the Fieldhouse.

“What we talked about in the locker room,” Spoelstra said, “was tonight was a team win.”

Reported by Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Miami Heat a team out of focus

This has been billed as the deepest, most talented Heat team in its 25-year history, a roster with so many capable and gifted pieces that MVP LeBron James would not need to be routinely overburdened.

Now would be a good time for those pieces to again validate that notion.

Face it: Excluding James and Chris Andersen, nobody on the Heat has been anything special in this 1-1 Eastern Conference finals against Indiana, which resumes with Game 3 on Sunday night at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

“LeBron may be a little tired — it’s hard carrying four people up and down the court,” TNT’s Charles Barkley cracked after the Pacers’ 97-93 win Friday night.

James leads the Heat in this series in points (33 per game), rebounds (9.0) and assists (6.5) and is tied for the lead in steals and blocks. Pacers forward David West conceded the Pacers’ focus has been “on those other guys. We knew LeBron was going to do what he does.”

Clearly, more is needed elsewhere, not only from the ensemble around the Big 3, but from two-thirds of the Big 3.

Reported by Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald

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

The supporting cast has always raised issues for this team the past three seasons, but now Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade have entered the equation. Bosh and Wade have done little to assist James through two games, at least not the way they have in the past.

James has scored 66 points in the series, nearly equaling Bosh and Wade combined (67).

“We’re just doing what we can with our opportunities,” said Wade, who has taken 15 fewer shots than James in the two games. “We don’t have the ball every possession. We’re doing what we can with our opportunities. Hopefully, we get more.”

Wade meant that he and the others have to play more aggressively instead of leaving all the responsibility on the league’s most valuable player. Even though he had two costly turnovers in the final minute, James finished with 36 points, eight rebounds and three assists in the losing effort. In Game 1, he recorded a triple-double with 30 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists, including the winning basket as time expired.

“You always want more [shots], but we can’t say nothing against LeBron,” Wade said. “He had a hell of a game [Friday]. If he’s not shooting, then other guys with opportunities better be making shots. Because if you make them, you can’t say nothing about anything.”

Reported by Shandel Richardson of the South Florida Sun Sentinel

In Game 2 of the Miami Heat vs Indiana Pacers Eastern Conference Finals playoff series, Dwyane Wade ran down the court, jumped, and elbowed Lance Stephenson in the head. It’s hard to say exactly what D-Wade was doing that caused him to jump at that exact moment, or what his elbow was doing and why it needed to connect with Stephenson in that manner.

Watch for yourself:

Read NBA fan reaction and share your opinion in this basketball forum topic.

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.”

lebron james

The Eastern Conference finals between the plucky Indiana Pacers and top-seeded Miami Heat is giving NBA fans a battle with all the hallmarks of a classic series, including a fierce duel between two red-hot players.

Miami’s LeBron James, the top player in the league today, was always going to be the key figure in the 2013 playoffs but Indiana’s Paul George has emerged as the young pretender to his crown with the best-of-seven series tied at 1-1.

Toward the end of Indiana’s 97-93 road win on Friday in which James carried a strangely misfiring Heat team with a game-high 36 points, the 23-year-old George delivered game-winning defense against the Heat star to add to his 22 points.

There were moments where the play between the two truly took on the nature of a duel, none more so than a wild sequence in the closing seconds of the third quarter.

Moments after George beat James en route to powering home a highlight-reel dunk, the league’s reigning Most Valuable Player, facing George, responded with a three-pointer to close the quarter and cut Indiana’s lead to 76-74.

James, 28, then slapped hands with George and, according to the Pacers forward, said: “I got you back young fella.”

Reported by Simon Evans of Reuters

roy hibbert

The Indiana Pacers threw open the NBA Eastern Conference finals on Friday, upsetting the Miami Heat with a 97-93 victory to level the best-of-seven series at 1-1.

LeBron James scored 36 points for Miami but gave up two crucial turnovers down the stretch that cost the Heat, while Roy Hibbert top-scored for the Pacers with 29 points and Paul George added 22 and produced some outstanding defensive work.

“That was a heck of a basketball game wasn’t it?” said Pacers head coach Frank Vogel, whose team never looked intimidated in either of the opening games on the defending champions’ home court.

“This team believe we can win this series and they are giving it all their might, playing with confidence and rising to the challenge,” he added.

The Pacers took full advantage of a slow start from Miami, grabbing a 10-point lead midway through the first quarter and they were up 53-47 at halftime.

With James producing some outstanding play yet again, Miami fought back and led 88-84 with 6:09 on the clock but, as in Wednesday’s Game One overtime thriller, the Pacers refused to buckle and came roaring back.

Reported by Simon Evans of Reuters

Roy Hibbert

David West punched two passes from LeBron James away in the final minute, then punched the air.

He had plenty of reason to celebrate.

The Eastern Conference finals are tied, and home-court advantage now belongs to West and the Indiana Pacers.

Roy Hibbert scored a postseason career-high 29 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, West broke up two passes by James for huge turnovers, and the Pacers evened the East title series at a game apiece with a 97-93 victory over the Miami Heat in Game 2 on Friday night.

”We haven’t done anything yet,” Hibbert said. ”We haven’t closed the series out. We won one game. A lot of us feel we should be up 2-0.”

Paul George scored 22 points, George Hill added 18 and West finished with 13 for the Pacers, who handed the Heat just their fourth loss in their last 50 games, closed the game on a 13-5 run - and denied one of the game’s best playmakers in James twice in the final moments to finish it off…

With Indiana up 95-93, West intercepted a pass that James was throwing to Ray Allen with 43 seconds left. Indiana didn’t cash in that mistake, instead turning the ball over with a shot-clock violation.

So on the next Miami trip, West denied James - who led all scorers with 36 points - again…

The Heat got 17 points from Chris Bosh and 14 from Dwyane Wade. The Heat led 88-84 in the fourth quarter, only to let the lead, the game and the home-court edge slip away, and James had almost an expressionless look afterward…

Hibbert was creating one problem after another for Miami, so James took it upon himself to challenge him in the fourth. And with about 8 minutes left, he swatted a putback attempt away from the 7-foot-2 Indiana center, starting a play that ended with Chalmers scoring at the other end to give Miami an 85-84 lead…

The Pacers were called for four technicals (one a defensive 3-second) in a 4-minute span of the second quarter.

Reported by Tim Reynolds of the Associated Press

According to ESPN.com, “James had two turnovers in the game’s final minute, which is extremely unusual for him.  This was the first postseason game in his career in which he had two turnovers in the game’s final 60 seconds.  In 125 previous playoff games, James had turned the ball over only seven times in the final minute of the fourth quarter or overtime.  Roy Hibbert was on the court when James drove into the lane and turned the ball over with eight seconds remaining. James has one basket and four turnovers on drives to the basket in which Hibbert is on the floor in these two games. When Hibbert is off the court, James has four baskets (on five shots) and no turnovers on drives to the hoop.  James finished with three assists and five turnovers. The last time he had more turnovers than assists in a game was March 27 against the Chicago Bulls, a 101-97 loss that snapped the Heat’s 27-game winning streak.”

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

Roy Hibbert

Indiana Pacers center Roy Hibbert is calling out Miami Heat forward Shane Battier for his dirty play.

Hibbert took exception to Battier’s shot to his groin area in the first half of Miami’s Game 1 victory Wednesday night.

“U can knee or kick me every time u drive 2the rim. I’ll be there 2protect the rim. That wasn’t inadvertent. Battier knew what he was doing,” Hibbert wrote on Twitter on this evening.

Reported by Mike Wells of the Indianapolis Star

Chris Andersen

The Heat’s record since Anderson came on board is an astounding 48-5. In the playoffs, a span of 10 games in which the Heat have lost just once, Anderson is 29-for-35 (82 percent) from the floor and averaging nearly eight points a game.

His line in Wednesday’s Eastern Conference finals Game 1 victory for the Heat: a perfect 7-for-7 shooting for a season-high 16 points in 18 minutes, along with five rebounds and five blocked shots.

“He’s playing as well as any center in the league,” Pacers coach Frank Vogel said.

The performance wasn’t lost on the Miami fans, who’ve quickly developed an affection for the high-impact reserve. He’s become so beloved in just half a season that when he was subbed out in overtime of Game 1 for Shane Battier, boos echoed throughout American Airlines Arena.

Reported by Zak Keefer of the Indianapolis Star

lebron james

The Indiana Pacers fell just short in the Eastern Conference finals opener but their gritty display pumped life into the NBA playoffs and let the defending champion Miami Heat know they have a battle on their hands.

The ease with which the top-seeded Heat have brushed aside opponents during the regular season and playoffs has given an air of inevitability to this year’s postseason, resulting in falling television ratings and plummeting interest.

But those hoping for tighter games with the chance of an upset would have been encouraged by the way the Pacers gave a timely warning to the Heat that they will need to draw on all their talent to reach a third straight final.

“It doesn’t matter if you win by one or if you win by 30 or whatever the case may be. You just want to win. We have to be better Friday if we want to win again,” LeBron James said after powering Miami to a 103-102 overtime victory on Wednesday.

Indiana have struggled on the road this year, losing 21 of 40 games in the regular season, but in a scrappy, foul-ridden game that came alive spectacularly in the closing stages, the Pacers showed their mettle.

Reported by Simon Evans of Reuters

tony parker

San Antonio Spurs point guard Tony Parker plans to have an MRI on Thursday on his troublesome left calf, although he doesn’t expect to miss any playing time in the Western Conference finals.

Parker says the MRI is ”just to make sure” he’s improving on schedule from the injury, which limited his effectiveness in the final two games of the Spurs’ second-round series against Golden State.

Parker had 15 points and a career-best 18 assists in San Antonio’s Game 2 win against Memphis on Tuesday night.

Reported by the Associated Press

Dwyane Wade

Dwyane Wade’s rookie season ended with a playoff loss to the Indiana Pacers. The next year, the Miami Heat were headed to the Eastern Conference finals and certain that an NBA championship was in their sights.

That’s when Wade learned a valuable lesson: Never take playoff chances for granted.

Wade hurt his rib cage on a simple crossover dribble during that 2005 East title series, and the Heat season ended with a Game 7 home loss to Detroit. He’s been to the East finals three times since, prevailing in them all, and on Wednesday will look to take a first step toward a fourth conference championship when the Heat play host to the Pacers in Game 1 of their playoff rematch from a year ago.

”I know I’m blessed to be going to the Eastern Conference finals for my fifth time,” Wade said. ”But I would like a lot more in my career. It’s a good thing. We’ve been very successful in my tenure here. But I want more.”

For Wade and Udonis Haslem, this marks five East finals appearances in nine years. For LeBron James, it’s a fifth trip to this round in the past seven years, now three straight with Miami after a pair of trips to the East finals with Cleveland. For Ray Allen, it’s a fourth East title-round trip in six years, the first three of those coming with Boston.

Experience, it all favors Miami.

For the Pacers, this is pretty much uncharted waters. Only one current Pacers player has ever appeared in a conference-final game, and that was backup big man Ian Mahinmi, who played exactly 71 seconds in one game of the 2011 West title series without so much as taking a shot. Nonetheless, the Pacers seem far from bothered by the fact that this stage is a new place for them.

– Reported by Tim Reynolds of 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

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