Kawhi Leonard scored 20 points and LaMarcus Aldridge added 17
points as the San Antonio Spurs dominated the middle two quarters
and romped past the Memphis Grizzlies 106-74 Sunday in Game 1 of the
two teams' Western Conference quarterfinal playoff series.
San Antonio outscored the Grizzlies 24-6 over the final 8:04 of the
third period, turning a contentious game into a runaway, and led
81-51 with a quarter to play. The fourth quarter was left to mostly
the reserves, with Game 2 in the series to be played Tuesday in San
Antonio with 8:30 p.m. CDT tipoff.
"It just takes a little while," said the Spurs' Tim Duncan, who had
seven points and 11 rebounds. "Once we got it going, then some shots
started falling. That's when we were able to extend the lead.
Defensively, we were pretty solid the whole way through."
Tony Parker and Patty Mills scored 15 points each for the Spurs and
Kevin Martin added 10 points, all in the fourth quarter. San Antonio
hit on 42 of its 81 shots (52 percent), outrebounded the Grizzlies
44-35 and had nine blocked shots to Memphis' three.
Vince Carter led the Grizzlies with 16 points while Lance Stephenson
hit for 14 points, all but two in the second half. Memphis, which
has now lost all five games it played against the Spurs this season,
was held to a season low in points, shot just 39 percent and went to
the free-throw line only six times.
"Defense is the focus of our program and I thought in the second
half we did that pretty good," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. "Our
offense really bogged down in the first half -- we didn't move the
ball and it was a lot of one on one.
"Against the Grizzlies, who are tough, physical and aggressive, the
ball has to move other than dribble," Popovich added. "It's got to
be passed and people have to move."
Both teams played a ragged first quarter as there were nearly as
many bodies pushed to the floor as baskets made while each squad
tried to establish a physical presence. The Spurs led 22-13 after 12
minutes of play despite shooting just 35 percent from the floor.
Memphis hit on just 5 of its 22 field-goal attempts with the ageless
Carter, making just his fourth start of the season, scoring the
Grizzlies' first seven points.
Two baskets by Carter cut the
Spurs' lead to 26-22 four minutes into the second quarter and gave
the Grizzlies some momentum. But a Leonard steal and dunk followed
by another dunk by Leonard off an assist by Mills on the ensuing
possession propelled San Antonio on a 7-2 run and created some
breathing room at 33-24.
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Parker reeled off five straight points on back-to-back drives and a
free throw in the final minute of the quarter to push the Spurs'
lead to 48-37 at halftime. Aldridge had 13 points in the half and
Leonard added 12 for the Spurs while Carter led the Grizzlies with
11 points in 12 minutes of court time.
"When you are turning the ball over and not getting shots, a
five-point lead can turn into a 20-point lead in the blink of an
eye," Carter said. "That's what happened tonight, and it rattled us
a little bit. San Antonio takes pride in the way they close out
quarters -- you are aware of what they are going to try to do when
you play against them -- and that was the difference."
The Spurs rolled out to a 61-45 lead five minutes into the third
quarter behind Duncan, who roared through the lane for a left-handed
finger roll and then took the ball away from Zach Randolph at the
defensive end, starting a fast break that resulted in a driving
layup for Parker.
Duncan's play on both ends of the floor seemed to lift the Spurs,
who found another gear over the second half of the third quarter and
kept their foot on the accelerator.
"We have got to close quarters better," Memphis coach David Joerger
said. "San Antonio went 10-2 at the end of the first quarter, 9-0 at
the end of the second and 24-6 at the end of the third to go up 30
(points). San Antonio executed well offensively and our lack of
offensive execution hurt our defense. We get mixed up, jumbled up
and don't get back very well in transition. Those are things
hopefully we will get better at."
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