MEMPHIS, Tenn. â€” Memphis coach David Fizdale set the tone with his memorable rant about the officiating in Game 2, which led to a $30,000 fine by the NBA.
Then the Grizzlies matched his intensity on the court.
Mike Conley had 24 points and eight assists, helping the Grizzlies snap a 10-game post-season skid against the San Antonio Spurs with a 105-94 victory Thursday night.
Faced with the possibility of a daunting 3-0 deficit in its first-round playoff series, Memphis responded with a physical, rugged effort.
“I mean the Spurs were punking us. Let’s be real about it,” Fizdale said. “Those first, probably out of the eight quarters, they just bullied us for like five and a half of those, and you’re not going to beat the Spurs letting them dictate everything. So we had to match them, or otherwise we were going to get pummeled. And so I was just really proud of the way we stepped up and took the challenge.”
It was the Grizzlies’ first win over the Spurs in the playoffs since April 2011, when Memphis beat San Antonio in six games. It also was Fizdale’s first post-season victory as a head coach.
Game 4 is Saturday night.
“It wasn’t about the last two playoff series we’ve had against them,” Conley said. “It was about tonight and showing that we have heart and showing that we have enough in the tank to show that we can win and give ourselves confidence and allow us to believe that we can make this a series.”
Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph each scored 21 points for Memphis, which outscored San Antonio 31-17 in the third quarter and led by as much as 22 in the second half.
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said the game got away from San Antonio in the first minute of the third quarter.
“We turned it over twice to start the minute like we were out on a picnic some place,” Popovich said.
San Antonio star Kawhi Leonard, who scored 32 and 37 in the first two games, was held to 18 points. LaMarcus Aldridge had 16 and Kyle Anderson finished with 15 as Popovich pulled his starters quickly in the third quarter and benched them for most of the fourth.
“He wants us to understand what’s going on on the floor and how important the opportunity is for us,” Leonard said.
Memphis fans roared when Fizdale came onto the court before the game following his rant. And they stayed on their feet much of the night, funneling their frustration into yelling for the Grizzlies and against the officials.
The Spurs once again had a big edge at the line in the first half (10 of 15) compared to the Grizzlies, who took only four free throws the entire first half. The crew of James Capers, Courtney Kirkland and Pat Fraher whistled the Spurs for only one foul in the second quarter â€” with 10.9 seconds left.
But Randolph scored 11 points in the second quarter, and the Grizzlies carried a 50-46 lead into halftime. Then they really took control, opening the third by hitting 10 of their first 14 shots. They also played much better defence, harassing the Spurs into missing 11 of their first 17 in the quarter.
Spurs: Manu Ginobili became the first second-round draft pick to play 200 career playoff games. … The Spurs shot an NBA-best 87.7 per cent at the free-throw line through the first two playoff games. They finished 16 of 28 (57.1 per cent).
Grizzlies: Fizdale stuck with the lineup that worked in the second half of Game 2 when Memphis outscored San Antonio 45-40 despite losing. That led to another start for Randolph and James Ennis. It was just the sixth start for Randolph, who had 19 double-doubles off the bench during the regular season.
The Grizzlies took very good care of the ball, with only two turnovers through three quarters. The Spurs didn’t score off either of those, and Memphis finished with five. San Antonio turned it over 12 times, and Memphis converted those into 13 points.
PARKER SHUT DOWN
San Antonio guard Tony Parker was held scoreless on four shots. He also had a turnover in just under 19 minutes. He averaged 15 points through the first two games.
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Teresa M. Walker, The Associated Press