Quantcast 2011 NBA Western Conference Playoffs: Round One - San Antonio vs Memphis

 

2011 NBA Playoff Preview – Western Conference First Round

Western Conference First Round Game 3 - Memphis 91, San Antonio 88 – Grizzlies lead series, 2-1

 

If the San Antonio Spurs continue to play like a 40-win team and not a 61-win team, they’re going to meet the fate of a number eight seed in the first round of the playoffs. Their opponent isn’t playing like a top seed, but the Spurs look even less like a world-beater in the first few games of the second season. If they don’t fix their problems in short order, the Spurs will become just the third No. 1 seed to lose in the opening stage of pro basketball’s annual springtime bash.

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The Memphis Grizzlies came out blazing in their first home playoff game since 2006. Memphis built a double-digit first half lead and held off a late San Antonio rally to secure its first home playoff victory in franchise history. Zach Randolph had 25 points, including a clutch three-pointer on a broken possession with 41 seconds left to give the Grizzlies a 91-86 lead. San Antonio’s Manu Ginobilli hit two free-throws to cut the lead to three and the Spurs stopped the Grizzlies on the ensuing possession to give San Antonio a chance to tie the game as time expired. Strangely, trailing 91-88 and holding two timeouts, the veteran Spurs neither called for a stoppage of play nor got a shot off before time expired, and the eighth-seeded Grizzlies moved just two games away from completing the upset. A timeout is necessary in the pro game (as opposed to college basketball) because it offers an automatic advance of the ball to the front court. The fact that the veteran Spurs could not and did not call a timeout in such a situation is a reality that will haunt them all offseason if they lose this series, which is now a much more distinct possibility.

 

The Grizzlies’ eight-point lead early in the fourth quarter was trimmed by the Spurs and, for a time, eliminated at the 5:13 mark of the final stanza as a Ginobilli free throw knotted the score at 80. Credit the Grizzlies for responding well under pressure. Despite being out-rebounded all evening at FedEx Forum, Memphis’ defense was the difference yet again. The Spurs shot just 41 percent from the field, including a paltry 2-of-15 beyond the arc. Ginobilli led the Spurs with 23 points. Tim Duncan had 13 points, 11 rebounds, and 6 assists. However, San Antonio committed way too many unforced turnovers in this game, often when the top seed in the West was trying to make a concerted push in the second half. Tony Parker continued to be AWOL in this game, finding a few buckets here and there but never finding the sustained form the Spurs need from him.

Beyond Randolph’s heroics, center Marc Gasol and point guard Mike Conley had great outings for the Grizzlies. Gasol had 17 points and 9 rebounds while Conley had 14 points, 8 assists, and 6 rebounds.

 

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By: Matt Zemek
Pro Basketball Fans Staff Writer


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