MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) The Memphis Grizzlies are back to relying on their defense, and the result is a four-game winning streak.
That’s quite a turnaround from the five-game skid that opened the month.
Mike Conley had 19 points, seven rebounds and six assists, Zach Randolph added 18 points and the Grizzlies extended their recent success with a 104-96 victory over the San Antonio Spurs on Saturday night.
”We’re playing with a sense of urgency defensively that we haven’t played with all season long,” Conley said. ”It’s almost as if we turned the switch on to playoff basketball.”
The defense forced 15 turnovers and held San Antonio to 44 percent shooting. The Spurs, who entered leading the NBA in 3-point shooting at almost 40 percent, finished 9 of 28 from long range.
San Antonio, which briefly held the top spot in the Western Conference recently, lost its second straight.
”To beat a team of that caliber right now is a great win for us,” Grizzlies coach David Fizdale said.
Memphis held an 89-86 lead with 5:45 left, then went on a 9-1 rally to match its biggest advantage of the game at 98-87 on a three-point play by Marc Gasol with 2:30 left.
Not long afterward, Spurs coach Gregg Popovich sent his reserves in.
”We made too many mistakes to win the basketball game,” Popovich said.
”It was definitely not our best performance,” said Spurs guard Tony Parker, who had four points after missing four games with a stiff back.
Gasol had 16 points and seven assists for Memphis, while JaMychal Green scored 13. The Grizzlies shot 42 percent, but converted 13 of 30 from outside the arc.
”Even though we were not making many shots,” Gasol said, ”we were so unselfish defensively and so connected that it carried on into our offense.”
Kawhi Leonard led the Spurs with 22 points, and LaMarcus Aldridge had 21 points and nine rebounds. Jonathon Simmons scored 14 for San Antonio.
Memphis took a 75-73 lead into the final period after the first three quarters featured six ties and 15 lead changes. The Grizzlies pushed their advantage to nine on a couple of occasions early in the fourth, but San Antonio stayed close with 3-pointers from Simmons, Leonard and Davis Bertans.
Memphis started its final spurt with three free throws from Conley, who then made a 3 with about four minutes left.
Spurs: Dejounte Murray sat out with a left groin injury. … San Antonio missed its first nine shots from outside the arc before Patty Mills hit a 3 to open the second quarter. … San Antonio connected on its first 16 free throws before Leonard was off target in the fourth quarter, the team’s only miss of the game. . It was Leonard’s 51st game this season with at least 20 points.
Grizzlies: Memphis signed G/F Wayne Selden to fill the void left by F Chandler Parsons’ left knee injury. Selden, a member of the team’s training camp roster, was averaging 18.5 points per game with the Iowa Energy of the D-League. … F Vince Carter played in his 1,336th regular-season game, passing Gary Payton for 14th on the career list. … Memphis defeated San Antonio 89-74 in their first matchup this season on Feb. 6. … Memphis had 20 assists and 10 turnovers, the 46th straight game in which the Grizzlies had more assists than turnovers.
The Gasol Brothers – Marc with the Grizzlies, and Pau, who started his career with the Grizzlies and now plays for San Antonio – faced each other for the 22nd time in a regular-season game. But they didn’t square off for the opening tap as they did at the 2015 All-Star Game. Pau Gasol came off the Spurs’ bench Saturday and scored eight points.
Spurs: Host the Sacramento Kings on Sunday.
Grizzlies: Start a four-game road trip Tuesday in New Orleans.