Tony Parker scored 30 points, Tim Duncan had 27 points and 15 rebounds, and the San Antonio Spurs shook off a ”disappointing” $250,000 fine by the NBA to beat the Memphis Grizzlies 99-95 in overtime Saturday night.
Coach Gregg Popovich said before the win he doesn’t know if the Spurs will appeal the NBA’s stiff penalty for sending Duncan, Parker and two others home to rest Thursday instead of them suiting up against the Miami Heat in a nationally televised game.
Popovich said he was disappointed by Commissioner David Stern’s decision. He also didn’t rule out sitting out players again in the future.
Marc Gasol led Memphis with 20 points. Zach Randolph had 17 points and 15 rebounds and was one of three Memphis players with double-doubles.
Mike Conley had 18 points and 12 assists, and Rudy Gay had 15 points and 10 rebounds.
The unprecedented fine announced Friday overshadowed the first meeting this season between two of the West’s winningest teams. Even Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban – who knows a thing or two about running afoul of Stern and getting hit in the checkbook – sounded off on the fine before his team’s own game Saturday night.
Cuban believes the NBA was right to sanction his top rivals for messing with the league’s ”money train” – meaning lucrative national television contracts. Yet he also called scheduling that marquee TNT game at the end of the Spurs’ six-game road swing a ”dumb” move on the NBA’s part.
Popovich wasn’t as outspoken. Succinctly addressing the fine before the game, he said the decision shows the NBA thinking about its bottom line and didn’t elaborate on conversations with the league before the penalty came down Friday.
”What I do from my perspective is from a coaching perspective,” Popovich said. ”And I think the league operates from a business perspective. And I think that’s reflective in the action that they took.”
That extra day of rest for Parker, Duncan and Manu Ginobili that cost the Spurs a quarter-million dollars appeared to do them some good.
Ginobili forced overtime with a corner 3-pointer with 57.9 seconds left, tying the game just nine minutes after Memphis led by 14 in the fourth quarter. Duncan had 21 points in the first half for the first time since 2004, and Parker eclipsed 30 points for the third time in five games.
San Antonio fans welcomed Popovich back with a thunderous ovation before the game. One fan behind the Grizzlies’ bench held up a sign reading ”Pop knows best.” Others wore shirts with more colorful language directed toward Stern.
The Grizzlies played without Tony Allen for a second straight game because of an injured groin. It’s unclear when their starting shooting guard may return.
Rather than play Duncan, Parker and Ginobili – three of the NBA’s biggest names – against LeBron James and Miami on Thursday night, Popovich put them and starter Danny Green on a plane and sent them home. It came at the end of a six-game road trip and after the Spurs had played five times in seven days.
Popovich justified his decision in Miami by saying he didn’t want to subject Green and his aging Big Three to so much wear-and-tear this early in the season.
Stern apologized to NBA fans before the Miami game and vowed his office would hand down ”substantial sanctions,” which he delivered on the next day. He said he ”concluded that the Spurs did a disservice to the league and our fans.”
Teams are required to report as soon as they know a player will not travel because of injury. The league’s statement said the Spurs were in violation of league policy reviewed with the board of governors in April 2010 against resting players in a manner ”contrary to the best interests of the NBA.”
The rest didn’t benefit everyone. Green was scoreless in 19 minutes before leaving with tightness in his left hamstring.
Notes: Popovich said it’s unlikely that starting F Kawhi Leonard (knee) will return on this weeklong homestand. Leonard has missed nine games. The Spurs hit the road again Dec. 8. … San Antonio beat the Grizzlies for the fifth straight time after sweeping them last season. Memphis hasn’t won against the Spurs since knocking them out of the playoffs in stunning fashion as the No. 8 seed in 2011.