Grizzlies rally to edge the short-handed Spurs
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Matching the most wins in franchise history was a nice moment for Memphis. The Grizzlies have their sights set on much, much more this season.
Mike Conley got Memphis to 50 wins by driving for a layup with 0.6 seconds left, and the Grizzlies rallied to beat the San Antonio Spurs 92-90 Monday night for their third straight victory.
The Grizzlies won 50 in a season for the first time since 2003-04, and they also won their 12th straight at home. They improved to 26 games above .500 in a game where Conley’s bucket gave them their first lead since 18-16 late in the first quarter.
“We have loftier goals,” Memphis coach Lionel Hollins said. “I’m proud of the players and the coaching staff and what we have accomplished, but I remember when the team got 50 before and we didn’t win another game.”
The Grizzlies lost their final four games in the 2003-04 season, then were swept in the playoffs — by the Spurs.
“Winning 50 is nice, but there is a lot more,” Hollins said.”
Conley scored the final five points and finished with 23. Jerryd Bayless had 17 points, Marc Gasol 16, Zach Randolph 11 points and 10 rebounds, and Tayshaun Prince had 11 points.
Tony Parker had 25 points for the Spurs. Parker tried to beat the buzzer with a jumper that was too late.
“They hit the biggest shot,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said of the Grizzlies.
Tiago Splitter added 13 points and 11 rebounds for San Antonio, which was not at full strength playing its second game in two nights. The Spurs left Kawhi Leonard and Tim Duncan at home with sore knees after both played in Sunday night’s 88-86 loss to Miami. Manu Ginobili is out at least three weeks with a strained right hamstring.
With the Spurs missing three of their top four scorers, Memphis managed to split the season series, with both teams winning on their home courts. The Grizzlies are pushing to start the postseason on their home court in a tight squeeze in the Western Conference standings with Denver and the Clippers.
“We want to keep pushing,” Randolph said. “We want to keep getting better ourselves, try to stay in third or the fourth spot and try to get home-court advantage. Try to get to that next level.”
Conley won the game but he also went without a steal. That snapped his steal streak at 64 games, which had been the longest active streak in the NBA. Conley wound up with his second game-winning bucket to pair with a layup over Shaquille O’Neal on Dec. 9, 2009, when he drove right for a layup to beat Cleveland in overtime 111-109.
“I’m happy with stealing the game, rather than the ball,” Conley said.
Popovich complimented Conley as someone who keeps improving each year.
“He is more confident,” Popovich said. “He has expanded his game. He did a great job.”
The Spurs now have had five straight games decided by a single possession, three of them losses. They also have lost consecutive games for the first time since Dec. 17 and 18.
“It’s good if we’re learning from it, and we’re going to use it to be smarter come playoff time,” Spurs forward Stephen Jackson said. “But, if we’re not learning from it, no. Hopefully, we’ll take all these experiences as we get ready to play postseason.”
The Grizzlies edged San Antonio in points in the paint 40-36 and outscored the Spurs 30-22 in the fourth quarter.
San Antonio opened the game missing its first eight shots. The Grizzlies jumped out to a nine-point lead before the Spurs suddenly started hitting. The Spurs connected on 13 of their next 17 shots and wound up leading by as much as nine themselves with a 44-37 lead at halftime. The Spurs went up by as much as 50-39 in the third quarter.
Conley scored 11 and Bayless eight in the fourth quarter in helping Memphis whittle away at the Spurs’ lead. The Grizzlies tied it up for the sixth and final time at 90 on a 3-pointer by Conley with 30 seconds left. Bayless said he tried to keep the play alive long enough to bait the Spurs into overloading on his side.
“Trying to keep on baiting them and baiting them, until finally I felt Mike could get enough time to get it off and he was able to get it off and he made the shot,” Bayless said.
Parker had a chance to put the Spurs ahead but missed a 14-footer with 7.9 seconds left on the possession before Conley’s game-winner.
“It’s always a great game against Memphis,” Parker said. “They’re one of the best teams in the NBA. They played good at the end and got the win. So we’ll have to regroup and stay together. It’s a tough stretch for us right now, but we have to keep plugging and keep improving.”
Conley’s winning bucket, as he drove past Danny Green, gave Memphis its first lead since 55 seconds left in the first quarter.
NOTES: Only Michael Jordan and Chris Paul have had steals streaks as long as Conley’s since the Grizzlies guard was born in October 1987. … Parker’s had double figures in 56 straight games. … The Spurs’ last four losses came when they didn’t score 100 points, and they average 104 points a game. … The Grizzlies now are 21-8 since trading for Prince, Ed Davis and Austin Daye on Jan. 30. … Memphis’ 12 straight home wins now is the second-longest home winning streak in franchise history. … The Spurs fell to 43-6 when leading after the third quarter. … Randolph had his 42nd double-double.