Leonard ties playoff high with 32 points, Spurs rout Grizzlies 111-82 in Game 1

Spurs vs. Memphis Grizzlies
First-round playoff series
(Spurs lead 1-0)

Game 1: Spurs 111, Grizzlies 82, Saturday, AT&T Center
Game 2: Monday, 8:30 p.m., AT&T Center
Game 3: Thursday, 8:30 p.m., Memphis
Game 4: Saturday, April 22, 7 p.m., Memphis
Game 5: Tuesday, April 25 (time TBD), AT&T Center*
Game 6: Thursday, April 27 (time TBD), Memphis*
Game 7: Saturday, April 29 (time TBD), AT&T Center*
*if necessary

SAN ANTONIO – All-Star forward Kawhi Leonard and the Spurs opened the playoffs in resounding fashion Saturday night at the AT&T Center.

Ahead by only three points at halftime, the Silver and Black took command in the third quarter and rolled to a 111-82 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies in Game 1 of their first-round playoff series. 

Game 2 is at 8:30 p.m. Monday at the AT&T Center.

Leonard scored 15 of his 32 points in the third period, when the Spurs outscored Memphis 32-15 to take an 84-64 lead into the final quarter. Leading 74-64 with 1:53 left in the third period, the Silver and Black went on a 19-0 that put them up 93-64 with 8:50 remaining. The Grizzlies missed nine shots and had three turnovers during that span.

Leonard’s 32 points matches his career playoff high. He hit 11 of 14 shots, including a 3-pointer, and was 9 of 9 from the free-throw line.

"Obviously, we wanted to win a game," Leonard said. "We are on our home floor and we went down early, but we stayed in it. We got physical and got some stops, and we got rolling from there."

LaMarcus Aldridge (20) and Tony Parker (18) rounded out the Spurs’ double-figure scoring. The Silver and Black shot 53.2 percent (41/77) for the game and were 53.6 percent (10/19) from the 3-point line.

Danny Green scored only two points, but he was outstanding on defense. He blocked four shots and had a steal while helping lock down Memphis point guard Mike Conley, who scored 10 points in the first quarter but finished with only 13 for the game. He had three points in the second period and went scoreless in the second half.

Parker started out guarding Conley, but Green tormented him for most of the game.

"He's a fine player and he's way underrated," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said of Green. "He can do so many things and he's smart on top of all that." 

The second half was a stunning reversal for the Grizzlies, who led by 13 points in the first quarter and trailed only 52-49 at intermission. Outscored 59-33 in the second half,  they shot 30 percent overall (12/39) and 18.2 percent from beyond the arc (2/11) in the final two quarters. Memphis fell behind by 36 points in losing its ninth consecutive playoff game to the Spurs.  

"They just got after us," Memphis coach David Fizdale said. "They upped their pressure. They really turned the game around defensively against us. They forced us into tough situations in that third quarter, and they got out running. They broke the game open in that third quarter.":

Led by center Marc Gasol and Conley, the Grizzlies put the Silver and Black on their heels early. Gasol, the younger brother of Spurs center Pau Gasol, scored 11 of his 32 points in the first quarter. 

Popovich immediately called a 20-second timeout after a Vince Carter dunk put the Grizzlies up 22-9 with 5:15 left in the first quarter, but the Grizzlies continued to lead by 11 to 13 points until the Spurs caught fire in the last 2.5 minutes of the opening period. 

Sparked by a pair of three-pointers by Pau Gasol and Patty Mills, the Silver and Black went on a 10-0 run that whittled the Grizzlies' lead to 28-25 with 21.7 seconds left. Conley snuck in a layup to make it 30-25, Memphis, after one quarter.  

Conley hit 5 of 14 shots and dished out seven assists, but he struggled to find the basket after the first quarter. 

"We have to get Mike going," Fizdale said. "Without Mike having a big series, this won't be much of a series. We understand that."

The Grizzlies were scorching hot in the first period, shooting 68.4 percent overall (13/19) and 66.7 percent (4/6) from the 3-point line. The Spurs also found their range, hitting 11 of 20 attempts from the field for 55 percent and 3 of 6 shots from beyond the arc.

Memphis shot 39.2 percent overall (31/79) and 35 percent (7/20) from 3-point range.

"The best part was the team keeping their composure, not going off in different directions, and just trying to do what we planned to do execution-wise at both ends," Popovich said. "I thought we got better as the game went on."

Parker had a solid performance, hitting 8 of 13 shots, including 2 of 2 from 3-point range, and finishing the game without a turnover.

"He's gotten back in shape, as we said over the last couple of weeks," Popovich said. "He's done a great job in the weight room and on the court  just trying to get his wind back. I thought he felt pretty confident tonight, and we love when he starts out defensively and taking pride in that."

Parker has been hampered by a string of nagging injuries this season, his 16th with the Spurs. 

"I just had some opportunities, just being aggressive," Parker said of his Game 1 performance. "It was just one of those games. It happens sometimes. The last three or four games I've felt good, felt in rhythm. I just don't like to talk about it because then something is going to happen. 

"It's been like that this season for me. Every time I've felt great, I get little things, nothing bad, but just nagging stuff. Hopefully, you can leave me along and I'll try to keep playing like that."

Marc Gasol had only seven points in the second half after leading all scorers with 25 in the first two quarters. He made 11 of 18 shots and was 3 for 3 from beyond the arc. He also was 7 of 7 from the free-throw line.

The Grizzlies played without guard/forward Tony Allen, sidelined with a strained right calf. The best defender on the Memphis roster, Allen is unlikely to play against the Spurs.

The Spurs scored 100 points against the Grizzlies for the first time this season. The teams split their four regular-season meetings.

Here is a quarter-by-quarter breakdown of Saturday night's Grizzlies-Spurs game:

Final: Spurs 111, Grizzlies 82. The Silver and Black take 1-0 lead in first-round playoff series. Game 2 is at 8:30 p.m. Monday at the AT&T Center.

Fourth quarter (5:38): Spurs 100, Grizzlies 68. Davis Bertans nails a 3-pointer to put the Silver and Black up by 32. This is the first time this season the Spurs have reached the century mark against Memphis.

Fourth quarter (8:50): Spurs 93, Grizzlies 64. The Silver and Black are on a 19-0 run. 

End of third quarter: Spurs 84, Grizzlies 64. Kawhi Leonard scored 15 of his 32 points in the third period. His 32 points matches his playoff high. Memphis shot 29.4 percent in the third quarter and was outrebounded 16-4. The Spurs outscored the Grizzlies 32-15 in the quarter. 

Third quarter (1:00): Spurs 79, Grizzlies 64. Patty Mills buries a 3-pointer to give the Silver and Black their  biggest lead of the game. 

Third quarter (6:02): Spurs 64, Grizzlies 55. Kawhi Leonard scores in the paint to give the Silver and Black their biggest lead. Leonard has scored 21 points.

Third quarter (9:18): Spurs 56, Grizzlies 53. Marc Gasol has 27 points for Memphis.

Halftime: Spurs 52, Grizzlies 49

First-half notes: Memphis center Marc Gasol was the story of the first half. He scored 25 points on 9-of-13 shooting, including 2 of 2 from the 3-point line. He also was 5 of 5 from the free-throw line. Mike Conley finished the half with 13 points . . . Kawhi Leonard led the Spurs with 17 points on 7-of-9 shooting. Tony Parker and LaMarcus Aldridge scored 12 and 10 points, respectively . . . Memphis shot 47.5 percent overall (19/40) and 55.6 percent (5/9) from the 3-point line . . . The Spurs were 48.9 percent overall (22/45) and 60 percent (6/10) from beyond the arc . . . Parker and Pau Gasol were both 2 for 2 from the 3-point line.  

Second quarter (4:32): Spurs 41, Grizzlies 38. Tony Parker hits a 3-pointer from the corner to put the Silver and Black up by three. Timeout Memphis. The Spurs had tied the score at 38 on a dunk by LaMarcus Aldridge. Assist by Kawhi Leonard.

Second quarter (6:20): Grizzlies 38, Spurs 34. Marc Gasol, who has scored 16 points, hits a turnaround jumper to put Memphis up  by four.

Second quarter (8:05): Grizzlies 36, Spurs 34. Marc Gasol completes a three-point play to put Memphis back on top. Tony Parker hit a 3-pointer to give the Silver and Black their first lead (32-31). Mike Conley came back and scored on drive to put the Grizzlies up 33-32, but Parker responded with another basket to give the Spurs a one-point lead. 

End of first quarter: Grizzlies 30, Spurs 25. Kawhi Leonard scored 11 points to lead the Silver and Black. The Spurs ended the period with a 10-2 run. The Grizzlies led by as many as 13 points in the opening quarter. 

First quarter (0:57): Grizzlies 28, Spurs 23. Silver and Black on 8-0 run. 

First quarter (2:40): Grizzlies 25, Spurs 15. Kawhi Leonard leads the Silver and Black with nine points. 

First quarter (8:32): Grizzlies 12, Spurs 5. Marc Gasol (7) and Mike Conley (5) have scored all of Memphis' points so far. They each have a 3-pointer. The Silver and Black are having problems with their ball movement.

SPURS-GRIZZLIES, GAME 1: Gasol brothers meeting in playoffs for first time

Spurs vs. Memphis Grizzlies
First-round playoff series schedule

Game 1: Saturday, 7 p.m., AT&T Center
Game 2: Monday, 8:30 p.m., AT&T Center
Game 3: Thursday, 8:30 p.m., Memphis
Game 4: Saturday, April 22, 7 p.m., Memphis
Game 5: Tuesday, April 25 (time TBD), AT&T Center*
Game 6: Thursday, April 27 (time TBD), Memphis*
Game 7: Saturday, April 29 (time TBD), AT&T Center*
*if necessary

SAN ANTONIO – Every NBA playoff series comes with its unique set of storylines that add depth and breadth to the matchup.

One of the more compelling ones in the Spurs’ first-round series against the Memphis Grizzlies, which tips off at 7 p.m. Saturday at the AT&T Center. This will be the clash between brothers Pau and Marc Gasol,

The playoff opener will mark the first time the seven-foot centers – Pau plays for the Spurs and Marc for the Grizzlies – have faced off in the postseason during their stellar NBA careers.

For his part, Pau said it will be a “little bit awkward” going against his younger brother in the playoffs, although they’ve mixed it up numerous times during the regular season.

“It is what it is,” Pau said after Friday’s Spurs workout. “At the end of the day the key thing is to keep things in perspective and try to keep emotions out of it and just compete and do whatever it takes to win. That’s what I’ll do, and I’m sure that’s what he’ll do, and we’ll go from there.”

Both born in Barcelona, Spain, Pau and Marc are 36 and 32, respectively. Their close relationship as kids has carried over to their adult lives. They keep in touch by phone regularly, although Pau admitted things have been a little different this week.

“We might not be as loose as we are during the season with eachother.” Pau said. “We’ll see. We haven’t really talked too much about it.”

The Gasols will be the sixth set of brothers to face each other in the NBA playoffs. George and Ed Mikan (1949, 1950, 1953) were the first siblings to square off, followed by Bernard and Albert King (1983), Chuck and Wesley Person (1996), Horace and Harvey Grant (1999), and Dorell and Delon Wright (2016).

While the Gasols always have enjoyed the give-and-take on the basketball court, dating back to the days when they played one-on-one games as kids, their parents, Marisa and Agusti Gasol, never have enjoyed watching them compete against each other.

“It’s not fun for them,” Pau said. “They’ve always been proud to have two brothers at this level, but they don’t enjoy the games we play against each other too much because they suffer. They don’t want us to get hurt. One (of the sons) is going to be happy after the game. One is going to be upset.

“So you feel for the one that’s upset. Now in the playoffs, everything gets a little bit magnified. We’ll just do our best, as we always have, and be who we are.”

The sibling rivalry wasn’t confined to just the basketball court when Pau and Marc were growing up.

“We were very competitive, always, at anything we did,” Pau said.

A six-time All-Star, Pau is in his first season with the Spurs and 16th in the NBA. He started his NBA career with Memphis in 2001, and played for the Grizzlies until getting traded to the Los Angeles Lakers in February 2008.

Marc, who was selected by the Lakers in the second round of the 2007 draft but never played for the franchise, was part of the multi-player deal that sent Pau to L.A. Pau won league titles with the with the Lakers in 2009 and 2010, and is making his 11th playoff run.

Pau signed with Chicago as a free agent in July 2014, and took the same route with the Spurs last July after playing two seasons with the Bulls. He began the season as the Silver and Black’s starting center but has come off the bench since Feb. 24, when he returned from a broken left hand that sidelined him for 15 games.

Pau averaged 12.4 points, 7.8 rebounds and 2.3 assists during the regular season. He also has become a threat as a 3-point shooter, hitting 53.8 percent (56/104) of his attempts.

“Organically, he just ended up in those positions on the court,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. “He was free, took the shot. He’s making them. His confidence grew, so he just did it more and more. It wasn’t like we sat down one day and said, ‘We’re going to have him shoot more threes.’ It happened organically.”

Marc has played his entire nine-year career with Memphis, and is preparing for his sixth playoff run with the Grizzlies. Memphis has made the playoffs seven times during Marc’s tenure with the team, but he missed the postseason last year after having foot surgery in February.

Marc made a strong return this season, averaging a career-high 19.5 points and making the All-Star Game for the third time. He also averaged 6.2 rebounds and a career-high 4.6 assists.

One of Marc’s biggest fans is his older brother.

“Amazing, amazing,” Pau said, noting Marc’s steady improvement through the years. “As a big brother, I couldn’t be more proud of my brother. To see him grow and work so hard from where he was and where’s at, he’s earned every bit of credit that he’s gotten. He’s turned out to be an incredible player, one of the top players in the league.”

Although blood is thicker than water, Pau left no doubt about his mindset going into Saturday night’s game.

“I’m just focused on putting all those emotions aside and trying to focus on what the Spurs have to do to beat the Grizzlies,” Pau said.

Pau described Marc as the “quarterback” of the Memphis offense.

“He’s an incredible facilitator, playmaker,” Pau said. “He’s not a guy that feels comfortable taking 20-plus shots, even if he could. He tries to get players involved and make the right play every possession, so you’ve got to put pressure on him, force him into drives, force him into forcing plays and not be comfortable playmaking.”

Series notes: Memphis guard Tony Allen, out indefinitely with a strained right calf, will be another interesting storyline in the series. The Grizzlies’ top perimeter, Allen is unlikely to play against the Spurs, ESPN’s Tim MacMahon reported Thursday. Even with Allen out, Popovich figures Memphis’ defense will be tough to crack. “He’s a solid defender, but people step up,” Popovich said of Allen. “Take one player away and somebody else comes that has other skills and improves you in a different way. They’ll figure it out.” Spurs guard Manu Ginobili had a different take on Allen being out. “Tony Allen is their beast, their defensive anchor,” Ginobili said. “He’s their best defensive player. He creates a lot of turnovers and deflections. He’s very active. For sure, they’re going to miss him.” Ginobili paused before adding: “And we’ve got to help them miss him.” . . . The Spurs are 3-1 against Memphis in playoff series, recording sweeps every time they’ve eliminated the Grizzlies. The eighth-seeded Grizzlies upset the top-seeded Silver and Black in the first round in 2011, ending the series in six games. But the Spurs turned the tables two years later, crushing Memphis in the 2013 Western Conference finals.

Spurs-Grizzlies 2016-17 season series (2-2 tie)

Grizzlies 89, Spurs 74, Feb. 6, Memphis
Grizzlies 104, Spurs 96, March 18, Memphis
Spurs 97, Grizzlies 90, March 23, San Antonio
Spurs 95, Grizzlies 89, OT, April 4, San Antonio 

Spurs-Grizzlies playoff history (Spurs lead 3-1)

2004: Spurs won first-round series 4-0
2011: Grizzlies won first-round series 4-2
2013: Spurs won conference finals series 4-0
2016: Spurs won first-round series 4-0

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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