Leonard scores playoff-high 37, Spurs take 2-0 lead over Grizzlies with 96-82 win

Spurs vs. Memphis Grizzlies

First-round playoff series
(Spurs lead 2-0)

Game 1: Spurs 111, Grizzlies 82, Saturday, AT&T Center
Game 2: Spurs 96, Grizzlies 82, Monday, AT&T Center
Game 3: Thursday, 8:30 p.m., Memphis
Game 4: Saturday, 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 – Kawhi Leonard just keeps raising the ante on himself.

Two days after tying his scoring playoff high, Leonard went off for 37 points as the Spurs beat the Memphis Grizzlies 96-82 Monday night and took a 2-0 lead in the first-round playoff series.

Leonard treated the sellout crowd at the AT&T Center, which chanted M-V-P, M-V-P every time he stepped up to the free-throw line – where he went a cool 19 for 19 – to another stellar performance.

“It’s not about me,” Leonard said. “I’m just happy that we got the win tonight. I mean, that’s what my job is, to go out there and try to get a win, and that’s what I did.”

Leonard hit 9 of 14 shots and finished with a game-high 11 rebounds. He matched his scoring playoff high in the series opener Saturday, finishing with 32 points to lead the Spurs to a 111-82 rout of the Grizzlies.

The series moves to Memphis for the next two games. Game 3 is set for 8:30 p.m. Thursday, with Game 4 tipping off at 7 p.m. Saturday.

While Leonard was the story on the court again Monday night, Memphis coach David Fizdale’s rant about the officiating drew a fair amount of media attention.

The victory was the Spurs’ 10th in a row over the Grizzlies in the postseason.

San Antonio won the game at the free-throw line, where it went 31 of 32 and got more than twice the attempts that Memphis did. The disparity was so great that Leonard went to the line four more times than the entire Grizzlies team, which sank 13 of 15 free throws. For the game.

Fizdale was fuming when he met with reporters after the game.

“It was a poorly officiated basketball game,” he said. “Zach Randolph, the most rugged guy in the game, has zero free throws, but somehow Kawhi Leonard has 19 free throws. In the first half, we shot 19 shots in the paint and we shot six free throws. They shot 11 times in the paint and had 23 free throws.

“I’m not a numbers guy, but that doesn’t seem to add up. Overall, 35 times we shot the ball in the paint and we had 15 free throws for the game. They shot 18 times in the paint and shot 32 free throws. Kawhi shot more free throws than our whole team. Explain it to me.”

Fizdale continued his tirade with more choice words for the game officials.

“We don’t get the respect that these guys deserve because (Grizzlies point guard ) Mike Conley doesn’t go crazy,” Fizdale said. “He has class and just plays the game. But I’m not going to let them treat us that way. Pop’s (Spurs coach Gregg Popovich) got pedigree and I’m a young rookie, but they are not going to rook us.

“That’s unacceptable, that’s unprofessional. My guys dug in that game and earned the right to be in that game, and they (officials) did not even give us a chance. Take that for data.”

Fizdale slammed the table in the interview room as he finished.

Trailing by 26 points with 2:34 left in the first half, the Grizzlies made a stand and mounted a rally that drew to them to within four in the fourth quarter. Memphis outscored the Spurs 45-40 in the second half.

“That second half showed our team just how hard we need to play, and what we need to see ourselves as,” Conley said. “To beat a team like the Spurs, you have to play consistent basketball like that for four quarters, and we haven’t done that.”

Officiating aside, the Spurs earned the victory by being aggressive. Point guard Tony Parker had another strong performance, scoring 15 points and hitting 3 of 5 attempts from beyond the arc. Danny Green (12), LaMarcus Aldridge (11) and Pau Gasol (10) rounded out the Silver and Black’s double-figure scoring.

Green got all his points on 3-pointers, hitting 4 of 5 attempts, and Gasol went 2 for 2 from long distance.

The Spurs outrebounded the Grizzlies again (39-35), and limited them to just six second-chance points.

Conley bounced back from a subpar performance in Game 1, leading Memphis with 24 points. He hit 8 of 18 shots, including 4 of 8 from the 3-point line, and dished out a game-high eight assists. Conley had only 13 points in the series opener, and went scoreless in the second half.

Center Marc Gasol scored only 12 points after finishing Game 1 with 32, when he had 25 in the first half. Gasol didn’t score his first point until he hit a free throw with 5:19 left in the first half.

San Antonio led 29-16 after one quarter and 56-37 at halftime. Memphis outscored the Spurs 28-19 in the third period to cut the deficit to 10 (75-65) after three quarters.

The Grizzlies drew to within four points, 75-71, and were behind 80-75 before the Silver and Black slammed the door shut on their rally with a 10-0 run that made it 90-75 with 3:20 left.

Green got the run started with a 3-pointer at the 6:28 mark, and followed that with a blocked shot that Leonard turned into a layup with six minutes left. Green made another big play when he came with a rebound that led to Pau Gasol hitting a 3-pointer to give the Silver and Black an 88-75 lead with 4:56 remaining.

“I always enjoy the ‘How important was it?’” Popovich said. “Very. Exceedingly. It was a nine on a 10 scale. I mean, of course, every time you make a three and it’s a tight game, it’s important.”

Memphis played its second game of the series without defensive leader Tony Allen, who is sidelined with a strained right calf.

Here is a quarter-by-quarter breakdown of Monday night's Gtrizzlies-Spurs game:

Final: Spurs 96, Grizzlies 82. The Silver and Black take a 2-0 lead in the first-round playoff series. Game 3 is at 8:30 p.m. Thursday in Memphis. 

Fourth quarter (4:56): Spurs 88, Grizzlies 75. The Silver and Black are on an 8-0 run after Memphis closed the gap to 80-75. Danny Green and Pau Gasol each hit 3-pointers. The other basket was scored by Kawhi Leonard on a layup.

Fourth quarter (6:42): Spurs 80, Grizzlies 75. Tony Parker hits a 3-pointer to give the Silver and Black an 80-71 lead, but Vince Carter and Zach Randolph score on Memphis' next two possessions to cut the deficit to five. 

Fourth quarter (8:28): Spurs 77, Grizzlies 71. Kawhi Leonard (29 points) hits a jumper to give the Silver and Black a little breathing room. Memphis has outscored San Antonio 41-21 since trailing 56-30 with 2:24 left in the first half.

End of third quarter: Spurs 75, Grizzlies 65. Memphis outscored San Antonio 28-19 in the third period. Kawhi Leonard leads all scorers with 27 points. 

Third quarter (2:42): Spurs 70, Grizzlies 58. Memphis has outscored San Antonio 28-14 since the Silver and Black led 56-30 with 2:24 left in the first half. The Grizzlies have outscored the Spurs 21-14 in the third quarter. 

Third quarter (6:08): Spurs 61, Grizzlies 50. Memphis has outscored the Silver and Black 20-5 since they trailed 56-30 with 2:24 left in the first half.

Halftime: Spurs 56, Grizzlies 37

First-half notes: Memphis has one less point at the half than Marc Gasol and Mike Conley had in the first two quarters in Game 1. Gasol (25) and Conley (13) combined for 38 points in the first half of the series opener . . . Kawhi Leonard led the Spurs in the first half with 18 points on 4-of-7 shooting. He also was 10 of the 10 at the free-throw line. LaMarcus Aldridge and Tony Parker finished the half with 11 points, respectively . . . Conley led the Grizzlies with 14 points and Zach Randolph had 10. Gasol didn't score until he hit a free throw with 5:19 left, when the Spurs were whistled for a tech (defensive three seconds). Gasol had only three points in the half . . . The big difference has been at the free-throw line, where the Silver and Black are 22 of 23 and have 17 more attempts than Memphis (5/6) . . . The Spurs shot 44.1 percent overall (15/34) and 36.4 percent (4/11) from the 3-point line. The Grizzlies shot 33.3 percent (15/45) and was 15.4 percent (2/13) from long distance . . . The Spurs led 29-16 after one quarter and outscored Memphis 27-21 in the second. 

Second quarter (4:00): Spurs 52, Grizzlies 28. Memphis center Marc Gasol, who scored 25 points in the first half of Game 1, didn't get his first point in Game 2 until he hit a free throw on a tech. Gasol has three points. Kawhi Leonard leads the Silver and Black with 14 points, followed by LaMarcus Aldridge (11) and Tony Parker (10). 

Second quarter (7:48): Spurs 42, Grizzlies 23. Memphis veteran Vince Carter was slapped with a tech after getting in Kyle Anderson's face as they ran up the court. 

Second quarter (9:37): Spurs 37, Grizzlies 20. Tony Parker has hit back-to-back 3-pointers from the corner. Parker has scored 10 points. 

End of first quarter: Spurs 29, Grizzlies 16. Kawhi Leonard leads the Silver and Black with 10 points. Mike Conley has eight points for Memphis. The Spurs shot 44.4 percent overall (8/18) and 20 percent (1/5) from the 3-point line. Danny Green has San Antonio's only 3-pointer. Grizzlies shot 24.0 percent overall (6/25) and 12.5 percent I(1/8) from beyond the arc. 

First quarter (5:02): Spurs 20, Grizzlies 14. Danny Green nails a 3-pointer to put the Silver and Black up 20-12. Zach Randolph scores on a jumper for Memphis.

First quarter (6:22): Spurs 17, Grizzlies 10. Kawhi Leonard leads the Silver and Black with six points.

SPURS-GRIZZLIES, GAME 2: Silver and Black braced for counterpunch

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, 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 – Gregg Popovich has said it many times throughout his long career as the Spurs’ head coach: It’s easier for a team to bounce back from a loss than it is to maintain momentum after a victory.

If that’s true, the Memphis Grizzlies, dismantled in a 111-82 loss to the Silver and Black in their first-round playoff series opener Saturday night, could have the psychological edge heading into Game 2.

“The next one is very dangerous because everything went so well (in Game 1),” Spurs guard Manu Ginobili said. “We beat them by 30. We didn’t turn the ball over. We controlled the rebounds. So we know they are going to come at us very hard because they know they need to win."

“Hopefully, we are smart enough and experienced enough to be mentally ready and not take anything for granted. That’s the biggest danger.”

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

While Popovich acknowledged the Spurs could have a letdown, he quickly downplayed that possibility.

“That could happen, but I doubt it,” Popovich said. “If we win a game or lose a game, it won’t be because we took it for granted. It’s the same with Memphis. We’re both good, solid teams that are going to come to play every night. It’s got nothing to do with not being ready, or not being motivated or not working hard. That’s all silly.”

Spurs guard Patty Mills talked about the importance of playing with “appropriate fear.” Like Popovich, he alluded to how the losing team has more motivation in a rematch.

“It’s not as easy as it seems, I guess, to be able to rebound from a win as a loss,” Mills said after Monday’s morning shootaround. “You kind of throw everything out there and leave everything on the line regardless. We need to come with appropriate fear again."

“We’ve got to think it’s a 0-0 mentality to be able to be able to compete against a very good Memphis team. It’s right back to the drawing boards and to zero, pretty much, on how we attack them in tonight’s game."

Memphis jumped on the Spurs early in Game 1, leading by 13 points in the first quarter before the Silver and Black fought back to trail by only five at the end of the period. Ahead 52-49 at halftime, the Silver and Black were up 74-64 with 1:53 left in the third quarter when they blew the game open with a 19-0 run that gave them a 93-64 lead with 8:50 remaining.

It was a stunning reversal for the Grizzlies, who were outscored 32-15 in the pivotal third period and 59-33 in the second half.

Memphis center Marc Gasol, the younger brother of Spurs center Pau Gasol, led the Grizzlies with 32 points, but he scored only seven in the second half. Point guard Mike Conley finished with 13 points after scoring 10 in the first quarter, and didn’t have a point in the second half.

So how does Mills think Conley, one of the best point guards in the NBA, will play in Game 2?

“More aggressiveness, getting to the paint, looking for his shot,” Mills said. “There were times where we thought we let him get away last game. But for the most part, it was a team job trying to contain him. He’s going to come out even stronger and even more aggressive, and do what he does.”

Mills said he expects the Grizzlies to be more physical and more “locked in” defensively Monday night.

“I thought, offensively, we loosened their defense up a lot,” Mills said. “We expect them to be even tighter with their defensive game plan, and be more physical and try to wear us out physically more than anything."

“They’re already a physical team. That’s the way that they like to play. We’re expecting harder hits when you cut through the lane, harder screens, and trying to wear us out that way.”

Marc Gasol appeared to be on his way to eclipsing his playoff scoring high of 42 points before the roof caved in on the Grizzlies in the third quarter. Gasol hit 11 of 18 shots, including all three of his 3-point attempts, and went 7 for 7 at the free-throw line. With Memphis so far behind, Fizdale sat Gasol for the entire fourth quarter.

The job of playing defense against Gasol fell on LaMarcus Aldridge, who finished with 20 points himself. The back-and-forth for position was a physical exercise that exasperated both players at times.

“I mean, it’s a physical team,” Aldridge said. “It’s not my first time playing against these guys. You know you’re going to be in for a dogfight. Have to grind it out. I’m fine. It’s going to be even more physical next game, for sure.”

The Spurs won the rebounding battle 43-35 in Game 1, and limited the Grizzlies to only five second-chance points.

“They’re a great offensive rebounding team,” Popovich said. “It has to be a priority to try to limit them as much as we can. They’re very, very good at it.”

Duncan makes preseason debut: Tim Duncan made his first postseason appearance at the Spurs’ shootaround Monday morning at the team’s practice facility. Looking fit and trim, Duncan worked out and shot around with assistant coach Monty Williams. Of course, he also caught with his former teammates. 

“He’s just here to make fun of everyone,” Mills said. “He rubs it in. He looks all nice and relaxed over there, and we are stressing out about the game plan.”

Manu OK: Ginobili, who took an inadvertent elbow from Grizzlies forward Zach Randolph late in the first half of Game 1, had a little bit of a shiner around his right eye at practice Sunday. 

Ginobili, 39, smiled when he was asked about it. 

“It’s just make up,” he said. “I’m approaching 40. No, it’s fine. It hurt because there’s a little scratch inside the eye, but not a big deal.” 

Ginobili left the game after taking the elbow from Randolph, but returned to the court in the third quarter. He was scoreless in 14 minutes, breaking a streak of 193 playoff games in which he scored at least one point.

© 2017 KENS-TV


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