By Teresa M. Walker
The Associated Press
MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Tim Duncan scored the first five points of overtime, and the San Antonio Spurs rallied from an 18-point deficit to beat the Memphis Grizzlies 104-93 Saturday night and move a win away from the NBA Finals.
The Spurs grabbed a 3-0 lead in the Western Conference finals and now have won five straight this postseason. With the memory of blowing a 2-0 lead a year ago in the West finals to Oklahoma City, when they lost the next four, the Spurs shook off their sloppy play early and pushed the young Grizzlies to the edge of elimination in the first West final played in Memphis.
San Antonio, which didn’t lead this game until the opening minute of the fourth quarter, can wrap up the series Monday in Memphis and get back to the finals for the first time since their last title in 2007.
The Spurs hit eight of their 10 shots in overtime, with Duncan scoring seven of his 24 points. Tony Parker had five of his 26 in overtime, and even Tiago Splitter, playing with four fouls, scored six in the extra five minutes to finish with 11.
Mike Conley led Memphis with 20 points. Marc Gasol had 16 points and 14 rebounds, Zach Randolph added 14 and 15, and Quincy Pondexter had 15 points. But the Grizzlies, who thrived at the free throw line in knocking off No. 1 seed Oklahoma City in the semifinals, got there only 18 times and made only 10.
The Grizzlies last led 85-84 with 1:04 left in regulation on a 15-footer by Gasol. After that, they managed only to tie it up twice, the last on a layup by Randolph with 4:28 left in overtime. Duncan scored and knocked down the free throw with 4:10 remaining to put the Spurs ahead to stay.
The Spurs dominated the Grizzlies in the paint, outscoring Memphis 58-42 to offset their 17 turnovers, which the Grizzlies turned into 25 points.
Memphis, which had a lead for only 90 seconds in San Antonio, opened up with its trademark grit and grind defense, forcing eight turnovers in the first quarter to grab an 18-point lead. The Spurs quit turning the ball over and whittled away that lead to set up a doozy of a fourth quarter where the teams swapped the lead 11 times with 10 ties — all in the final 17 minutes.
With neither team leading by more than two in the final 8 minutes of regulation, fans stayed on their feet, holding their “Believe Memphis” towels trying to will the Grizzlies to yet another win.
Manu Ginobili scored seven points in the quarter, and he put the Spurs back up first with a layup with 1:19 left and then a pair of free throws with 54.5 seconds remaining. But Ginobili also picked up his fourth foul, giving Tony Allen a chance to split free throws and tie it up at 86 for the ninth time. Ginobili then missed a 3-pointer with 20.9 seconds left with Allen getting the rebound.
Memphis set up for the final shot, but Conley missed on a runner at the buzzer.
Memphis went up by as much as 18 and was up 29-13 at the end of the first quarter.