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Spurs take commanding 3-0 lead over Grizzlies with overtime win in Game 3

May 26, 2013, 12:58 AM EDT

San Antonio Spurs v Memphis Grizzlies - Game Three Getty Images

The Grizzlies had been here before.

After falling behind two games to none in the first round of the playoffs against the Clippers, first by losing big in Game 1 and then by losing at the buzzer in Game 2, Memphis learned what it would take to crawl out of that hole and make the necessary adjustments by reclaiming its strength in the next two games of the series via home court advantage.

To open Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals facing a similar 2-0 deficit against the Spurs, the Grizzlies came out with the energy and aggression necessary to knock their opponent on their heels, on the way to jumping out to a first quarter lead of as many as 18 points.

But this veteran Spurs team knows that each game is a marathon as opposed to a sprint, and San Antonio was able to weather the early storm by coming back with a balanced and sustained methodical attack to force the game into overtime, where the Spurs eventually prevailed 104-93 to take a commanding three games to none lead in the series.

The Memphis attack was as formidable as it was blistering to start, where the Grizzlies forced seven turnovers inside of the game’s first seven minutes. The Grizzlies went up 16-5 to open the game, and in a rare moment of visible frustration, Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich subbed out all five members of his starting lineup with his team trailing by 11 just 7:07 into the game.

It didn’t help much initially, as Memphis extended its lead before the quarter was through. But after the initial burst wore off, the Spurs began to play their game, and erased almost all of the lead before halftime, thanks to Tony Parker and Tim Duncan playing an efficient brand of offense, while the Spurs defensively limited the Grizzlies to just 30.4 percent shooting in the second period.

The teams played largely even in the second half, but once we got to the overtime session, it was all Spurs.

San Antonio played with a precision and confidence offensively in the extra frame that Memphis was simply unable to match. The Spurs attacked and expected to score on every possession, while the Grizzlies seemed to hope they could defend well enough to extend the game, while scoring only when absolutely necessary. That was the reason the Spurs were able to put up 18 points in five minutes to seal the victory, while the Grizzlies, as they did for most of the game, struggled to score with any sense of ease.

Memphis hung its hat on the “grit and grind” label all season long, but we know now that more than anything else, that was simply a code for “smoke and mirrors.” It was a fun way of saying that while less talented, Memphis would somehow drag its opponents down to its level, and use its defense to slug out a grimy possession-by-possession based contest in hopes that the style and not the substance would wear down most opponents.

It worked for much of the season, and was especially effective in the playoffs until this point. But the Grizzlies have stalled against a Spurs team that values offensive execution above all else.

It’s true that Memphis has been here before, but they haven’t faced a team anywhere close to the quality of the Spurs in these playoffs; the Clippers were flawed, and the Thunder were at less than full strength. Now facing a deficit of 3-0 in the series, the Grizzlies are just a game away from seeing their magical run come to an end at the hands of a team that displays true grit on the court, instead of simply printing it on a t-shirt.

  1. thundercocck - May 26, 2013 at 1:14 AM

    Tim Duncan is unbelievable. If someone told me in 1999 when they won their first ring that they can win a 5th in 2013 I would laugh. But hey, its 2013 it could be a reality in 5 more games.

    • andrewproughcfe - May 26, 2013 at 1:53 AM

      What a career. How many guys have been able to chase championships for 16 straight seasons? I’m thinking only Kareem, who won championships 17 seasons apart. Bill Russell only played for 14 seasons.

  2. patfic15 - May 26, 2013 at 1:17 AM

    Spurs just played with that much more discipline. After watching OKC throttle them last year, I thought they were done. Props to Pops for making the adjustments. I’ve watched Duncan since 98 and believe him to be a more successful player than many of his peers including Kobe. Grizzlies just gave up too many open shots under the basket.

  3. skol22 - May 26, 2013 at 1:18 AM

    Go Spurs Go! 5 more wins in the drive for 5!

  4. cakemixa - May 26, 2013 at 1:20 AM

    Why is a 3-0 lead ALWAYS “commanding”? Can’t wait to see if Memphis can “stave off elimination” and “force” a game 5!

  5. dannymac17 - May 26, 2013 at 1:20 AM

    Tim Duncan is top 10 of all time.

    I hate the Spurs. But that man is amazing.

  6. funktron2x - May 26, 2013 at 1:22 AM

    Still can’t believe the Red Rocket took it at Gasol and made a lefty hook and one. Absolutely nasty.

  7. nbascreed - May 26, 2013 at 7:36 AM

    I guess Z-bo isn’t as good as he thought. It’d be nice if he actually spent the summer getting in shape. Running, lifting, eating right…general things top flight athletes do to maximize their ability. You may not think it helps, but it does.

    • mydoghasfleez - May 26, 2013 at 8:14 AM

      His main off-court activity while here in Portland was going to strip clubs with guns in his vehicles, then making excuses to the cops, team & fans when he got caught (3-4 times). D-Bag forever.

  8. mungman69 - May 26, 2013 at 7:47 AM


  9. brookwell2013 - May 26, 2013 at 11:52 AM

    Brutal loss for the Grizz. Pop just seems to be making all the right moves. Hollins was really dejected at his league required post game press conference but I thought he handled the questions with grace and civility. Seems like a good man; if Memphis doesn’t bring him back next year my guess is he’ll be employed as a head coach somewhere in the NBA.

  10. markisb62 - May 26, 2013 at 3:24 PM

    What really stands out in this ‘comments’ section, are the overwhelming number of “thumbs-up” votes regarding statements about the Spurs, and in particular, Tim Duncan. SO, so many articles are written by the sports media of how boring and just not so really popular the Spurs are with the average fan. The sports media believes NBA fans truly don’t enjoy watching Tim Duncan, the Spurs team-first minded style of play, and/or Popovich’s execution stressed method of coaching…..Oh really? I for one thoroughly enjoy watching both the players AND the precision-execution style the Spurs play so well, and have done so for years and years. For a proper gauge of what the average NBA fan thinks of the Spurs ‘team-FIRST’ play, I suggest the media look at something so simple as the overwhelming “thumbs-up” the Spurs receive from the average NBA fan base gives them in articles such as this. How can any fan not at least have a genuine admiration and appreciation of the Spurs after all these years of being a top team? YEARS of greatness. The Spurs represent the way the game SHOULD be played, and represent what NBA fans LOVE to see… Sports reporters and media, you are wrong……….. Fans LOVE the greatness of the San Antonio Spurs.

    • Kurt Helin - May 26, 2013 at 8:35 PM

      I don’t think they are boring. I think the public doesn’t like watching them based on ratings, including this series. Spurs fans can click the like button on comments, but the national television ratings are the national television ratings.

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