By Paul Garcia and Michael De Leon
After losing game one of their first round series with the Memphis Grizzlies at home, the San Antonio Spurs desperately needed a win to ensure they didn’t make their trek to Beale Street down 0-2.
Enter Manu Ginobili.
Before the game, Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins said his team was prepared for Ginobili, but in the case of Ginobili, there’s only so much you can prepare for.
“Manu is Manu. We worked on the-and-roll, we weren’t very good at it tonight,” Hollins said. “He’s a tough player and a good player. I don’t think you can go out there and trap the guy and play that way.”
In usual Ginobili fashion, he spent about as much time on the floor as he did off it, fighting for loose balls or taking charges.
While Ginobili’s 17 points, seven rebounds and four assists certainly were a big part of the Spurs’ 93-87 game two win, not one person will tell you it wasn’t a war through all 48 minutes.
“Well, that’s the playoffs. I think every game is going to get more and more physical, it’s going to keep getting chippy,” Spurs forward Richard Jefferson said. “Whenever you see somebody in consecutive games, it really starts to get annoying looking at their face or hearing them.”
The first quarter played out very similar to the first round of a heavyweight title fight. Both teams made empty trips up the floor and seemed to one-up each other through the first quarter as they got a feel for each other.
While the Spurs and Grizzlies ended the first quarter tied at 17 apiece, the biggest blow to the Grizzlies came with just under two minutes remaining in the quarter. Zach Randolph, who gave the Spurs fits in game one, was called for an offensive foul, his second foul in the first quarter.
After a see-saw first quarter, the Spurs went on a 9-0 run to start the second quarter and took the lead 26-22. The Grizzlies would have their say, though, as they slowly began to chip away at the lead before going on their own 11-2 rally and sending the Spurs into the locker room down 41-44.
With 10:36 remaining in the third quarter, Ginobili threw a cross court pass to Jefferson for a crowd roaring dunk. The Spurs trailed 45 to 46.
The Spurs retook the lead 52 to 48 with 7:25 remaining in the third behind a Ginobili block and an and-1 on the opposite side.
The Spurs went on a 9-0 run with 6:18 left in the third behind a Ginobili steal and open dunk for a 56 to 48 lead.
“In the third quarter they made a run and we never recovered,” Grizzlies guard Tony Allen said. “We had some lackadaisical turnovers during that stretch and that helped them.”
With 4:57 left in the third, Battier hit a three and Mayo provided a jumper to ignite a Grizzlies 7-0 run, cutting the Spurs lead 56 to 55.
At the end of the third, the Spurs led 66 to 65 and outscored Memphis 25 to 21 in the third.
Neal and Bonner began the fourth with a 5-0 run to start and the Spurs went up 71 to 65 with 10:33 remaining in the game.
At the 7:30 mark, a Duncan hook shot gave the Spurs a 78 to 73 lead.
The Grizzlies leading scorer Sam Young hit a bucket to increase his scoring to 14-points as the Spurs narrowly led 78 to 77 with 5:08 remaining.
After a Jefferson three pointer and McDyess bucket, the Spurs lead increased 87 to 81 with 2:26 remaining in the game.
With 1:14 remaining, Duncan was called for his sixth foul and forced to leave the game. The Spurs led 89 to 82. Duncan helped hold Gasol and Randolph to 23 points combined.
Sam Young gave the Spurs a scare as he connected on a three pointer with 14 seconds remaining to cut the Spurs lead 89 to 87, but George Hill put the game away with clutch free throws to even the series. The Spurs defense held Memphis to 22 points in the fourth and their offense attributed 27 points.
Game three will tip off in Memphis on Saturday at 6:30 PM CT. The game has already been sold out since Wednesday afternoon.
The Spurs had five players score in double figures: Ginobili (17), Duncan (16), Jefferson (16), Hill (16), Parker (12).
Sam Young led the Grizzlies in scoring with 17 points.
The Grizzlies won the points in the paint battle at 40 to 38. They also won the second chance points battle 20 to 8.
In fastbreaks, the Spurs led 15 to 13.
The Spurs continued to stay aggressive in attacking the paint as they shot 32 free throws, Memphis only shot 20.