One night after Spurs forward Tim Duncan finished with just 14 points and two rebounds against the Lakers, he got his revenge on Pau Gasol’s brother.
After last night’s loss, Duncan said he was glad they were playing a back-to-back and guaranteed a better performance tonight, and he certainly came through on that, finishing with a season-high tying 28 points, 12 rebounds and two blocked shots in the Spurs’ 107-97 win over the Grizzlies.
“Timmy’s had a really fine year. He’s been consistent and done a great job all year and tonight he surpassed that,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. “He stepped it up a whole other level. He was phenomenal. He was just a monster.”
With the win the Spurs end their two-game skid, while also ending the Grizzlies four game winning streak and sweeping the regular season series.
Aside from Duncan, another player that needed to shake off a rusty night against the Lakers was Spurs guard Tony Parker. He was noticeably more aggressive and finished the first quarter with 11 points and four assists, making last night a distant memory.
The Grizzlies fought back in the second quarter, going on a number of short runs before having a 13-0 surge late in the half. Duncan and Gasol then took turns scoring before Boris Diaw knocked in a three-pointer and tipped in a rebound to bring the Spurs back within four after being down by as much as nine points.
Popovich opted to start Diaw in place of DeJuan Blair in the second half. Blair would not return but Popovich used Diaw, Matt Bonner, Tiago Splitter and Duncan to defend Marc Gasol, Zach Randolph and Marreese Speights.
“I want to get (Diaw) acclimated. I want to get him into our program and the only way you do that is to get a guy to play,” Popovich said. “He can’t do much sitting on the bench and just try to get him familiar with our program. That type of thing. I thought with his basketball knowledge at that particular time, it was something that could help us. I thought he did a good job.”
After scoring only 18 points in the second quarter, the Spurs turned it up in the third. After several lead changes and the game being tied eight times in the third quarter, the Spurs regained the lead late and ended the quarter up eight points, due to a 37-25 scoring advantage behind a 14 point quarter for Duncan and seven by Manu Ginobili.
“We had a good second quarter and we felt good about ourselves going into the locker room,” Memphis coach Lionel Hollins said. “Then we came out in the third and we gave up 37 points. Tim Duncan got it going. Manu Ginobili got it going. We just could never get back.”
The Spurs continued to pressure the Grizzlies in the fourth quarter. After Ginobili scored on two drives into the paint and Bonner scored on a long jumper, Hollins called a timeout.
The Grizzlies slowly started to chip away at the lead, and an 11-0 run brought the Grizzlies within two points. The Spurs ended the run with two free throws by Danny Green followed shortly after by a shot and foul and a tipis by Duncan with one minute remaining.
Ginobili wrapped it up with several late defensive rebounds. He was fouled on all three rebounds and iced the game, making all six free throws. Ginobili finished with 20 points, six rebounds and four assists. Parker chipped in with 13 points and nine assists.
Rudy Gay led the Grizzlies with 19 points, but made on seven of 22 shots from the field and missed all three of his three-point attempts.
“It was a battle. They pressured us, played aggressive and played physical defense on us,” Gay said. “They hit big shots, big three’s. Gary Neal hit a couple of big shots and Tim Duncan was Tim Duncan.”
The Spurs, who were dominated on the boards by the Lakers, were also out rebounded by the Grizzlies in the first half, but turned the tables in the second half, especially due to an 11-3 advantage in the third quarter.
“We knew this was going to be physical tonight. They go hard to the boards and rely on offensive rebounds,” Duncan said. “We had to counter that. I thought we played a little better today. We moved the ball a little better.”
With the win, the Spurs are now within a half game of the Oklahoma City Thunder. They’ll play the Phoenix Suns on Saturday before going on the road for a back-to-back-to-back with the Warriors, Lakers and Kings from Monday through Wednesday.