Watch Kawhi Leonard, Mike Conley in epic playoff duel Saturday (VIDEO)

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Kawhi Leonard scored 16 straight points for the Spurs at the end of regulation to give San Antonio the lead and a chance. Then Mike Conley hit a floater in the lane forced overtime.

There Mike Conley hit a floating bank shot that had the Grizzlies up three with :47 seconds left, only to have Leonard answer with a three to tie the game. Marc Gasol would break that tie and get Memphis the series-evening win.

Conley and Leonard traded blows through the clutch parts of Saturday’s epic Game 4 between Memphis and San Antonio. It’s worth checking out the highlights again.

Marc Gasol game-winner tops Kawhi Leonard’s brilliance, evens Spurs/Grizzlies series 2-2

Associated Press
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Best. Game. Of. The. Playoffs.

So far at least.

Kawhi Leonard scored 16 consecutive points for the Spurs down the stretch of regulation to force overtime, then in OT hit a corner three with 7.2 seconds left to tie the game at 108-108. Leonard finished the game with a career playoff high of 43 points.

It wasn’t enough. Because in those final seconds Marc Gasol did this.

The 110-108 Memphis win ties the series at 2-2 as it heads back to San Antonio for Game 5. I might not want to sit next to Gregg Popovich on the flight home.

While Gasol hit the big shot, he never gets the chance if Mike Conley isn’t every kind of amazing through the clutch parts of this game. Conley finished with 35 points, and that includes a floater in the lane that forced OT (although Leonard got a pretty good look to end it in regulation and just missed). I’m surprised the Spurs switched on the pseudo pick on this play.

The Spurs struggled to get stops down the stretch, mostly because they had David Lee and Tony Parker both on the floor and Memphis did a good job getting switches onto those defenders. Spurs starting center and best defensive big Dewayne Dedmon missed the game due to an illness, and that ended up mattering.

Gregg Popovich on Grizzlies starting Zach Randolph: ‘We’ve played against Zach 14 hundred and 73 times’

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — (AP) Zach Randolph, the self-described blue collar forward in a blue collar town, always gives the Grizzlies whatever they need.

No complaints. Just check in when called upon and scrap for rebounds and buckets.

Even when relegated to coming off the bench after being a starter throughout his long career, Randolph never griped about playing fewer minutes.

Randolph is answering the bell again for his Grizzlies, as only he can.

“We needed Z Bo in the starting lineup for this series” against San Antonio, first-year Memphis coach David Fizdale said Friday. “This series called for that, so that’s why I moved that direction. If it was a team that was running circles around us from the 3-point line and a whole lot of speed and space, he probably wouldn’t be in the lineup right now.”

Yes, these Grizzlies needed some of that old Grit `n’ Grind. The physical, pounding style of play that helped them reach the playoffs the last six seasons.

With the Spurs shoving the Grizzlies all over the court in the first two games of their opening playoff series, Fizdale had to make a move. He put Randolph back in the starting lineup to give the Grizzlies some needed muscle to push back.

Randolph responded with 21 points and eight rebounds, and the Grizzlies will need much more of the same from the 15-year veteran to keep the Spurs from “bullying” their way through the rest of this best-of-seven series.

To the 6-foot-9 and 260-pound Randolph, all that matters is that he is at his best banging under the basket, pushing and leaning against opponents while somehow finding the right angle to toss up a short jumper or grab a loose ball.

“I’m going to go out there and just play hard and leave it all on the court,” Randolph said. “So playing more minutes is what I’ve been wanting to do, and I’m getting a chance.”

Even while coming off the bench , Randolph still led all reserves with 19 double-doubles during the season.

Randolph reminded everyone Thursday night that he hasn’t lost his touch. He put on a show helping Memphis snap a 10-game postseason skid against the Spurs with a 105-94 victory and pull within 2-1. Randolph knocked down step-back jumpers, hook shots and even threw in a rare dunk while grabbing eight rebounds.

“We’ve played against Zach 14 hundred and 73 times,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said, adding that Randolph has always been a heck of a player so “it’s not a whole lot different.”

LaMarcus Aldridge battled against Randolph in the 2015 playoffs while with Portland and knows exactly what to expect with the man nicknamed Z Bo back in the starting lineup.

“You got to battle,” Aldridge said. “It’s a fight down there. You got to battle, and you’re going to try to do your work early and just battle him the whole game.”

Grizzlies guard Mike Conley said it was fun with Randolph having so much success.

“We finally unleashed him,” Conley said. “He really changed the game and hopefully changed the series and will give us some confidence.”

Randolph is a free agent this summer, so Saturday night’s Game 4 could be the last in Memphis for the man loved for both his play on the court and charity work away from the arena. Randolph said that has crossed his mind, especially now with the regular season over and the postseason just two losses away right now.

“You try to put that behind you and when it’s time for that, you take care of that,” Randolph said. “First task at hand is trying to win a championship.”

 

Vince Carter turns back clock with impressive dunk vs. Spurs (VIDEO)

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A lot of things went right for Memphis in its 105-94 Game 3 win over the Spurs Thursday, like shooting 55.6 percent from 3 feet out to the arc, or going 5-of-8 on corner threes, or shooting 50.6 percent overall against the best defense in the NBA this past season.

Also, vintage Vince Carter showed up a play.

Carter only had four points in the game, but these two were impressive.

Grizzlies pull within 2-1 of Spurs with 105-94 win

AP
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) Mike Conley scored 24 points and handed out eight assists as the Memphis Grizzlies snapped a 10-game postseason skid against San Antonio by routing the Spurs 105-94 on Thursday night.

The Grizzlies pulled within 2-1 in this first-round Western Conference series, giving first-year coach David Fizdale his first postseason victory. This also marked the Grizzlies’ first win over the Spurs in the playoffs since April 2011, when Memphis beat San Antonio in six games.

Game 4 is Saturday night.

Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph each scored 21 points for Memphis, which outscored San Antonio 31-17 in the third quarter and led by as much as 22 in the second half.

Kawhi Leonard, who scored 32 and 37 in the first two games, was held to 18. LaMarcus Aldridge added 16, and Kyle Anderson had 15 as Spurs coach Gregg Popovich benched his starters for most of the fourth quarter.

Memphis fans roared when Fizdale came onto the court before the game following his rant against officiating in Game 2, which cost him a $30,000 fine from the NBA. And they stayed on their feet much of the night, funneling their frustration into yelling for the Grizzlies and against the officials.

In this game, the Spurs had a big edge at the line in the first half (10 of 15) compared to the Grizzlies, who took only four free throws the entire first half. The crew of James Capers, Courtney Kirkland and Pat Fraher whistled the Spurs for only one foul in the second quarter – with 10.9 seconds left.

But Randolph scored 11 points in the second quarter, and the Grizzlies took a 50-46 lead into halftime. Then they really took control, opening the third by hitting 10 of their first 14 shots. They also played much better defense, harassing the Spurs into missing 11 of their first 17 in the quarter.

Popovich tried pulling his starters completely at one point, then simply sat down at others.

TIP-INS

Spurs: Manu Ginobili became the first second-round draft pick to play 200 career playoff games. … The Spurs shot an NBA-best 87.7 percent at the free throw line through the first two playoff games. They finished 16 of 28 (57.1 percent).

Grizzlies: Fizdale stuck with the lineup that worked in the second half of Game 2 when Memphis outscored the Spurs 45-40 despite losing. That meant Randolph and James Ennis both starting. This was just the sixth start for Randolph, who had 19 double-doubles off the bench during the regular season. He scored 11 points in the second quarter and even had a rare dunk.

GAME 3

The Spurs have dominated the postseason against Memphis, sweeping all three of the series San Antonio won with the exception of 2011. The third game of each series has been tight with three decided by single digits, and Game 3 of the 2013 West finals went to overtime before the Spurs won 104-93. The Grizzlies’ lone win in that span in the third game of any series with San Antonio came in 2011 when they won in six games.

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