The San Antonio Spurs drained 14 three-pointers in a convincing 105-83 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies in Sunday’s opening game of the NBA’s Western Conference finals.
Tony Parker scored 20 points and handed out nine assists for the Spurs, whose stifling defense held Grizzlies’ top scorer Zach Randolph to only two points.
Randolph came in averaging 19.7 points a game in the post-season, but finished just one of eight from the field for a Grizzlies team appearing in the conference finals for the first time.
The Spurs, meanwhile, showed the poise to be expected from a team making their eighth appearance in a conference finals in the past 15 years.
However, Parker, for one, was mindful of the fact that last year the Spurs took a 2-0 lead over Oklahoma City in the Western finals, only to lose the series to the Thunder.
“We still have a long way to go,” Parker said, adding that the Spurs expected Randolph and the Grizzlies to bounce back in Game 2 in San Antonio today.
“We tried to make it hard on him, double team, obviously their best scorer,” Parker said of the Spurs’ strategy against Randolph. “He’s a beast inside. We know he’s not going to play like that every game. Sometimes it happens. It’s a long season, the playoffs are tough. So he had an off night, but I know he’s going to come out strong in Game 2.”
The winners of the best-of-seven series advance to the NBA Finals against the Eastern Conference champions.
Reigning NBA champions Miami host Indiana in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals tomorrow.
Kawhi Leonard and Matt Bonner scored four three-pointers apiece as San Antonio set a club record for three-pointers in a playoff game.
Leonard finished with 18 points, while Bonner scored 12 off the bench as San Antonio handed Memphis their first double-digit loss since Game 1 of the first round playoff series against the Los Angeles Clippers.
Tim Duncan scored six points for the Spurs and pulled down a game-high 10 rebounds.
Quincy Pondexter led the Grizzlies with 17 points, making five three-pointers.
NBA Defensive Player of the Year Marc Gasol added 15 and Mike Conley added 14, but Memphis coach Lionel Hollins said his team would have to do better.
“San Antonio played extremely well and we did not,” he said.
The Grizzlies scored the first basket of the game, but San Antonio scored the next five to take a lead they never relinquished.
The Spurs led by 17 by the end of the first quarter and by as many as 20 in the second, before taking a 14-point lead into halftime.
The Grizzlies produced a 10-0 scoring run in the third as they trimmed the deficit to six points.
Pondexter was the key contributor, making two of his three-pointers in a spurt that was capped by a Jerryd Bayless dunk that made it 62-56 with 3 minutes, 43 seconds remaining in the third.
However, San Antonio’s Manu Ginobili shook off his scoring woes long enough to drain a three-pointer — his first basket of the game — that ended the Memphis run.
The Spurs relentlessly rebuilt their lead, connecting on 65 percent of their shots in the final quarter to seal the win.
“Our ball movement was great tonight and we shot the ball very well,” Parker said. “It’s just one game. We’ll try to do the same thing in Game 2. I’m sure they’re going to make some adjustments and they’re going to try to do different stuff, so we’ll see what happens.”