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article imageNBA: Spurs even series against Memphis, Ginobili returns

By Lynn Herrmann     Apr 21, 2011 in Sports
San Antonio - Coming into the second game of what will prove to be a bruising battle, the San Antonio brought to the arena on Wednesday a rested Manu Ginobili and turned him loose on the Memphis Grizzlies to help scrap out a 93-87 Spurs win in Game 2 of their series.
After losing the series opener on Sunday, their sixth straight opening game loss in a playoff series, the Spurs put together a win the old-fashioned way, at least for this year’s roster, and played good team defense throughout the game, especially in the fourth quarter stretch.
San Antonio, 1-5 in the playoffs without Ginobili in the lineup, brought their 17.5 points-per-game energizer back for Game 2, letting him do what he does best: score, pass, assist, and rebound. While there were many factors contributing to the Spurs victory, Ginobili was a main one.
Coming off a sprained right elbow suffered in the last game of the regular season, Ginobili did not let the heavily protected arm bother him much, save for at the line. The 86 percent-for-the-season free throw shooter hit just 7-of-13 from the charity stripe, but did so many other things right, like an assist and a block in the first 33 seconds, and four quick rebounds in the opening minutes of the game, that helps put the free throw issue in perspective.
With only 13 assists and 40 percent shooting from the floor in Game 1, the Spurs knew their attack-and-pass plan would need to deliver, or face the prospect of coming back from 0-2, a feat accomplished only three times in the history of the league.
"Going back to Memphis down 2-0 was going to be really hard to overcome," Ginobili said after the game, MySA reports. "We brought some edge."
After allowing the Grizzlies’ Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol to team up for 49 points in Game 1, on a combined 19-of-25 from the field, the Spurs defense clamped down on the two big men, limiting them to a combined 23 points that came on their 7-of-23 shooting performance.
The Spurs defense allowed Memphis to shoot 39.8 percent in field goal attempts on Wednesday. Since 2004, the Spurs have played 15 games where they limit the opposition to less than 40 percent from the floor and are 14-1 in those games.
The low-scoring first quarter, full of playoff buzz, saw the Spurs miss their final six shots to take a 17-17 tie into the second quarter. San Antonio shot just 39 percents from the field in the opening frame, and were only outdone in that effort by the Grizzlies’ 33 percent, who connected on just 8-of-24 field goals.
Memphis built a six-point lead late in the second quarter but the Spurs hung around, pulling within 44-41 at intermission.
In the third, San Antonio went on an 18-4 run that spanned the second quarter to take a 56-48 lead, their largest of the game. It included an 11-0 run culminated by a Ginobili steal after which he drove in for a slam, sending the AT&T Center crowd into a frenzy.
Memphis needed a timeout, and the Ginobili moment assuredly seemed like an eternity for the visitors. The move worked, however, as the Grizzlies battled back, going on a 7-0 run to close within 56-55. The game remained tight the rest of the way, with both teams offering plenty of physical action.
George Hill, returning to his customary role off the bench because of Ginobili’s return, scored 14 of his 16 points in the second half, driving into the heart of the Grizzlies defense to get sent to the foul line and lining up for a couple of critical 3-pointers. His lift off the bench, along with Ginobili’s in the starting gate will be crucial for the Spurs to do well in the rest of the series.
Sam Young pulled the Grizzlies within two, 89-87, with 14.4 seconds to play, but Hill hit four clutch free throws in the final seconds to help ice the win for the Spurs.
As a team, the Spurs had 21 assists, a vast improvement over Game 1. Tony Parker led the way with seven of those. He also scored 12 point and added four rebounds, a block and a steal to his line.
His was a productive, if not quiet performance, seemingly overshadowed by the hype over Ginobili, but should give the Spurs a nice feeling going into Game 3 Saturday in Memphis.
Both teams had balanced scoring attacks, with each having five players score in double figures. The Spurs were led by Ginobili with 17 points, seven rebounds, four assists, four steals, and a block. Tim Duncan added a double-double with 16 points and 10 rebounds. He threw in three blocked shots for good measure before fouling out late in the fourth quarter.
All five Grizzlies starters hit double figures and were led by Young with 17 points, followed by Tony Allen with 15 points. Mike Conley added 13 points and four assists.
More about NBA, Nba playoffs, San antonio spurs, Memphis grizzlies, ginobili
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