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article imageNBA: Spurs clutch in 4th qtr, win thriller in OT, 110-103

By Lynn Herrmann     Apr 28, 2011 in Sports
San Antonio - In a thrilling Game 5 between San Antonio and Memphis, the Spurs rose to the challenge in a must-win game, with rookie Gary Neal draining the shot of the season at the buzzer, sending the game to overtime where the Spurs pulled away, 110-103.
Down by three with 1.7 seconds to play and their season on the line, the Spurs drew up a play for the undrafted Neal who slipped by a Tim Duncan screen and then drilled a clutch 3-pointer as time expired, sending the game into the bonus frame where point guard Tony Parker took control. The emotional win now gives the team a Game 6.
That shot, hard to imagine, was only surpassed by a Manu Ginobili basket when the Spurs were down by three with 9.4 seconds to play. Playing heads-up ball, as usual, and with the clock winding down, Ginobili came up with the ball after a wild scramble and drained what appeared to be a three-pointer to tie it. After reviewing replays, the officiating crew ruled the shot a two-pointer.
The decision gave Memphis a 95-94 lead with 2.2 seconds left in regulation, and the ball. As if there were not enough tension in the AT&T Center, things were about to get even crazier.
Coming out of a Spurs timeout, Memphis’ Zach Randolph was immediately fouled, and with 1.7 seconds left, hit both free throws for a 97-94 lead. That led to another timeout, Neal’s dramatic shot and the Spurs carried their determination into overtime.
Showing their mettle down the stretch of the fourth quarter, the Spurs battled the Grizzlies with their new-found defense, and with a cast of heroes coming through in the clutch, extended their season by another 48 hours.
With time running out on the Spurs season, a big-time effort was needed by the team for a full four quarters. It came from various players. Like Duncan’s 11 first-quarter points, or like Parker’s nine first-half assists. Or like a George Hill reverse layup with less than 40 seconds, or a tip-in by Antonio McDyess off a Parker miss.
And like a physical Spurs defense that finally arrived, no doubt throwing a chink into what had previously been an unstoppable Grizzlies offense. That defense momentarily took away Memphis momentum just enough to let the veteran Spurs team create enough of their own for a change.
The Spurs inside presence on defense was matched by their sharp passing on offense. For the season, the Spurs were 53-5 when dishing 20 or more assists in a game. On Wednesday against Memphis, they had 23.
To their credit, the scrappy Grizzlies battled back from a 16-point first-half deficit to close the Spurs lead to six, 48-42 just before the half, but a Parker scoop layup just before the buzzer gave the Spurs a 50-42 lead at intermission. They were led by Ginobili with 17 points, including 3-of-5 from beyond the arc, and Duncan with 13 points.
The Grizzlies Mike Conley kept Memphis in it, however, with 16 first-half points on 8-of-10 shooting.
The third quarter set the stage for the dramatic finish, as Memphis finally regained the lead and took a 68-65 lead going into the final quarter, thanks in part to the Spurs 4-of-17 field goal shooting effort in the third.
Memphis had its largest lead of the game at 86-80, and with just over five minutes left in the game, the Spurs went to work. But Memphis hung tough and at the 1:55 mark was still up by five, 91-86.
The physical aspect of the game became a two-tiered affair, as the Spurs matched Memphis blow for blow. Somewhat shocked by the Spurs response, Memphis players became testy, with Shane Battier in the mix of things on numerous occasions.
By late in the game, Grizzlies players were barking at one another, and the Spurs, fueled by a wild home crowd, capitalized.
The Spurs starters played big minutes in the biggest game of the season, and another quick turnaround finds them headed back to Memphis for a pivotal Game 6 on Friday night.
Ginobili scored a game-high 33 points and added 6 rebounds with 6 assists. Parker added 24 points and 9 assists.
Neal, after the game on Spurs Radio, said: “Coach Pop drew up a great play, Tim Duncan set a great screen and I got a little daylight. We pulled it out, it was a great win. It’s huge, being able to keep the series alive.”
Summing up Neal’s basket, Assistant Coach Brett Brown, in the Coach’s Segment on Spurs Radio, said: “The play was excellent.” Indeed, it will rank as one of the great shots in franchise history, made by an undrafted rookie with ice in his veins.
Should the Spurs come back and win the series, the basket will be the defining moment of the season.
More about NBA, Nba playoffs, western conference, San antonio spurs, Memphis grizzlies
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