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article imageNBA: Spurs win streak to five with gritty win over Memphis

By Lynn Herrmann     Feb 7, 2012 in Sports
Memphis - Overcoming questionable officiating late in the game, the San Antonio Spurs started their annual rodeo road trip in Memphis on Monday night and earned a hard-fought win over the Grizzlies, 89-84.
Losing six of their last eight games, the Grizzlies were in need of a night which might right their listing ship. Instead, they found the Spurs tandem of Tony Parker and Tim Duncan determined to win another game. For Duncan, it was his fourth straight game with either 19 points or 15 rebounds.
Tony Allen, the Grizzlies’ starting shooting guard and one of the premier perimeter defenders in the league, joined Zach Randolph and Darrell Arthur on the injured list due to a sore left leg. In his place, Memphis head coach Lionel Hollins started second-year player Quincy Pondexter.
Looking to improve their 3-8 road record, the Spurs were led once again by Parker and Duncan, two veterans providing valuable insight for a team loaded with youthful enthusiasm. By game’s end, the combination improved the Spurs road record to 4-8 and overall to 17-9.
With a combined 50-23 record on nine previous rodeo road rips, this season’s nine-game trip matches the longest in team history.
A 9-0 run in the first helped the Spurs to a 26-18 lead at the end of one, . San Antonio increased that lead to 13 early in the second quarter, but Memphis put together a 10-3 run, including a Jeremy Pargo contested trey at the half-time buzzer to close the gap, 52-46.
In the third, Memphis put together a 13-0 run, part of a dramatic 25-6 run to end the quarter with a 73-67 lead, their largest of the game.
The Grizzlies, however, quickly lost momentum in the final frame, missing their first eight field goal attempts before small forward Rudy Gay hit a basket. The home team’s shooting woes continued, thanks to a gritty Spurs defense, and Memphis went just 5-for-25 from the field in the fourth.
Marc Gasol, better known for his brute strength than finesse, was the victim of his own power on Danny Green’s game-winning assist to Duncan with just over a minute to play in the game. Green’s beautiful bounce pass to Duncan, between the legs of a flat-footed Gasol, led to a slam dunk, giving the Spurs an 87-81 lead as they held on for the win.
Even with officials reviewing three separate plays down the stretch, all going in favor of the Grizzlies, Memphis was unable to overcome the Spurs solid defense. “It was classic Spurs defense,” said assistant coach Brett Brown after the game on Spurs Radio.
When asked about the improving defense, a defense head coach Gregg Popovich just weeks ago had called the worst he’d ever seen with the Spurs, Brown added, “Field goal defense is a benchmark for how far we’ll go.”
Memphis finished the night shooting 37 percent from the field, including four-of-13 from beyond the arc. Gasol led the Grizzlies with 22 points, followed by Mike Conley with 19. Gay’s 18 points required 26 shots. The normally reliable O.J. Mayo, the Grizzlies first choice off the bench, shot just three-of-15. The loss dropped Memphis to 12-13 for the season.
For the Spurs, Duncan was vintage in scoring 19 points, grabbing 17 rebounds and adding five blocked shots. His rebounding effort moved him to 20th on the NBA’s all-time rebounding leaders’ list.
Parker led the Spurs scoring attack with 21 points and added another seven assists to his club record total. Tiago Splitter, off the bench, was the only other Spur in double figures, with 14 points and six boards.
Next up on the road trip are the 76ers, one of the big surprises this season in the NBA.
More about NBA, San antonio spurs, Tim duncan, Tony parker, Memphis grizzlies
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