SAN ANTONIO (AP) — The Memphis Grizzlies have lost the opener in each round of this year’s playoffs, but not like this.READ MORE: US Supreme Court To Consider Controversial Texas Abortion Law
Tony Parker had 20 points and nine assists, and the San Antonio Spurs made a franchise postseason-record 14 3-pointers in routing Memphis 105-83 on Sunday in the Western Conference finals.
As disconcerting as the blowout loss was, Zach Randolph’s performance was just as troubling. Randolph was held to two points, going 1 for 8 from the field in 28 minutes.
“I’ve got to be better,” Randolph said. “Like I told my teammates, I’ve got to be better for them.”
He had a playoff-best 28 points and 14 rebounds in his last game, as Memphis eliminated defending West champ Oklahoma City in Game 5 on Wednesday night.
Randolph missed his first seven shots Sunday, including an open 2-foot jumper midway through the third quarter after he created space by pushing Tim Duncan under the rim. Randolph shook his head after the missed attempt.
“Obviously, he’s their best scorer. He’s a beast inside,” Parker said. “We know he’s not going to play like that every game. It just sometimes it happens.”
Duncan primarily defended Randolph, matching the burly forward’s physicality, push for push and elbow for elbow.
“They did a great job of storming,” Grizzlies guard Tony Allen said. “They forced him into a front position and the bigs were coming from the baseline hard. It just caught him by surprise, but I’m pretty sure he is going to bounce back in the second game and we will.”
Randolph’s first basket did not come until there was 9:26 left in the game on a tip-in of Mike Conley’s missed layup.
“They were disrupting my rhythm,” Randolph said. “It was just one of those nights.”
He was so shaken by his season-low in points that he apologized after the game.
“He tried to apologize, but we would not accept that,” point guard Mike Conley said. “It is not just him, it is all of us. He was telling us that he is going to do better, but we all have to do better defensively.”
The NBA’s stingiest defense wasn’t up to its usual standards, allowing the Spurs to hit 53 percent of their shots and go 14 for 29 on 3-pointers.
“We shot incredibly,” San Antonio guard Manu Ginobili said. “Making 14 3s against one of the best defensive teams in the league is not easy to do. It shows that we moved the ball very well. We attacked. We made the big ones.
“Kawhi (Leonard) and Danny (Green) were fantastic and, of course, Matt (Bonner) in the first half. When you are making shots like that, everything opens up and makes the game easier.”
Memphis got back into the game with Randolph watching from the bench.
Quincy Pondexter made a baseline cut for a layup off Darrell Arthur’s pass, then hit back-to-back 3-pointers during a 10-0 burst. Jerryd Bayless’ two-handed, fast-break dunk off a steal got the Grizzlies within 62-56 with 3:43 left in the third quarter.READ MORE: Texas Mother And Son Arrested In Wyoming For Murder In Oklahoma
The comeback was short-lived, though.
Bayless missed a 3-pointer on the next trip, and Ginobili was able to make one at the opposite end to spark an 11-1 response that immediately restored the Spurs’ lead to 16 by end of the quarter. Leonard hit a pair of 3-pointers and Gary Neal had one as San Antonio kept pouring it on in the fourth.
Both teams pulled their starters with over 5 minutes left and the Spurs leading by 21.
Green made three 3-pointers and scored 16, and Matt Bonner hit four of his five attempts for 12 points.
“We did a good job of moving the basketball, finding each other, trusting each other,” Green said. “Luckily we made some today.”
Pondexter led Memphis with 17 points, Marc Gasol scored 15 and Conley had 14 points and eight assists.
“We just didn’t play well. It’s not anything specific,” Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins said. “It’s just that we were running too fast, we missed some layups, we were taking bad shots and our defense was really awful. And the Spurs played well.”
The Spurs asserted themselves early, scoring on their first seven possessions and also getting a couple head-to-head defensive stops from their veterans while claiming a quick 23-8 lead. Parker swiped the ball from Conley on Memphis’ second possession, running out for a layup, and Hollins burned a timeout in the first 2 minutes.
Duncan snuffed out the ensuing play by blocking Randolph’s shot, and the Spurs’ strong start continued. Bonner hit back-to-back 3-pointers for a 17-point edge late in the first quarter, and San Antonio pushed out to a 43-23 advantage following consecutive baskets by Parker with 6:06 left before halftime.
It was the largest first-half deficit for the Grizzlies during the playoffs.
“Every time we made a mistake defensively, they made us pay every time,” said Gasol, who had three baskets in a push that helped Memphis get within 51-37 at halftime. “It was over-help or no help or whatever it was, they made you pay.”
The Spurs avoided a repeat of their Game 1 loss when the teams met two years ago in the first round. The Grizzlies went on to knock San Antonio out of the playoffs as the top seed that time.
But Memphis has its own history to fall back on. The Grizzlies recovered from an 0-2 hole in the first round against the Los Angeles Clippers and an 0-1 deficit against Oklahoma City in the West semifinals.
Game 2 is Tuesday night in San Antonio.
“We definitely have to put this one behind us,” Randolph said. “We have to play better. We have to play together and as a team. That’s what we have to do.”
(© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
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