Grizzlies grab 1st ever 3-1 series lead over Spurs

By Teresa M. Walker

Associated Press

Published: Monday, April 25 2011 8:40 p.m. MDT

San Antonio Spurs guard Tony Parker, of France, pleads his case with referee Bill Spooner during the first half of Game 4 against the Memphis Grizzlies in a first-round NBA basketball playoff series on Monday, April 25, 2011, in Memphis, Tenn.

Mark Humphrey, Associated Press

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Mike Conley had 15 points and seven assists to help the eighth-seeded Memphis Grizzlies rout the San Antonio Spurs 104-86 on Monday night and grab a commanding 3-1 lead in their opening series.

The Grizzlies already had made franchise history by winning their first playoff game in Game 1 and added their first playoff win at home. Now they are a game away from becoming the second eighth seed to knock off a No. 1 seed since the NBA expanded to a best-of-seven series and join the 2007 Golden State Warriors.

Game 5 is Wednesday in San Antonio.

Darrell Arthur added 14 points off the bench for Memphis. Tony Allen had 12, Zach Randolph and O.J. Mayo 11 apiece.

Tony Parker led the Spurs with 23 points, but he also had seven turnovers. Manu Ginobili had 14, Gary Neal 11, and George Hill and Tiago Splitter 10 each. Splitter, a rookie from Brazil, had not played previously in this series.

Tim Duncan had six points on his 35th birthday.

These are the same Spurs that won 61 games in the regular season. They opened up very energetic, shooting well and even had their first halftime lead in this series.

They finished the game with their starters on the bench for the final 5:43, and now the Spurs will be trying to avoid their second 4-1 opening series loss in three seasons.

The first three games had been tight with Memphis winning by no more than three points. The Spurs won Game 2 by six.

This time it was a rout once the Grizzlies took control by outscoring the Spurs 30-15 in the third quarter for the first time in this series after trailing at the half for the first time in the four games.

Memphis opened the second half with a 14-0 run with Gasol's two free throws at 11:04 putting the Grizzlies ahead to stay at 52-50. Sam Young's dunk capped the run at 7:41 of the third for a 62-50 lead. The Spurs, who shot 55.3 percent in the first half, missed their first five shots and were 6 of 15 from the floor. They also had seven turnovers in the quarter.

The Grizzlies had every fan up and waving the rally towels handed out, cranking up the noise with every Spurs' missed shot or mistake. Arthur ended the quarter by hitting a pair of jumpers to put Memphis up 78-65 at the end of the third.

When Arthur dunked at 10:13 of the fourth putting Memphis up 83-67, Spurs coach Gregg Popovich took a timeout. It didn't help as Arthur hit a shot at 8:51 pushing the lead to 85-67.

The Grizzlies went up 94-74 on a 3 by Shane Battier who was wide open in the right corner with 5:43 left. The celebration began in earnest in Memphis.

Memphis already had become only the seventh No. 8 seed to go up 2-1 in the NBA playoffs since the league expanded the postseason to 16 teams in 1983-84, and the Grizzlies are just the third team to do it since the first round expanded to best-of-seven for the 2003 playoffs.

The Grizzlies had another electric crowd, just their sixth sellout of the season, and fans buzzed with a sense of expectation instead of mere hope for a win that surrounded this team when the Spurs swept them out of the playoffs in their first postseason trip in 2004.

The Spurs opened the game by hitting eight of their first 10 led by Parker who scored eight of the first 10 points. Memphis came out forgetting its strength is going inside to Randolph and Gasol, and Randolph set that tone by taking a long jumper as the Grizzlies' first shot. He missed, and they wound up outscored 16-6 in the paint for the quarter.

San Antonio led 26-21 after 12 minutes, the first time in this series the Spurs had outscored Memphis in the first quarter.

Greivis Vasquez had an ugly turnover at the end of the first quarter, just losing the ball. Hill took it and scored to make it 26-19. Vasquez, the second-year pro out of Maryland, rebounded by hitting his next three shots to start a 9-2 run. Mayo capped it with a fast-break layup for a 30-28 lead in the second.

Parker came into the game 15-of-44, and he hit all seven shots in the first half and his four free throws in helping the Spurs lead 50-48 at halftime. But he missed his first shot in the third quarter, a 3-pointer, at 9:58.

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