Mark Humphrey, Associated Press
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — These Memphis Grizzlies just keep making NBA history — and believers.
Zach Randolph had 31 points and 11 rebounds and the Grizzlies advanced to their first Western Conference semifinals and made NBA history in knocking off the top-seeded San Antonio Spurs 99-91 on Friday night.
Memphis had been the franchise best known for empty seats and the unenviable NBA mark for playoff futility at 0-12 after being swept in its first three appearances. This time, a third straight sellout crowd cheered every basket with a couple of signs begging the Grizzlies to "Finish Them" in a town desperately needing a hero.
The Grizzlies needed 10 seasons in Memphis, but they have become just that as only the second No. 8 seed to upset a No. 1 seed since the NBA expanded the opening series to a best-of-seven.
Now Memphis coach Lionel Hollins sees a great opportunity for the Grizzlies to do something really special.
"Not a lot of people knew about us coming in, but we certainly have made some noise and turned some heads and got some attention that probably wouldn't have been given to us if we'd lost this series," Hollins said. "We'd just be another eight seed losing to the No. 1 seed."
They will open the second round in Oklahoma City on Sunday.
Marc Gasol had 12 points and 13 rebounds for Memphis. Tony Allen added 11 points, and rookie Greivis Vasquez had 11 off the bench playing 24 minutes with Mike Conley in foul trouble most of the game.
Tony Parker led San Antonio with 23 points, Manu Ginobili had 16, Tim Duncan 12 and Antonio McDyess 10.
The Spurs led only twice at 2-0 and again at 80-79 when McDyess hit a 15-footer with 4:41 left.
That's when Randolph, the man cast off and unwanted before he arrived in Memphis in the summer of 2009, took over and scored 17 of the Grizzlies' 29 points in the fourth quarter.
"From a pick-me-up perspective, we just got on his back, and we rode him like he was an English warhorse," Hollins said. "He was really carrying us, We were just hanging on."
Randolph scored 10 of the next 14 for Memphis, with his hook putting Memphis ahead to stay at 81-80. Conley added a jumper, then Randolph hit a fallaway jumper, two free throws and another fallaway jumper for an 89-82 lead with 1:55 left. Randolph went to the bench to a huge cheer with 3.4 seconds left.
"Emotion is high, not just for the Memphis Grizzlies but for the whole city of Memphis and the fans," Randolph said. "It's something. It's a great accomplishment. We've got to be happy. We should be happy. But it's a quick turnaround. We've got a game Sunday, and we have to get ready."
The Spurs, winners of 61 games in the regular season and the dynasty with four NBA titles with Duncan, turned the ball over three straight times while Randolph was putting away this franchise's biggest win. One desperate pass from Ginobili went right off Parker's hands.
"We played well all season long," Parker said. "As you know, it doesn't mean anything if you don't play well in the playoffs, and overall Memphis played better than us. Have to give them credit. Had a chance at the end, up one, 5 minutes to go. We didn't make the plays we needed to play."
San Antonio had gotten a reprieve with Gary Neal's clutch 3 getting the Spurs to overtime as they staved off elimination Wednesday night. But the Spurs talked of how lucky they were to pull out a game when they had their bags packed for the offseason.
"We were hoping at some point that they would fold under the pressure, make some mistakes through that pressure and they didn't," Duncan said. "They did the exact opposite. They made every play they needed to make, they took care of the ball, they got the shots they wanted to get, and their guys made the shots when they needed to."
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