By Teresa M. Walker, Associated Press
Grizzlies guard Mike Conley said he was an option to take the final shot and that the San Antonio Spurs thought so, too, on a night when he scored a franchise postseason record 35 points.
Marc Gasol laughed and insisted he didn’t know his teammate was an alternative on the game-winning play. Zach Randolph backed up his All-Star center, too.
“He told me he was going to get it and go to his fadeaway, and that’s what he did,” Randolph said.
Gasol hit a 12-foot floater with 0.7 seconds left in overtime, and the Grizzlies beat the Spurs 110-108 on Saturday night to even up their Western Conference first-round series at 2-2.
The Grizzlies won despite blowing a 10-point lead with 7:38 left in regulation and franchise postseason-high 23 turnovers that San Antonio turned into 31 points.
Gasol finished with 16 points after shooting 5 of 12 for the game. He also had 12 rebounds.
The Grizzlies overcame another postseason personal best from Kawhi Leonard, who had 43 points. He rallied the Spurs by scoring the last 16 points of regulation, but missed a 21-footer short of the rim with James Ennis defending him just before the buzzer ending regulation. Leonard also tied it at 108 with 17 seconds left in overtime with a 3 from the left corner.
“That was great game,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. “Both teams played their hearts out. Just a fantastic basketball game. The fans got their money’s worth tonight for sure. At the end, Marc made a great shot. L.A. (LaMarcus Aldridge) contested it very, very well, and it went down.”
Game 5 is Tuesday night in San Antonio.
Conley also had eight assists and nine rebounds. Randolph added 12 points and 11 rebounds, but was 4 of 12 from the field.
Tony Parker scored 22 points after being shut out in Game 3, and Aldridge finished with 13 points on 6-of-11 shooting.
The Spurs made all 17 of their free throws, a tremendous improvement from Game 3 when they were 16 of 28 from the line. Unlike Game 2, Memphis also got to the line more than San Antonio and was 22 of 24.
Leonard finished with 24 points combined in the fourth quarter and overtime in a thrilling game that also featured six lead changes and seven ties in the fourth quarter and overtime. Conley said it was scary watching the two-time Defensive Player of the Year and MVP candidate this season shooting away.
“He’s unbelievable,” Conley said. “It got to a point where you just knew if he got a shot off it was going in.”
Memphis coach David Fizdale was pretty impressed with his own guard who got a five-year, $153 million contract last summer in what was the richest deal in the NBA at that point.
“I don’t think we will be having a discussion about how much money he is worth,” Fizdale said. “I don’t want to hear about it at least. The guy’s a superstar.”
In overtime, the Spurs led 102-100 when Parker intercepted a pass by Conley and pushed the ball up-court. But rookie Andrew Harrison raced down to block Mills’ shot, and Gasol was fouled when he scored inside to tie it up. His free throw with 1:32 left put the Grizzlies up 103-102, then Conley hit a floater with 47.3 seconds left.
With Ennis defending Leonard, the MVP candidate committed a turnover when he lost the ball out of bounds with 43.7 seconds left. But Leonard’s final 3 tied it up one last time before Gasol’s big bucket.
“They were able to counter Kawhi going off and making incredible shots,” Spurs forward Pau Gasol said. “So you’ve got to give them credit. You’ve got to regroup and get ready for Game 5.”
Spurs: Danny Green finished with five points on 2-of-9 shooting. Manu Ginobili was 0 of 5 himself and finished without a point. Ginobili is 0 of 15 from the floor in this series.
Grizzlies: Vince Carter became the first 40-year-old to make three or more 3-pointers in a playoff game. He hit three in the first half and finished 3 of 5 outside the arc. … Randolph previously had the franchise record scoring 34 points in the postseason twice.
When Leonard hit a free throw with 1:20 left in the second quarter for 10 points, that marked his 24th straight playoff game in double figures. That ties him with Tim Duncan for the second-longest stretch in franchise history behind only Parker’s streak of 25 straight such games between May 17, 2012 and June 9, 2013.
The Spurs now are 16-16 in Game 4s after being up 2-1 in a series, including losing seven of their last eight such games. The Grizzlies snapped a five-game skid themselves in Game 4s. This was their first win in a Game 4 since May 13, 2013, over Oklahoma City.
HE SAID IT
Fizdale: “I know we’re a seventh seed, but we feel like we beat the best teams in the West and that we can at least compete with the best, so our guys have a lot of confidence that way.”