The San Antonio Spurs defeated the Memphis Grizzlies in overtime by a score of 104-93 in Game 3 of their Western Conference finals series Saturday at FedExForum.
With the win, the Spurs grabbed hold of a 3-0 series lead.
It was a throwback performance for San Antonio, as Tim Duncan dropped 24 points, 10 rebounds, five assists and two blocks, Tony Parker added 26 and Manu Ginobili scored 19 points with seven rebounds and five assists. Tiago Splitter chipped in 11 and Matt Bonner scored eight of his own.
After a disastrous first quarter performance, the Spurs turned it around, worked their way into overtime and dominated the extra period, outscoring the Grizzlies 18-7.
For Memphis, Mike Conley had 20 points (albeit on 8-of-21 shooting) and five steals, netting floaters at every turn. Marc Gasol added 16 points and 14 rebounds, while Zach Randolph had 14 points and 15 boards.
Tony Allen tacked on 12 points and seven rebounds, while Quincy Pondexter added 15 points before fouling out.
During the first quarter, the Grizzlies redefined the term defensive dominance, holding the Spurs to just 13 points. They forced the extra dribble, eliminated the three and forced San Antonio into long two-point jumpers—the most inefficient shot in basketball.
With Tayshaun Prince draining jumpers, Memphis jumped out to a commanding 29-13 lead.
That's a great way to secure a comfortable lead.
One quarter later, the tables were turned, as the Spurs dominated the Grizzlies in the exact same manner. They outscored Memphis 27-15, riding Duncan and Parker to a furious offensive rally that cut the deficit to four.
After two lopsided quarters in the first half, the third quarter provided an even battle. Manu Ginobili took over for San Antonio, scoring six points in the final three minutes of the period, while Jerryd Bayless and Quincy Pondexter connected on multiple perimeter shots.
Even as the Spurs scored six points during the final minute, however, Memphis held on to a 65-64 lead.
It didn't take long for San Antonio to take the lead, as Danny Green hit a three-pointer just 15 seconds into the fourth quarter to make it 67-65 Spurs.
The Spurs and Grizzlies traded leads from there on out, with Marc Gasol coming to life for Memphis and Parker scoring in his usual dominant way. In fact, the leads were traded so often that it came down to the final possession of regulation.
After Conley missed a layup in the final moments, however, we went to overtime for the second consecutive game—the what ifs continue.
Rudy Gay—traded, but not forgotten.
During the overtime period, the Grizzlies were left wishing that they had converted that final attempt, as Duncan took over late. Whether he was scoring or making gorgeous touch passes, the Spurs had the look of champions.
This was the second consecutive game in which Memphis and San Antonio went to overtime. The close games in the conference finals represent a complete change from the lackluster first round of the 2013 NBA playoffs.
That had NBA scribe Holly MacKenzie thanking the basketball Gods:
Thanks are most certainly due.
One of the most surprising performers of this game was Spurs veteran Matt Bonner. Bonner, known for his three-point shooting, has been playing strong basketball in limited minutes all series, thriving on defense and attacking the basket.
After he hit a driving left hook with contact, the Twittersphere erupted:
Keep in mind, Bonner has led the NBA in three-point field goal percentage and won an NBA championship as a role player for the Spurs.
On the topic of breakout performers, perhaps no player has been as pleasant of a surprise as Memphis point guard Mike Conley. Not only has he continued to play elite defense, but he's producing at a high level on the other end.
The NBA community is taking note:
As great as Conley was, however, Duncan was even better. Duncan, 37, finished with 24 points and 10 rebounds, rallying off yet another double-double.
One more win and Duncan can compete for his fifth career NBA championship.
We could hit you with additional statistics, but the numbers are well-documented at this point. Duncan is a legend, a surefire Hall of Famer and a player that has been nothing but glorious during his 16-year career.
Bill Simmons, take it away:
San Antonio is one win away from appearing in the NBA Finals for the fifth time under Gregg Popovich. They'll get their chance in Memphis on Monday for Game 4.