(The Sports Xchange) - Games between the San Antonio Spurs and the Memphis Grizzlies are usually more grit than gold and the Spurs’ 92-82 victory over the Grizzlies on Saturday was the latest in that vein of battles not recommended for the faint of heart.
Forward Kawhi Leonard scored 19 points and guard Tony Parker had 18, all in the first half, as the San Antonio remained unbeaten at home.
The Spurs (10-3) led just 86-80 in the final minute but got back-to-back running floaters from forward Tim Duncan and a three-point dagger from Leonard with 16 seconds remaining and the shot clock ticking down to clinch their sixth win of the season at the AT&T Center.
The victory snapped Memphis’ season-best four-game winning streak.
“Memphis played well in the fourth quarter to bring the lead back to single digits,” Leonard said. “We just kept fighting on the defensive end and made some good plays down the stretch.”
The two teams combined for 35 turnovers, 18 for the Spurs. San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich refused to use the excuse that the Spurs are still trying to figure out their new lineup and rotation for its ragged, if winning, effort.
“No, that was a sign of a team playing poorly,” Popovich deadpanned.
Guard Manu Ginobili, back in the lineup after a two-game absence with a sore hip, added 15 points for San Antonio. Duncan scored 10 points, eight in the fourth quarter, and pulled down 10 rebounds.
The Grizzlies (7-7) got 16 points from guard Mike Conley. Memphis reserve guard Courtney Lee scored 15 points and reserve forward Matt Barnes had 10 points.
“You have to get what you’re trying to get offensively and right now we are a little scattered,” Grizzlies coach David Joerger said.
“We could be better, and not turn the basketball over. If we are going to struggle as much as we have offensively this season, we can’t take too many possessions off defensively. Tonight San Antonio had too many times where they just had a straight line (to the basket) -- walk in, shoot, layup.”
Center Marc Gasol had just eight points and eight rebounds the night after his first triple-double of the season.
“We took tougher shots than we should have, but that’s what San Antonio does to you,” Gasol said. “They are a team that you can’t beat with one action. When we have an advantage on a drive or on a pick-and-roll, we need to make the next pass or the right play for the next guy.”
Memphis’ bench outscored San Antonio’s reserves 38-28, even with injured forward Zach Randolph out with a knee injury.
The Spurs led 24-19 after the first quarter despite outshooting the Grizzlies 45.5 percent to 35 percent from the field and outscoring Memphis 14-4 in the paint.
San Antonio turned things up a notch early in the second quarter as guard Patty Mills hit a 3-pointer and Ginobili followed with a three-pointer, a layup off a steal and a free throw to push the Spurs’ advantage to 33-21 with 10:11 left.
Parker punished the Grizzlies with 12 points in the second quarter and 18 points in less than 17 minutes of action in the first half as the Spurs built a 16-point lead on the way to a 53-39 advantage at halftime.
But Memphis responded, getting within 61-55 with 6:22 left in the third quarter on a layup by Barnes, a jumper by Gasol and then a Barnes dunk off a Gasol assist.
San Antonio ran off 13 of the quarter’s final 17 points, with 10 of those points coming from Leonard (six) and Ginobili (four), staking the Spurs to a 74-61 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
Compiled by Peter Rutherford