Spurs Sweep Grizzlies, Make NBA Finals
by Sam Amick, USA TODAY Sports
The San Antonio Spurs, that determined and dynamic group that just refuses to age, are headed back to the NBA Finals for the first time since 2007.
The Spurs didn’t beat the Memphis Grizzlies in the series-deciding Game 4 of the Western Conference finals as much as they survived them, winning 93-86 in large part because point guard Tony Parker was simply spectacular.
Parker, one-third of the Spurs’ veteran Big Three, scored 37 backbreaking points on 15-for-21 shooting. The Grizzlies tried to slow Parker down, even went for the old gouge-the-eye-out trick that didn’t work when Marc Gasol inadvertently raked his outstretched hand down the left side of his face midway through the fourth quarter.
But Parker got up every time, of course, then went right back to putting the Grizzlies down. His 18-footer fading left with 4:13 left pushed the lead to eight when it was growing smaller by the minute, and he did it again when it counted most to finish this most impressive of jobs. With 21 seconds remaining, Parker drove to the rim and was sent sprawling to the floor by Jerryd Bayless. His two free-throws put the Spurs up 93-86.
The Grizzlies looked defeated in the mid-third quarter, when the masterful Parker scored 14 points in less than eight minutes in a flurry of jumpers, floaters and one particular layup that sent Gasol into a fit of fury. With Kawhi Leonard inbounding from the right, Parker cut to the rim all by himself, and the bounce pass and bucket put the Spurs up 65-54.
Gasol pounded the scorer’s table on his way back to a deflated huddle, but it would all turn around from there. Quincy Pondexter provided the spark, hitting a three and a layup that were part of a 12-4 run that cut the Spurs’ lead to 72-66 entering the fourth.
The energy and swagger was back for the Grizzlies and their fans, who sang along to the team’s favorite rap ditty of We Don’t Bluff during a break in the action. But Parker was quick to remind them that he doesn’t either.