VOL. 132 | NO. 80 | Friday, April 21, 2017
Grizzlies Beat Spurs 105-94 in Game 3
By Don Wade
The tone had been set three nights earlier in San Antonio. First-year coach David Fizdale had watched his team not just get beat by the San Antonio Spurs, but in his view disrespected by the officials.
By now, of course, Fizdale’s postgame press conference rant is old viral news on the Internet.
But it wasn’t old news inside FedExForum Thursday, April 20, where the Spurs and Grizzlies met in Game 3 of their first-round playoff series. When Fizdale walked onto the court before tip-off, fans shook The Grindhouse with their cheers.
“Pretty cool,” Fizdale said. “I don’t take those moments for granted.”
Far cooler, however, was the way his team played in beating the Spurs 105-94 to climb back into the series. The Grizzlies made a run in the second half of Game 2 when Zach Randolph and James Ennis joined Mike Conley, Marc Gasol and Vince Carter to start the third quarter.
For Game 3, Fizdale started with that group. The crowd roared its approval when Randolph was introduced and during the game they were serenading him with chants of “Z-Bo, Z-Bo, Z-Bo.”
Randolph finished with 21 points and eight rebounds. He scored 11 of his points in the second quarter and eight in the third. The Grizzlies led 81-63 going into the fourth and it wasn’t long before Spurs coach Gregg Popovich was benching most of his starters for good.
“Maybe starting the game put him in a more familiar position,” said the Spurs’ Pau Gasol. “He got to his sweet spots and got his jumper going. He pretty much hurt us from every angle.”
Point guard Mike Conley led the Grizzlies with 24 points and eight assists. But he, too, was happy to talk about Randolph.
“I felt like he was a secret weapon today and we finally unleashed him,” Conley said.
Randolph was dominant in 2011 when the Grizzlies, as the No. 8 seed, upset the Spurs in the first round. He stirred some of those echoes Thursday night.
“Just being aggressive,” he said. “The guys were looking for me and giving me the ball.”
Feed50 was again part of the game plan.
As for the Spurs, they started the second half by giving the Grizzlies the ball with two quick turnovers. A 50-46 lead ballooned to a 58-46 advantage a little more than two minutes into the third quarter.
“Like we were out on a picnic someplace,” Popovich said.
Kawhi Leonard led San Antonio with 18 points. LaMarcus Aldridge had 16 points and 11 rebounds.
Center Marc Gasol was right there with Conley and Randolph, scoring 21 points with six rebounds and three assists.
“Our intensity defensively set us apart. Us not turning the ball over (just five turnovers that became two Spurs points),” Marc Gasol said. “That was huge, not allowing them to run.”
The victory snapped the Spurs’ 10-game postseason winning streak over Memphis. The Grizzlies shot 50.7 percent from the floor and all season that has been a very positive indicator: They were 11-1 when shooting 50 percent or better from the floor during the regular season.
The Grizzlies also were 4-0 during the regular season when Conley, Gasol and Randolph all scored at least 20 points – as they did in Game 3.
More than a few fans were wearing T-shirts that channeled one of Fizdale’s best lines from his postgame speech about the officiating: “Take that for data.” And the crowd was loud from start to finish.
“Everything was crazy,” said Ennis, who had 12 points. “It was a big lift. I know I felt the energy.”
Game 4 is Saturday night here at 7 p.m. More energy will be expected.
“The fans were great and we need them,” Randolph said. “They’re a big part of this. I know it’s going to be rocking Saturday.”