Spurs rout Grizzlies 116-95, sweep their way to semifinals
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) The San Antonio Spurs have swept their way into the Western Conference semifinals after an almost perfunctory, yet very physical test from the most injury-depleted team ever in the NBA playoffs.
Kawhi Leonard scored 21 points as the Spurs routed the Memphis Grizzlies 116-95 on Sunday, sweeping the best-of-seven first-round series.
''It wasn't a fair fight,'' Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said of playing a team that set an NBA record with 28 Grizzlies playing this season. ''Whoever was available came out and played, and they executed to the best of their ability. They played with a lot of heart and a lot of fortitude.''
The Spurs finished off their ninth sweep of a postseason series in franchise history, their third against the Grizzlies. San Antonio also swept Memphis in the 2004 first round and the 2013 Western Conference finals.
''They play very physical, so it's a good test for the next round,'' Spurs guard Tony Parker said.
The only thing that delayed the Spurs advancing was a power surge that knocked out the lights, stopping the game for about 20 minutes in the second quarter.
San Antonio now awaits the winner of Oklahoma City-Dallas, a best-of-seven series that the Thunder lead 3-1.
LaMarcus Aldridge scored 15 points and grabbed 10 rebounds for the Spurs. Parker finished with 16 points. David West had 11.
Lance Stephenson scored 26 points off the bench for the Grizzlies. Zach Randolph and Matt Barnes each had 15 points and Vince Carter 14.
This is the third time in the past six postseasons the Grizzlies have been ousted in the first round but the first in that stretch in which they didn't at least push the series to a Game 7. Fans saluted the Grizzlies, holding up towels that read ''ALL HEART'' as the game ended, and Memphis coach Dave Joerger was very emotional when he talked to reporters.
''This season has been hard, it's been really hard,'' Joerger said. ''They could've quit, could've not made the playoffs. And every day they came out and fought like crazy.''
The Grizzlies had plenty of reasons to want an end to what has been a painful slog to the finish of the season. But Joerger wanted at least one playoff victory to reward his players for their hard work and fight. The Grizzlies didn't get the win, but they did play tight and gritty defense to force five lead changes and 10 ties through the first half.
The Spurs finished the quarter with a 10-2 run for a 25-19 lead after the first.
The game was delayed for 19 minutes when the lights went out with 10:02 left in the second quarter because of a voltage issue that knocked out power to parts of downtown Memphis for 15 minutes. Play stopped, though backup generators kept some lights on. The Spurs and Grizzlies stretched and stayed warm by shooting until the game resumed.
After the lights came back on, Memphis matched its biggest lead at 34-31 on a pair of free throws by Chris Andersen with 6:19 left. Stephenson helped keep the Grizzlies close with 12 points in the quarter, and the Spurs even lost a 3 by Leonard after a review showed the shot came after a shot-clock violation, and they led only 47-45 at halftime to give Memphis fans hope.
''We just went down swinging, and that's all you can ask for,'' Randolph said.
Then San Antonio, which went 67-15 during the regular season, took control. The Spurs opened the third quarter with a 22-8 run and finished by hitting 14 of 22 of their shots to outscore Memphis 37-21. The exhaustion finally caught up with the Grizzlies, who hit only 8 of 22 in the quarter.
''It's always hard to close out a game,'' Parker said. ''I felt like they gave everything in the first half, but the energy in the third quarter and fourth quarter we really dominated.''
Spurs: With his ninth postseason series sweep, coach Gregg Popovich now leads all coaches in that category. He had been tied with Phil Jackson for the most seven-game series playoff sweeps. ... With this game, Tim Duncan now ranks second in most playoff games, with 245, trailing only Derek Fisher (259). Duncan, who turns 40 on Monday, broke a tie for second with Robert Horry. ... The Spurs outrebounded Memphis 41-36 and had a 50-38 edge in scoring in the paint. ... All who played scored except Andre Miller.
Grizzlies: This was the fifth time in franchise history Memphis has been swept. ... Barnes played 44 minutes, 34 seconds. ... Andersen tied his season-high with 13 rebounds. ... Guard Mike Conley was presented with the Joe Dumars award for sportsmanship before tipoff, his second in his nine-year career.
Barnes said the lights going out reminded him of the Super Bowl between San Francisco and Baltimore. ''I was hoping we were going to do what they did and come back and win,'' Barnes said. ''Unfortunately, it didn't work out like that.''