SAN ANTONIO, April 17 (Ticker) -- The San Antonio Spurs looked like NBA champions. The Memphis Grizzlies looked like a team playing its first playoff game.

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Led by Tim Duncan and a cast of savvy veterans, the experienced Spurs took advantage of the inexperienced Grizzlies in a 98-74 victory in the opener of their Western Conference first-round series.

The third-seeded Spurs began preparing for defense of their NBA title by winning their last 11 regular-season games. They looked just as sharp as the postseason began, shooting 54 percent (41-of-76) from the field.

Tim Duncan and the Spurs opened their title defense in style.
D. Clarke Evans/NBAE/Getty Images
Duncan scored 14 of his 26 points in the first half, helping the Spurs grab a 15-point lead. The MVP of the NBA Finals in 1999 and 2003 made 12-of-18 shots, adding nine rebounds and two blocks.

"It was a good start to get that nervous energy out, kind of continue from there," Duncan said.

San Antonio also got a huge lift from Robert Horry, who scored 10 points on 5-of-6 shooting in the first half of his 166th career playoff game. Signed as a free agent last summer, Horry has made a career of playing well in the postseason.

"He played well for us all year long," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. "Sometimes we limited his minutes (during the season), but tonight was something we were hoping to get from him."

The sixth-seeded Grizzlies are in the playoffs for the first time since entering the NBA in 1995. The players on their roster had just 74 postseason games under their collective belts, and it showed.

Spurs championship holdovers Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili and Bruce Bowen helped set a tone of toughness that the Grizzlies could not match. Memphis shot a season-low 35 percent (23-of-66), committed 20 turnovers and spent too much time complaining to the referees.

"That's what I just talked to them about in the locker room," said Grizzlies coach Hubie Brown, who was coaching his first playoff game in 20 years. "This is your first time in this type of situation. You're playing the best defensive team in the league, and you have to gain from this."

By the time James Posey flagrantly fouled Ginobili with 6:08 to play, it was too late as the Grizzlies trailed by 23 points. Duncan took a seat a minute later.

During the season, Memphis beat San Antonio three times. But Duncan played just 10 minutes in those games and reminded the Grizzlies that the Spurs are a much different team when he is on the floor.

Ginobili scored 15 points, Hedo Turkoglu added 12 and Parker 10 and eight assists for San Antonio, which hosts Game 2 on Monday.

"It starts with Tony," Popovich said. "The last month and a half of the season, maybe a little bit more, he's really become more mature as a point guard."

Bonzi Wells, the Memphis player with the most postseason experience, scored 16 points. Posey added 15 in his first playoff game, but other Grizzlies did not fare well. Pau Gasol made just 3-of-11 shots, Stromile Swift was 1-of-6 and Mike Miller 0-of-5.

"We got embarrassed," Wells said. "We're embarrassed in ourselves (representing) the whole city of Memphis."

"Obviously, experience is an advantage. But not this big," Gasol said.

The Spurs took the lead for good midway through the first quarter. Horry came on and scored six quick points, helping San Antonio to a 28-19 lead after one period.

"He plays very smart basketball and adjusts to other people very well, as good as Tim Duncan," Popovich said. "Tim and Robert are so unselfish that they work well together."

As the Grizzlies continued to sputter, the Spurs put together a 17-7 run powered by seven points from Duncan, whose three-point play made it 49-32 in the final minute of the first half.

"Give them credit in that first half," Brown said. "They were quicker than us. An excellent transition game. They got a great spark from Horry and Ginobili."