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.
NBA TV highlights from|
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
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.|
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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
"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
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
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
Ginobili scored 15 points, Hedo Turkoglu
added 12 and Parker 10
and eight assists for San Antonio, which hosts Game 2 on
"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."
, 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
"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,"
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."