Duncanís Alley-oop Lifts Spurs by Grizzlies
San Antonio 80, Memphis 79
SAN ANTONIO, Jan. 14 (Ticker) -- Pau Gasol outplayed Tim Duncan for the most of the game. However, the two-time MVP rose to the occasion at the end.
Duncan scored 19 points, including an alley-oop layup over Gasol with 7.2 seconds to play that lifted the San Antonio Spurs to a thrilling 80-79 triumph over the Memphis Grizzlies.
"We were caught off guard in the lane," Duncan said. "The pick-and-roll caught us off guard and we were caught in-between. One of us went on Bobby Jackson and we switched there."
Facing consecutive losses at home, the defending NBA champions responded as Manu Ginobili floated an inbound pass to Duncan near the basket. The 6-11 Duncan was able to outleap the 7-foot Gasol and drop the ball into the hoop.
"They defended it real well the first time," Duncan said. "Pau kind of fronted me and we went back after the timeout and (Spurs coach Gregg Popovich) drew a very similar play to see if he would front me again. Manu threw a great pass over the top and it was just a tip-in there to put us up."
Memphis, which had won seven of its last eight games overall and five of its last six against San Antonio, had a chance to win, but Jackson's jumper bounced off the rim.
"I thought the last one looked really good," Spurs coach Greg Popovich said. "He's capable of hitting big shots because we all know he's done that before."
As sharp as Gasol was on the floor, he was dismal from the line. He made only 4-of-13 of his free throws while the rest of the Grizzlies made six of their seven.
"Obviously, our free throws hurt us and we need to do a better job of that," Grizzlies coach Mike Fratello said. "You can't win big games against great teams if you shoot like that from the foul line."
Ginobili scored 20 points in his first start after seven games off the bench following his return from a foot injury.
"It's important for me to start but even more important is that I feel the same way as a backup coming off the bench," Ginobili said. "You have to contribute any way you can. I try to do the best I can for the team and bring energy."
"I think everybody is feeling a sense of normalcy with him in the starting lineup," Popovich said. "We as a team felt a bit more normal and organized. Everybody fit into their roles with Manu back starting."
The Spurs seemingly had the game under control after a pair of free throws by Duncan gave them a 74-62 lead with 5:41 to go. However, Jackson helped the visitors rally by scoring six of his 19 points in the final four minutes.
"It was a tough loss after coming back the way we did," Fratello said. "I'm really proud that our guys hung in there and they fought them right down to the wire."
"It was a very good win for us against a very good team," Popovich said. "(The Grizzlies) are a really fine club. No one talks about them but their record indicates how good they are. We were fortunate to get the victory. It will be tough on Monday against them."
The teams will meet again Monday in Memphis.
"You saw tonight, the same thing is going to happen Monday," Popovich said. "Both teams are going to compete as hard. We'll just have to see what happens."