Spurs Maintain First Place, Beat Grizzlies
San Antonio 83, Memphis 81
SAN ANTONIO, April 9 (Ticker) -- Tim Duncan could be rounding into playoff form.
Duncan had 23 points and 12 rebounds as the San Antonio Spurs avoided their first three-game losing streak of the season with an 83-81 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies.
"It was a tough game tonight," Parker said. "Memphis really played great. We had a couple of losses in a row and we really wanted to get this one. There was a lot of pressure out there tonight."
"We put ourselves in a great position, but we gave up two in a row at home as of late," Duncan said. "We still have the lead in the West and the lead in the division and we are going to try and hold onto that."
One of the NBA's best players who has been slowed by a foot injury, Duncan had not scored more than 16 points in his last four games. But the superstar was more active Sunday, making 8-of-14 shots in 38 minutes.
"I'm just trying to find ways to be more effective right now," Duncan said. "I am trying to get a spring back in my step. I am trying to attack the offensive boards and do whatever it takes to get going."
Duncan also made a key defensive play to preserve the win, denying Pau Gasol's driving layup attempt as time expired.
"We focused tonight on contesting Pau Gasol's shots," Duncan said. "Our defense also tried to make it difficult for him to get to the basket."
Gasol scored 14 points - just two in the fourth quarter - for the Grizzlies, who led by as many as nine in the first half and held a 65-63 advantage entering the final period.
"This was a good lesson for us," Gasol said. "It lets us find out what's in store for us in the playoffs. This game showed us that reality. Perhaps we have to step it up one notch for the playoffs facing the strongest teams. So this was a good lesson to learn and we have another one on Tuesday."
Jake Tsakalidis netted 15 points and Mike Miller 14 for Memphis (44-33), which fell one game behind the Los Angeles Clippers for fifth place in the Western Conference. The Grizzlies already have clinched their third consecutive postseason berth.
"I'm proud of the way our guys hung in there," Grizzlies coach Mike Fratello said. "All that really matters is the final score. All the games against the Spurs have been close. I think we have lost by one, two, and three points. The point is they swept us."