Memphis played their best game of the series on Friday night, but San Antonio proved to be too much in the end as the Spurs held on to take a 3-0 series lead – defeating the Grizzlies, 96-87.
It didn’t appear that this game would be all that close in the early going after the Spurs took a 26-18 lead in the first quarter. San Antonio shot nearly 58 percent from the floor, with LaMarcus Aldridge and Kawhi Leonard each chipping in seven points during the opening quarter.
But the Grizzlies were able to cut into the lead, as they outscored the Spurs 25-18 in the second quarter behind six points from Lance Stephenson off of the bench. Zach Randolph had 10 points in the first half and Matt Barnes added eight points and five rebounds. Barnes put in an all-around great effort in the game, recording 17 points, 11 rebounds, four assists and two steals.
Memphis came out in front of their home crowd in Game 3 with more effort and energy than we’ve seen them play with before. Even though they were without key contributors Marc Gasol, Mike Conley, Mario Chalmers, Jordan Adams and others, they flashed a lot of the ‘Grit-and-Grind’ attitude that we’ve seen from them in the past. Their three-point lead in the third quarter was their largest of the series.
They were able to stay alive for the entire game – even leading at one point in the fourth quarter – with their second-chance points and their baskets in the paint. The Grizzlies out-rebounded the Spurs 15-7 on the offensive glass and outscored San Antonio 44-28 in the paint. Randolph led the Grizzlies with 20 points on 9-of-21 shooting and also added 11 rebounds. JaMychal Green was also productive off of the bench for the Grizzlies with 10 points, four rebounds and two assists in 13 minutes of action.
The Spurs pulled away from the shorthanded Grizzlies in the end. Memphis was settling for bad shots down the stretch and the San Antonio was able to take advantage, outscoring the Grizzlies by 10 points in the fourth quarter.
Leonard led all scorers with 32 points (on 11-of-22 shooting) while also contributing seven rebounds, five blocks, four steals and two assists. He showed on Friday night why he was named the Defensive Player of the Year for the second straight year, as he was active all over the court and made offense difficult for several Grizzlies players.
The two teams will now turn to Game 4 on Sunday, where the Spurs will look to close out the series in four games. The Grizzlies have been written off this entire series and came out with more fight in Game 3, but it was still not enough. They’ll need to play near-perfect basketball on Sunday to avoid the sweep, but it may not matter in the end if San Antonio can continue to play at this high level.
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