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Spurs can't ease up despite 2-0 lead on Grizzlies

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SAN ANTONIO (AP) - If the Western Conference finals seem the slightest bit over after two San Antonio wins, hold that thought for a minute.

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The Spurs have been here before and don't feel at all comfortable with a 2-0 lead. And if there's any team that's not fazed by such a hole, it's the Memphis Grizzlies.

With the series shifting to Tennessee for Game 3 on Saturday, it's just starting to get interesting.

Tony Parker had 15 points and a career playoff-high 18 assists, Tim Duncan scored San Antonio's first six points of overtime and the Spurs bounced back after squandering a 13-point lead in the fourth quarter to beat the Grizzlies 93-89 on Tuesday night.

``I think everybody understands that we haven't done anything yet,'' Parker said. ``We just protected our home court.''

After outplaying the Grizzlies by a wide margin for the first seven quarters, the Spurs finally showed a little weakness while letting Memphis finish regulation on a 15-2 run to tie it at 85 on Mike Conley's runner with 18.2 seconds left.

Duncan opened the extra period with a layup, and then hit a tiebreaking putback on Parker's missed jumper. He then made a runner that bounced high of the back iron and rattled in for a 91-87 lead with 1:08 to play.

The Grizzlies had a chance to tie after Jerryd Bayless hit a jumper and Parker missed one of two free throws with 14.6 seconds left, but Bayless' 3-pointer from the left wing was off-target.

``I hate that we gave up that big of a lead in that situation,'' said Duncan, who had 17 points and nine rebounds while missing most of the second half with foul trouble. ``But we were resilient enough to go to overtime and not let it affect us.''

A 2-0 lead hardly seems safe for the Spurs, who certainly haven't forgotten how they won the first two games of last year's West finals before losing four in a row to the Oklahoma City Thunder.

And the Grizzlies have already rallied once after losing the first two games in a playoff series this year, coming back to beat the Los Angeles Clippers in six in the first round.

``We feel like we can get this next game and we have to play with that same confidence that we've always had at home,'' said Conley, who had 18 points to match Bayless for the team lead. ``This series is far from over, and we have to believe that.''

After trailing by as much as 18 in the second half, the Grizzlies got the chance to pull even after Manu Ginobili was called for a flagrant foul for pulling down Tony Allen by his left arm on a fast-break layup try with 26.1 seconds left.

Allen hit both free throws and Memphis got possession, setting up Conley's tying basket at the end of a string of seven straight Grizzlies points.

``We were a bit tired. I could see it more in Tony. He was our engine for the whole game,'' Ginobili said. ``He was the one getting us shots and creating for others. We ran a little flat.''

Up until the final stretch, Parker had been in control for 2 1/2 quarters.

Parker kept San Antonio humming along after Duncan went to the bench with four fouls, the last three picked up within a span of 30 seconds, early in the third quarter. Parker provided the assist on the Spurs' first seven baskets of the second half, and then scored the next two on mid-range jumpers before getting pulled for a rest with a 72-54 lead.

The Grizzlies mounted a 16-6 comeback while Parker was on the bench, getting as close as 78-70 after Zach Randolph scored inside following back-to-back Bayless jumpers.

Parker checked back in and soon had the lead growing again, ducking under Darrell Arthur to hit a floater and then knocking down a 3-pointer from the right wing to make it 83-70 with 8:14 to play. But then Parker finally went cold, missing five straight shots down the stretch as the Grizzlies rallied.

He had 14 assists in the second and third quarters and went past his career-high for the regular season of 17 during overtime.

``He was unbelievable,'' Duncan said. ``I know he's exhausted. We asked a lot of him. He was controlling the ball every time down the floor and he was making every right play there was.

``He was finding people, and people knocked down shots for him.''

After Game 1, Memphis' guards outlined a game plan that involved picking up their defense earlier on Parker to keep him from getting into the lane and putting the Grizzlies into the scramble mode that allowed San Antonio to hit a franchise playoff record 14 3-pointers in the opener.

It wasn't until late that any of their plans started working.

``He's a Hall of Fame guard, people. He's been around, he's done great things in his career,'' Memphis coach Lionel Hollins said. ``He just controlled the pace and got in the paint, found open guys. ... We battled him, though, and we wound up being in the game.''

And maybe the series.

The Grizzlies had been blown out by 22 in the first game and were down 18 with 34 minutes gone in Game 2, only to mount one of their trademark comebacks. Since Hollins took over as coach in 2009, the Memphis has overcome 17-point deficits an NBA-best 11 times to win - including in Game 4 of the last round against Oklahoma City.

``This probably is what we looked like all year long if you haven't seen us play,'' Hollins said. ``We scratch and claw and we find a way to get something working and we get back in the games, and we usually find a way to win.''

Notes: There was a moment of silence before the game recognizing the deadly tornado that hit Moore, Okla., on Monday. ... The Grizzlies missed five shots on their next-to-last possession of the first half. Allen's baseline drive was snuffed out by a Kawhi Leonard block and he also missed the putback before Randolph missed two putback tries - one of them blocked by Duncan. Tony Wroten then missed the final follow shot. ... Parker's previous career best in the playoffs was 14 assists against Utah on May 22, 2007. Johnny Moore holds the franchise postseason record with 20 against Denver in 1983. ... Duncan became the first NBA player with 500 blocks in the playoffs. ... San Antonio blocked eight shots in the second quarter.

AP NEWS
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The Associated Press
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