Dominant Duncan lead Spurs to fifth straight win

The San Antonio Spurs opened their annual Rodeo Road Trip on a high note, beating the Memphis Grizzlies 89-84 for the third time this season and tightened their grip on their Southwest Division lead.

Duncan powers the Spurs to victory over the Grizzlies with 19 points and 17 rebounds.

The Grizzlies made a surging comeback in third period outscoring the Spurs 27-15 in the quarter to take a lead 73-67 entering the fourth quarter.

However, the Spurs had Tim Duncan.

The 35 year-old forward, who was once a two time league MVP reminded everyone that there is still plenty left in his tank.

Duncan scored 13 of 19 his points in the second half, nine coming in the fourth quarter, including a dunk that gave the Spurs an 87-81 lead with 1:17 left in the game.

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Spurs hold off Grizzlies, snapped two game skid

Kawhi Leonard and DeJuan Blair had six points each to help the San Antonio Spurs take a five-point lead 24-19, over the Memphis Grizzlies after the first quarter.

Kawhi Leonard's second double-double of the season helped the Spurs notch their third win on the road.

The Spurs then scored the first six points of the second quarter en route to a 9-2 spurt and capitalized on a 21-8 surge in the middle of the first half to take a double digit lead 45-35 at halftime.

Without their leading scorer Zach Randolph, Memphis has had little inside presence against the Spurs and looked like a different team from the one that eliminated the Spurs last season.

During the second half, San Antonio never let up.

Some of the keys to this victory was the Spurs’ controlling the boards, sharing the ball better and their defense on Memphis’ Rudy Gay.

The Spurs simply out-rebounded and out-dished the Grizzlies.

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Amnesty cuts: Who could be on the chopping block?

Last week, it was reported that an amnesty provision could be a part of the new labor agreement. With that in mind, it would be interesting to talk about on which players should be released by their NBA teams once the provsion takes effect.

Here’s how each Southwest division teams could use their amnesty clause.

DALLAS MAVERICKS

Brendan Haywood. The Mavericks are set to pay Haywood $45.4 million through 2016 for being a backup center.

Tyson Chandler has done a great job on the middle, helping the Mavs win their first NBA title. With former Spur Ian Mahinmi in tow, I believe Haywood is dispensable.

SAN ANTONIO SPURS

I don’t hate Richard Jefferson, but should the Spurs elect to use their amnesty provision this one is a “no-brainer”, Jefferson should be the one to cut. He is set to make $9.3 million, $10.1 million, and $11 million over the next three years.

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Parker: “This was our last chance”

During a recent interview in Paris with L’Equipe and other French journalists earlier this week, Tony Parker gave his assessment about the San Antonio Spurs’ future.

Parker said that he doesn’t think the current makeup of the Spurs roster will be able to contend for a fifth NBA title. (Hat tip to SportsbyBrooks)

“I don’t think this current team will play for the title in the future,” Parker said. “We are aging. We must be realistic. It was sort of our last chance this season.”

Parker believes that the Spurs' title chances with the current lineup is gone.

Parker was direct in his statement about the Spurs. A team who finished with a 61-21 record and entered the postseason as the number 1 seed in the West was eliminated in the first round of the NBA playoffs by the Memphis Grizzlies.

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Thunder struck the Grizzlies in Game 7

Led by these young trio, the Oklahoma City Thunder ousted a tough Memphis Grizzlies team in Game 7 of the Western Conference Semifinals

Kevin Durant scored 39 points on 13-of-25 shooting from the floor, consistently attacking the Memphis Grizzlies’ defense.

Russell Westbrook, had his first playoff triple double with 14 points, 14 assists and 10 rebounds and James Harden added 17 points on 6-of-10 shooting off the bench as the Oklahoma City Thunder advanced to the Western Conference Finals to face the Dallas Mavericks in a best-of-seven series.

Westbrook’s triple double performance was the first in Game 7 since Scottie Pippen did it in 1992.

How the Spurs’ season was lost?

This season has been odd for the San Antonio Spurs. One year ago, they where limping into the playoffs finished as the seventh seed. They upset the Dallas Mavericks before being swept by the Phoenix Suns in the Western Conference Semifinals.

This year, with little lineup changes, the Spurs came out of the gates blazing finishing the regular season with 61-21 record as the number one seed in the Western Conference.

It’s not a stretch to say they dominated the regular season for quite a while. But like every team, the Spurs had some concerns. They relied on offense for the most part of the season, and never played the kind of defense they once had.

The same defense that won them four NBA championships.

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Spurs vs. Grizzlies: By the Numbers

The San Antonio Spurs beat the Grizzlies 110-103 in overtime to force another game in Memphis.

The Memphis Grizzlies are waiting, eager to play, and wanting to end their playoff series with the Spurs in six games.

The Grizzlies will rely on their youth, toughness and grit and a home crowd that gave them a huge lift in their first two playoff wins at the FedExForum.

The Spurs will use their experience and will power to survive. The playoffs is about hitting big shots, exploiting matchups, and making adjustments on the fly.

But what are the keys for the Spurs and the Grizzlies to win in Game 6? In my opinion, the best way to analyze this series is to go by the numbers.

Let’s check out some stats.

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The Spurs lives another day!

The San Antonio Spurs tried to pull away early as Tim Duncan began the game in vintage playoff form, scoring scored 11 points in the first nine minutes helping the Spurs build an early double-digit lead.

However, the Memphis Grizzlies would not go easy away that easily. They came back roaring and led 68-65 entering the fourth period.

From there, it’s was a frantic finish.

With the Spurs down 95-92, Manu Ginobili made a tough two-pointer with 2.2 seconds left.

Zach Randolph stretched the Grizzlies’ lead back to three with two free throws on the ensuing possession.

The Spurs were almost done. With 1.7 seconds left in regulation, they needed a 3-pointer to send the game into over time.

And with their season on the line, instead of Manu, Parker or Duncan taking the final shot, the Spurs turned to rookie Gary Neal.

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Desperate measures for desperate times

The San Antonio Spurs will host the Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday night at the AT&T Center down 1-3.

Facing elimination, the Spurs must do all they can to win Game 5 and force another game in Memphis.

But it won’t be easy. The Grizzlies proved to be tougher, more physical and more aggressive in their first four outings.

It’s not just about discovering a new way to run the plays and make shots. It’s about finding a way to match the Grizzlies youthful exuberance and energy.

That is why the Spurs should try to go out of their comfort zone and coach Gregg Popovich should be more creative.

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Spurs must make a final stand

The San Antonio Spurs had one of their best regular seasons in franchise history. They led the league for the most part of the season and finished as the number one seed in the Western Conference.

They started out fast and strong but as the post season approaches, they were limping. Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili both suffered significant injuries heading into the playoffs.

In their first-round series against a tough Grizzlies squad, Duncan looked slower while Ginobili kept playing with a huge arm brace to protect his ailing elbow.

Am I using this an excuse on why the Spurs are down 1-3 against Memphis? Hardly. The playoffs is all about the players rising to the occasion  and bringing their game to the next level.

In the first four games of the series, the Spurs had nothing. They won Game 2 on sheer will and maybe a few bounces that went their way.

Memphis on the other hand, had played like they have something to prove. They are the aggressor, and are bullying the Spurs with toughness.

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