The All-Star guard put the Spurs on his shoulders after an injury sidelined Parker for the second half, scoring 18 of his season-high 35 points in the fourth quarter to rally the San Antonio Spurs to a 95-88 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies on Sunday night.
The Spurs overcame the loss of Parker and improved their NBA-best record to 49-10, tying a single-season franchise record with their 21st straight home victory.
Ginobili knew that points were going to be tough to come by in the second half against a very physical Grizzlies team, especially without Parker running the offense.
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"I knew it was going to be a long night," Ginobili said. "They are tough defensively. They grab and push, and are very physical. After we couldn't score a field goal in eight minutes," we knew it was going to get tough. We knew we had to attack that defense to get to the line and get some of those missing points."
Parker left with a left calf injury after he collided with Grizzlies guard Mike Conley with 2:45 remaining in the second quarter. Parker didn't return in the second half, and will be examined on Monday. His status is day-to-day.
Zach Randolph had 24 points and 17 rebounds for Memphis, while Conley scored nine of his 19 points in the fourth while trying to match Ginobili.
"It's very difficult to guard someone like him because he's very good with his body, he's very good with his footwork," he said. "He's able to get his body in good positions to where he can draw fouls. You can get up on him, but you don't really want to get up on him cause he's going to draw the foul. You just try to contain him and get in front of him as much as you can."
Ginobili made the go-ahead layup with 1:15 left and the Spurs put it away from the line, as he made a pair with 16 seconds remaining to make cap an 8-0 run and make it 92-85.
The Spurs got three stops in a row after Ginobili's go-ahead basket.
"In the fourth quarter, there's always going to be a period where you want to get stops on demand and we were able to do that tonight," coach Gregg Popovich said. "It fuels our offense; if you don't get the break at least you have a chance to get the ball in the hands of the people you want it in."
Memphis coach Lionel Hollins said the tide turned for the Grizzlies when the Spurs started knocking down long-range shots.
"They just made plays. We didn't get defensive rebounds and they kept making plays," Hollins said. "They made a lot of 3s. We had a long battle to come back from 20 points down. We had the lead and were playing with a three, four, five-point lead and we turned the ball over a couple of times and they got right down and hit 3s."
Memphis missed 15 of its first 18 shots as the Spurs led 26-16 after the first. Tim Duncan, who finished with 12 points, blocked five shots, including three straight on Randolph early in the first.
That solid interior defense helped the Spurs build a 20-point lead with 4:54 left in the second before the Grizzlies cut that to eight with a 14-2 run after Parker went out.
Conley said his team never got down after falling behind early to one of the NBA's best teams.
"Just playing with energy," Conley said. "They fight and we had do that in order to get back in the game; be more physical, try to draw fouls, try to get into the paint and get to the line."
The Grizzlies extended their run to 32-8 in the third, holding the Spurs to one field goal in the period until Matt Bonner's 3-pointer with 3:15 left in the third.
"It was a big relief for us when Matt hit that shot," Ginobili said. "We couldn't score anything and that 3-pointer gave us a big boost of energy.
A pair of 3-pointers by Bonner at the end of the third help the Spurs pull within 63-59. San Antonio opened the fourth with a 3-pointer by Richard Jefferson and two by Bonner to take a 68-67 lead.
The Spurs will play the second of a home-and-home series with the Grizzlies on Tuesday, and Ginobili expects the game to be even more of a challenge.
"It is going to be even rougher," Ginobili said. "We have to see how Tony is. When Tony is on the court, the whole dynamic of the team changes. He's so good at breaking the first line and finding open teammates or finishing. If he's not there, we're going to have to find a way to get some transition points because we're not getting many."
Ginobili had noticeable blackness under his right eye, which was due to contact with Randolph in the third, where the Spurs guard fell to the court after trying to fight off a screen. Ginobili lay on the court for a minute before continuing the game.
Bonner and George Hill each finished with 14 points for the Spurs.
- The Spurs are one victory away from winning 50-plus games for the 12th consecutive season, tying the Los Angeles Lakers (1979-80 to 1990-91) for the longest streak in NBA history.
- The game was suspended with 4:40 left in the first quarter after Memphis' Tony Allen collided with official Tommy Nunez Jr., who laid on the ground for several minutes before continuing the rest of the half. Nunez Jr. didn't return in the second half.