The Spurs coasted through the regular season until a spate of injuries interrupted the most consistent starting lineup in the NBA. Suddenly, one game into the postseason, the Spurs find themselves in the rare position of being up against the wall.
The Western Conference's top-seeded team opened the playoffs against the No. 8-seed Memphis Grizzles without All-Star shooting guard Manu Ginobili (sprained right elbow), and San Antonio, which won 61 games in the regular season, paid the price, losing the game and giving up home-court advantage.
"Tough loss," Spurs point guard Tony Parker said. "We had it at the end and we just couldn't make the shots that we needed and the stops that we needed in the end. We fought back, Matty (Bonner) made two big threes, we had a good lead, and it just didn't happen. It didn't go our way."
The Spurs have two days to let the Game 1 loss sink in before trying to even up the series on Wednesday. Games 3 and 4 will be at Memphis. The Grizzlies seemed to be trying to position themselves down the stretch of the regular season to face the Spurs in the first round.
Memphis believed its interior size with Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol to be an advantage against Tim Duncan and an otherwise undersized front line for San Antonio. The theory played out in Game 1 as forward Zach Randolph and center Marc Gasol combined for 49 points and 23 rebounds.
"We know they're good in the paint," Duncan said. "They're an inside team and they're a big team. They're going to challenge every shot we take. We gave ourselves the opportunity by attacking and going to the iron. All in all, our game plan went the way we wanted it to, we just didn't finish."
The four-time champion Spurs won't panic. They've come back from an 0-1 deficit to win a series six times, including last season when they lost Game 1 to the Dallas Mavericks and won the series in six games.
The only difference was the Game 1 loss was not on their home court.
GRIZZLIES 101, SPURS 98: San Antonio forward Matt Bonner made consecutive three-pointers to give San Antonio the lead, but Memphis forward Shane Battier, a former Grizzlies player who was re-acquired earlier in the season from the Houston Rockets, buried a go-ahead three-pointer with 23.9 seconds to go. Richard Jefferson missed a wide-open three-pointer in the final seconds that would have sent the game to overtime. The Spurs had no answer for Grizzlies forward Zach Randolph, who finished with 25 points and 13 rebounds. Center Marc Gasol had 24 points and nine rebounds. Tony Parker led six Spurs in double-figures with 20 points and five assists. Tim Duncan had 16 points and 13 rebounds.
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