On the eighth day, the Grizzlies will rest. With big, big smiles, and a 2-1/2-game lead over the Rockets for the eighth and final Western Conference playoff spot.
In the week that could provide heartache for happiness at the end of a long, hard season for the Grizzlies, they went 4-1 beating Utah at home (a team chasing them in the West), winning at current East No. 2 seed Boston, barely losing two nights later at Eastern Conference leader Boston and coming home to Memphis on Sunday to beat Western Conference leader San Antonio by seven points.
"I said at the start if this week there were a lot of teams beneath us that were looking at us in Boston as a loss, probably looking at Chicago as a loss and San Antonio as a loss," Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins said. "So win 2-of-3, we put a little crinkle in their paper.
"That's what it's all about. Going out there and competing every night."
There's no doubt that last year the Grizzlies would have lost a game like the one they won Sunday over the Spurs. Memphis trailed by five points with 6:14 left, but closed with a 22-10 spurt starting with a 7-0 run.
"Last year, we would have put our head down and let the game slip away," Grizzlies forward Zach Randolph said. "This year, we battle it out. We have more of a defensive mindset to get stops."
The mindset comes from adding more veterans to roster, starting with Tony Allen in the preseason, and Shane Battier, Leon Powe and Jason Williams (though he been sidelined lately with a bad back) in the last month.
"To have veterans who have been there like Tony, Leon, Shane and J-Will helps," Hollins said. "Those guys have been there. They understand what it takes to keep poised. Even if your young guys get rattled, we have veterans telling them, 'Get your head back in it, don't worry about it, do this and do that.' Those are the type of things that keep your club solid."
GRIZZLIES 111, SPURS 104: By the end of the first half, which Memphis led 53-50, there was no doubt this was going to be a fight to the finish. Spurs coach Gregg Popovich got ejected 2:10 before halftime, getting hit with two technical fouls in about five seconds after Spurs' guard Manu Ginobili went crashing to the floor in collision with Grizzlies center Marc Gasol. No foul was called, the Grizzlies scored on a Leon Powe lay-up and Ginobili sustained a thigh contusion that eventually sidelined him for good less than six minutes into the third quarter. The amazing thing is he wasn't missed, because his replacement, George Hill, went off for a career-high 30 points. That kept the Spurs from totally fading away, and Hill and Tony Parker (20 points) even had San Antonio sitting pretty with a five-point lead with 6:14 left. That's before Grizzlies forward Zach Randolph (23 points, 11 rebounds) and guard Tony Allen (23 points, five steals) combined for 20 of Memphis' last 22 points.
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