Grizzlies forward Shane Battier was the appropriate guy to make history for Memphis on Sunday.
Battier, the only original Memphis Grizzly in uniform, hit a go-ahead three-pointer with 23.9 seconds left. The Grizzlies closed the opening game of the Western Conference playoffs on a 7-0 run to record a 101-98 victory at San Antonio for their first playoff win in the franchise's history.
In a jubilant, yet restrained locker room afterward, there were 12 Grizzlies who were 1-0 in the playoffs wearing a Memphis jersey. Then there was the 13th player, Battier, with a 1-12 Grizzlies postseason ledger, proud to finally deliver the playoff win after all these years.
"I'm real happy for the city, Beale Street will really be pumping," said Battier, traded back to Memphis in February after being traded draft night in July '06 to the Rockets where he played 4-1/2 seasons. "Most of the guys don't understand the history and the heartache the city has gone through.
"This is awesome, but I didn't win this game. This was a perfect team win."
GRIZZLIES 101, SPURS 98: The Grizzlies had a death-grip on the first-half pace, which is why Memphis led 45-43 at the break. The only reason San Antonio kept from totally disappearing -- it trailed by as many as seven points -- was Tim Duncan. He consistently faked mid-range jumpers, got by Marc Gasol and got to the basket. San Antonio's energy and urgency out of the locker room after halftime was evident. The Spurs kept the Grizzlies on their heels the entire period, with Tony Parker continually attacking the goal. It's why San Antonio went 16-of-19 from the free throw line in the quarter to a 74-70 lead into the third quarter. It looked as if the Grizzlies 0-for-12 playoff drought would be extended after Memphis lead of 92-85 with 4:05 left to play dissipated into a 98-94 deficit with 1:04 left. The Grizzlies missed four straight free throws and somehow left open the Spurs' Matt Bonner for a pair of top-of-the-key three-pointers. But the Grizzlies didn't fold. Gasol scored inside with 56.7 seconds left and Parker missed a jumper with 31.9 seconds left, setting up Battier's game-winning shot.
Copyright (C) 2011 The Sports Xchange. All Rights Reserved.