via LA Times
The San Antonio Spurs’ vaunted triumvirate Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker have been the embodiment of championship poise. Every playoff appearance (and they’ve had the longest streak of that) makes them even more deadly. It seems the only one who can beat them is Father Time. But basing on their performances this post season, Father Time has been whipped. Tim Duncan, at 37 is playing masterful ball even against the gritty Grizzlies frontline duo. Tony Parker has been running rings around the Grizzlies guards. The Spurs have seamless chemistry and it’s a blend that’s hard to beat.
per LA Times:
Parker continually befuddled the Grizzlies with steely jumpers and smart passes and brazen drives, leading the San Antonio Spurs to a sweep-sealing 93-86 victory Monday night at FedExForum in Game 4 of the Western Conference finals.
The veteran point guard had 37 points, six assists and four rebounds in another vintage performance, shrugging off a blow to the face by Marc Gasol midway through the fourth quarter that briefly knocked him out of the game.
Gasol hit Parker with his follow-through while trying to block a shot, sending him to the court in a heap in front of courtside fans. Parker returned to score the Spurs’ final six points on a jumper and four free throws, including a pair with 29 seconds left that extended San Antonio’s lead to 91-86.
San Antonio is headed back to the Finals for the first time since it won the last of its four titles in 2007 by sweeping LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers. It could be a rematch of sorts as James’ Miami Heat holds a 2-1 lead over the Indiana Pacers in the Eastern Conference finals.
The Spurs figure to have an extended rest before opening the Finals, which could certainly benefit their aging core.
They will reach basketball’s biggest stage with considerable momentum. Parker, Tim Duncan andManu Ginobili are playing as well collectively as they have in their 11 seasons together and up-and-comers Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green are providing consistent contributions.
Duncan had 15 points and eight rebounds and Leonard added 11 points, six rebounds and five steals.
San Antonio again excelled on the defensive end, frustrating Gasol and Zach Randolph into subpar shooting performances. Gasoil had 14 points on five-for-12 shooting and Randolph had 13 points on four-for-13 shooting.
There was drama, if only in a few pockets.
The Grizzlies had a crowd that had been deflated for much of the game rocking late in the third quarter. Guard Quincy Pondexter came off the bench to score 12 points of his team-high 22 points and Randolph returned from a nearly seven-minute exile to the bench to score over Tiago Splitter to pull Memphis to within 69-66.
But Leonard made a three-pointer and Randolph missed a pair of free throws to tilt the momentum back in the Spurs’ favor.
San Antonio met little resistance getting easy baskets in the first half. Parker, Splitter and Cory Joseph had unfettered access to the lane for layups as the Spurs forged leads as large as 12 points.
Randolph had another inexplicably bad performance in the early going, botching consecutive gimmes around the basket early in the second quarter almost immediately after Gasol had missed a driving layup.
One sequence finally went the Grizzlies’ way late in the first half. San Antonio’s Matt Bonner could not inbound the ball within five seconds, leading to a turnover, and Memphis guard Jerryd Bayless made a three-pointer to pull the Grizzlies to within 44-38 at halftime.
Memphis Coach Lionel Hollins had vowed before the game to stick with the starting lineup that had helped his team make the deepest playoff run in franchise history, even if it also led to a series of losses against the Spurs.
“We are who we are,” he said, “and if it’s not good enough it won’t be good enough.”