The San Antonio Spurs finally saw the rough and tough Memphis Grizzlies from the regular season in the second half on Monday night. However, Kawhi Leonard would not allow his team to fall on his home floor.
Leonard scored a playoff career-high 37 points as he helped the Spurs hold off a late surge from the Grizzlies for a 96-82 win in Game 2 of their first round playoff series.
Tony Parker added 15 points and LaMarcus Aldridge added 11 for San Antonio, who took a two-game lead in the series as the scene shifts to Memphis for Game’s three and four.
“I’m just happy we got a win tonight,” Leonard said. “For Game 3, we need to limit turnovers, execute on offense, defense and bring the right energy.”
The Grizzlies were led by Mike Conley’s 24 points. Zach Randolph added 18 points and Marc Gasol chipped 12 points after going for 32 in Game 1.
Memphis trailed by as many as 22, but used a strong second half to cut into the deficit. The Grizzlies outscored the Spurs 28-16 in the third quarter and would cut the lead to just five in the fourth quarter. But Leonard and the Silver and Black were too much for the visitors.
However, the calls – or lack their of – sent Memphis coach Dave Fizdale into a postgame rant about the officials. Which is sure to see a fine tomorrow morning. San Antonio went to the free throw line a total of 32 times compared to the Grizzlies’ 15.
”We don’t get the respect that these guys deserve because Mike Conley doesn’t go crazy, he has class and he just plays the game,” Fizdale said. ”But I’m not going to let them treat us that way. I know (Spurs coach Gregg Popovich has) got pedigree and I’m a young rookie, but they are not going to rook us. That’s unacceptable, that was unprofessional. My guys dug in that game and earned the right to be in that game, and they did not even give us a chance.”
Perfect from the stripe: Leonard went 19-for-19 in Game 2 from the free throw line, en route to his playoff career high in points.
Up next: The Spurs lead the best-of-seven series 2-0 and will look to take a commanding lead in the series in Memphis for Game 3 on Thursday night at 8:30 p.m.