Game rewind: Duncan turns back clock for another vintage effort

Tim Duncan used to be able to carry the Spurs in a manner befitting one of the greatest power forwards in NBA history.

Those glimpses don’t come along as often as they used to. And when they do, they assuredly are something special for Spurs Nation to savor.

Duncan had one of those games Monday night in the Spurs’ 89-84 victory over Memphis, dominating the game inside in the fourth quarter to help nail down the Spurs’ season-best fifth consecutive victory.

“Tim has been playing well lately. He’s feeling good,” Spurs point guard Tony Parker told  reporters after the game. “His knee is doing well. Hopefully, he will stay like that.”

The Spurs captain produced 19 points and 17 rebounds to lead the Spurs’ victory.

” That’s a great game from Timmy — 19 and 17,” Parker said, chuckling. “Those are big numbers at 45 years old.”

Duncan, who will turn 36 on April 26, isn’t quite there yet.

And thankfully for his team, he can still occasionally provide the kind of lift that used to be expected.

Here are a few other highlights from the first game of the Spurs’ Rodeo Road Trip.  

The game, simply stated: The Spurs employed a tenacious defensive effort and big games from Parker and Duncan to win at Memphis for the second Monday night in a row against the tired Grizzlies.

Where the game was won: After Memphis jumped on the Spurs for a 25-6 run to end the third quarter and claim a six-point lead, the Spurs defense picked up. San Antonio limited  Memphis to a season-low 11 points in the fourth quarter as the Grizzlies shot only 20 percent from the field.

Closing it out: The Spurs took the lead for good on Parker’s layup with 5:10 left. After Memphis had closed within one when Danny Green was whistled for goaltending on O.J. Mayo’s short jumper, Mayo missed the enusing foul shot. Duncan then put the game away with a critical three-point play and a dunk that iced the victory.

Player of the game I: It was just like old times for Duncan, who provided 19 points, and season-best totals for the Spurs of 17 rebounds and five blocks. He was especially big in the fourth quarter with nine points, seven rebounds and two blocks to lead the comeback.

Player of the game II: Parker struggled a little in the second half with only six points, but he still finished with team-high totals of 21 points and seven assists.

Player of the game III:  Memphis center Marc Gasol bounced  back after a struggling performance Sunday in Boston to lead the Grizzlies with 22 points and nine rebounds. He had as many turnovers  as points — seven — in the Grizzlies’ loss to the Celtics.

Most unsung: Matt Bonner came off the bench to score eight points and provide three rebounds. And he even came up with some strong defense by running at Rudy Gay’s potential game-tying 3-pointer with 8.9 seconds left.

Attendance: Is some of the bloom off the Grizzlies after their recent struggles that has seen them lose seven of their last nine games? The game attracted a crowd of 13,527 to the FedEx Forum — Memphis’ second-smallest crowd of the season and nearly 1,600 below the crowd the Spurs attracted for a game against them seven nights ago on a similar Monday night.   

Did you notice I: Mike Conley’s bank-shot 3-pointer was an answer to a Memphis prayer with 1:10 left to pull them within 87-84. The best show of emotion after that shot by a Spur came by Manu Ginobili, who fell back in his chair in amazement after the lucky shot.

Did you notice II: After failing to play in the first three quarters, Gregg Popovich turned to James Anderson for 7:35 in the fourth quarter. Anderson botched a layup, but later provided a critical 3-pointer that helped kick-start the Spurs offense.

Stat of the game:  The Spurs limited Memphis to 11 points in the fourth quarter. It was the Grizzlies’ lowest scoring quarter of the season and the lowest scoring quarter for a Spurs’ opponent.

Stat of the game II: Duncan grabbed 17 rebounds to set the Spurs season high after grabbing 15 and setting the team’s previous high Saturday night against Oklahoma City. It marked his first back-to-back games with at least 15 rebounds since Dec. 16-Dec. 19, 2009 — a period of more than two years.   

Stat of the game III: Parker scored 21 points to mark the 12th time in the 21 games since Ginobili was injured that Parker has topped 20 points. And with his 42 points against Oklahoma City Saturday night, his 63 points in the last two games are the most in consecutive games  since he went for 69 points in the final two games of the Spurs’ first-round 2009 playoff loss to Dallas.

Stat of the game IV: The Spurs notched 15 assists — tied for their second-lowest total of the season.

Stat of the game V: Sparked by Duncan’s big game inside, the Spurs matched their season high with nine blocked shots. It was previously recorded in their overtime victory over Houston on Jan. 11.

Weird stat of the game: Duncan has blocked at least five shots in 133 playoff and regular season games in his 1,254-game career. His two most recent times before Monday both came against the Grizzlies in games last Feb. 27 and April 23.

Not a good sign: Struggling against Memphis’ ball pressure, the Spurs contributed 19 turnovers to come within one of their season high of 20 against Atlanta on Jan. 25.

Not a good sign II: After hitting their first five 3-pointers of the game Monday, the Spurs finished the game 2 for 11 from beyond the arc.  

Best plus/minus scores: Anderson was plus-9, DeJuan Blair was plus-7 and Duncan was plus-6.

Worst plus/minus scores: Bonner was minus-5 and Kawhi Leonard was minus-4. They were the only Spurs players with negative scores.

Quote of the game: “It was tough. A couple of guys were fatigued from playing a lot of heavy minutes. It was one of those games that slipped away from us,” Gay on the Grizzlies’ late collapse after playing Sunday in Boston.

How the schedule stacks up: The Spurs will continue the Rodeo Road Trip Wednesday night in Philadelphia and Saturday night at New Jersey. The Grizzlies will have their next three games at home as they face Minnesota without Kevin Love on Wednesday, Indiana on Friday and Utah on Sunday.

Injuries: Ginobili missed his 21st game (Spurs record 14-7) after undergoing surgery for a fractured fifth left metacarpal.  T.J. Ford missed his 16th game (Spurs record 11-5) with a torn left hamstring. Memphis played without starting guard Tony Allen, who missed his second game with a sore left hip and knee. Memphis All-Star forward Zach Randolph missed his 21st game (Grizzlies record 11-10) with a torn right MCL. Memphis forward Darrell Arthur (torn right Achilles) is out for the season.

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