Instant analysis: How the Spurs evened the series

Here’s a look at how the Spurs turned around after a struggling first half to claim a gritty 93-87 victory over Memphis Wednesday night. 

Game analysis: After struggling defending Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol in the paint in Game 1, the Spurs did a better collective effort against the Grizzlies’ “Twin Towers,” limiting them to 23 points after they scored 49 points in the playoff opener.  The Spurs took a collaborative approach as almost every San Antonio big player rotated against them, with a key finishing effort by Antonio McDyess on Randolph down the stretch.   

How the game was won: The Spurs turned on the defense down the stretch, allowing Memphis to score only one basket during a span of nearly four minutes late in the fourthh quarter when their 12-4 run put the game away. And after a struggling team performance from the foul line earlier in the game, George Hill sank six foul shots in the final 5:08, including four in the final 12.3 seconds to ice the victory.  

Player of the game:  Manu Ginobili could barely lift his right elbow with a bulky brace attached to it, but still provided another memorable performance playing through an injury. His 17 points Wednesday night really don’t do justice to his influence as he also provided seven rebounds, four assists, four steals and blocked a shot for good measure. His shooting numbers weren’t good but the surge of energy he provided to his team helped give them a lift they desparately needed. He finished with a team-best plus-16 in plus/minus.

Player of the game II: After scoring only two points in the first half,  Hill gave his team a lift by scoring 14 of his 16 points after the break. He was clutch from the foul line and also hit a couple of crucial 3-pointers that helped him turn around his game after a struggling 1-for-5 start from the field in the first half. Hill also provided five rebounds, four assists and two steals as he gave the Spurs a lift off the bench. The Spurs are a better team when Hill is provided a boost from the bench rather than starting. They missed that lift in Game 1.   

Most unsung player: McDyess had a struggling start in the first three quarters as he looked lost at times trying to contain Randolph and Gasol. But the Spurs’ oldest player provided a lift down the stretch as he forced Randolph to miss his final three shots — a 2-foot layup, a 6-foot jumper and a 3-foot layup as the Spurs pulled away to the victory.

Quote of the day: “Manu is Manu. He could be in a body cast and he’s still gonna make plays,” Memphis forward Shane Battier on the return of Ginobili to the Spurs’ lineup 

Quote of the day II: ”Memphis, they love to play physical. They’re like the old Utah. They’re going to foul and grab and they’re great at it,” Spurs guard Tony Parker on the Grizzlies’ physical defense.

Quote of the day III: “They clogged the paint up. They came at us from the weak side every time. They said, ‘Well, if you guys are going to beat us, you’re going to beat us with something else,”‘  Gasol, on San Antonio’s defensive strategy in Game 2.

Stat of the game: Memphis shot 39.8 percent from the field Wednesday after shooting 55.2 percent from the field in Game 1. Since 2004, the Spurs  have limited playoff opponents to less than 40 percent shooting in 15 games. They are 14-1 in those games.

Stat of the game II: Randolph and Gasol combined to hit 7-for-23 from the field (30.4 percent). They hit 19-for-25 from the field (76 percent) in Game 1.

Curious stat of the game: San Antonio had 19 turnovers in the game, compared to 15 for Memphis. But the Spurs turnovers led to 13 Memphis points, compared to 26 points coming from Memphis’ miscues.

Injuries: Ginobili returned to the lineup despite a sprained right elbow. He was not as effective as normal, but still helped lead San Antonio to the victory.

Turning around the first-game struggles: The Spurs have lost six consecutive Game 1 in the playoffs. They are 3-3 in second games after those early losses.

Regular season vs. playoffs: After hitting 47.5 percent from the field and averaging 103.7 points per game during the regular season, the Spurs are hitting 42.0 percent from the field in the playoffs and averaging 95.5 points per game after two games with the Grizzlies. Memphis is shooting 46.5 percent in the playoffs and averaging 94.0 points in the playoffs, compared to 47.1 percent and 99.9 points in the regular season.

What it means: San Antonio grabbed a crucial victory that evened the series. But the young Grizzlies leave San Antonio with homecourt advantage as they head home for what undoubtedly will be the biggest game in franchise history on Saturday night at the FedExForum with a chance to snatch control of the series.

The numbers say: After splitting the first two games of a playoff series, the Spurs are 12-13 in those series (48.0 percent) in their previous history. But since 2003, they have won seven of their last nine series after starting 1-1.

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