Spurs’ playoff exit at Memphis ranks as worst memory of year

The Spurs made history in the recent playoffs. Unfortunately for them, it came in a not-so-positive manner.

Their stunning six-game elimination at the hands of the No. 8 seed Memphis Grizzlies ranks as only the fourth time in NBA history a No. 1 seed failed to advance out of the first round.

And their series loss to the Grizzlies ranked as only the second time in NBA history that a No. 1 seed was eliminated in the first round in a best-of-seven series.

The Grizzlies’ series victory wasn’t a fluke. Lionel Hollins’ team outplayed the Spurs throughout and could have eliminated the Spurs a game earlier if it hadn’t been for some late heroics from Gary Neal in Game 5.

Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol continued their domination of the San Antonio players inside in their 99-91 Game 6 victory on April 29 to end the Spurs’ season earlier than anybody would have expected.

The Spurs won 61 games during the regular season — third-highest total in franchise history and more victories than in any of their championship seasons. But they couldn’t overcome the loss of Manu Ginobili for the first game of the series and Memphis’ determination as the Grizzlies claimed their first playoff series victory in the franchise’s history.

Instead, the Spurs were eliminated in the first round for the second time in the last three seasons with an unceremonious ending to what was expected to be a long playoff run.

No. 1:  Z-Bo’s monster fourth quarter caps off stunning first-round series loss to Grizzlies.

When: April 29, 2011

Where: FedExForum, Memphis

What happened: Randolph scored 17 of his 31 points in the fourth quarter to lead the upstart Grizzlies to a 99-91 victory over the Spurs, finishing their six-game series victory. The Spurs claimed their first lead of the game at 80-79 with 4:41 left, but Randolph scored 10 of the next 14 points for Memphis to put the game away.

What was said, Part I: ”They were the better team. They played better than we did in the stretch of six games,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich on Memphis’ play during the series.

What was said, Part II: ”We played well all season long. It doesn’t mean anything if you don’t play well in the playoffs,” Spurs guard Tony Parker, describing his emotion to the Express-News after the series completed.

What was said, Part III: “Not a lot of people knew about us coming in, but we certainly have made some noise and turned some heads and got some attention that probably wouldn’t have been given to us if we’d lost this series. We’d just be another eight seed losing to the No. 1 seed,” Hollins, on his team’s improbable series victory.

What was said, Part IV: ”From a pick-me-up perspective, we just got on his back, and we rode him like he was an English warhorse. He was really carrying us, We were just hanging on,” Hollins on Randolph’s fourth-quarter effort.

What was said, Part V: “Emotion is high, not just for the Memphis Grizzlies but for the whole city of Memphis and the fans. It’s something. It’s a great accomplishment,” Randolph, reflecting on the first series victory in franchise history. Before the series, the Grizzlies had never won a playoff game.

GAME  NOTES: The Spurs’ loss finished off their second series loss in the first round in the last three seasons. The Spurs led only twice in Game 6, 2-0 after Tony Parker’s early basket and 80-79 on Antonio McDyess’ jumper with 4:41 left. After San Antonio’s first basket of the game, the Grizzlies answered with 14 straight points on a spurt that boosted them to the lead for the rest of the next three-plus quarters. The Grizzlies led 28-16 after one quarter as the Spurs committed six turnovers. But Tim Duncan helped spark a late run at the end of the half, providing a rim-rattling dunk that pulled the Spurs within 46-43 at the break. But Memphis’ strong duo of Randolph and Gasol enabled Memphis to notch a series-best 62 points in the paint in the game and outrebound the Spurs 43-32.  The Grizzlies had a 22-12 edge in free throws and continued their strong defense that snuffed out the Spurs’ perimeter game. San Antonio hit only 5-for-22 from beyond the arc (22.7 percent). One of the few that fell for the Spurs in this game was a shot from halfcourt by Ginobili that pulled the Spurs within 70-66 after three quarters. Parker had 23 points, Ginobili added 16 and Duncan had 12 points and 10 rebounds for the Spurs. Richard Jefferson was shut out, marking the second time he failed to score in the final three games of the series. Before the series, the Grizzlies had never won a playoff game in three previous series. Against the Spurs, they won four games in a span of 13 days.

Previous bad memories:

No. 10: .

No. 9: Black Friday fourth-quarter collapse against Dallas helps snap Spurs’ .  

No. 8: : Spurs blown out by Orlando by 22.

No. 7: Lowly Clips to Spurs.

No. 6:  Heat’sfrom 30-point loss 10 days earlier.

No. 5: Blowout loss to Lakers .

No. 4: Duncan’s ankle injury.  

No.3: Manu injures elbow in.

No. 2: Grizzlies stun Spurs in Game 1 .  

Previous good memories:

No. 10: .

No. 9: boosts comeback victory over Thunder.

No. 8: leads overtime victory over Memphis.

No. 7:boosts Spurs past Warriors.

No. 6: TD becomesin one game.

No. 5:with record 3-point binge.

No. 4: Pop passes Auerbach on.

No. 3: McDyess’ tip over Lakers.

No. 2: “Big Three” erupts for 80 as .

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