By Paul J. Weber/The Associated Press
SAN ANTONIO — The Memphis Grizzlies own the first upset of the NBA playoffs, and they made history in the process.
Zach Randolph had 25 points and 14 rebounds, and Shane Battier hit the go-ahead 3-pointer with 23.9 seconds left, and the eighth-seeded Grizzlies won the first playoff game in franchise history, 101-98 over the San Antonio Spurs on Sunday.
Randolph, who scored nine in the fourth quarter and punished San Antonio under the basket, might have saved his hardest contact for a chest bump with Mike Conley after the final buzzer. The rest of the Grizzlies bench spilled onto the court, waving towels and leaping back into the locker room.
Memphis began the playoffs with the motto “Let’s Make History,” and it needed just one game to do it. Sixteen years after the franchise debuted in Vancouver, the Grizzlies finally savored their first playoff win in 13 tries.
The top-seeded Spurs didn’t stick around to watch Memphis celebrate. San Antonio had a chance to force overtime, but Richard Jefferson missed an open 3-pointer as time expired.
Tony Parker led the Spurs with 20 points, but they sorely missed All-Star Manu Ginobili, who continued to rest his sprained right elbow. Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said Ginobili begged to play, and it’s safe bet the All-Star won’t have to convince Popovich for Game 2 on Wednesday.
The Grizzlies spent the week insisting they didn’t tank their final two games to assure they’d get the Spurs. But the way Randolph and Marc Gasol bullied San Antonio in the frontcourt, Memphis showed that San Antonio isn’t such a bad matchup.
Gasol had 24 points and nine rebounds. Conley scored 15 points and had 10 assists, and O.J. Mayo had 13 points off the bench.
Tim Duncan had 16 points and 10 rebounds for the Spurs, who lost their sixth straight playoff series opener.
And watching this latest one on the bench was Ginobili.
The Spurs listed him as doubtful entering Sunday. But between the 33-year-old practicing a day earlier and his teammates convinced he would play, seeing Ginobili in lineup wouldn’t have been much of a stretch. Instead, Spurs coach Gregg Popovich played it safe.
“You know (darn) well he’s not happy with me. And you know (darn) well he wants to be on that court,” Popovich said before tip-off. “But I made my decision.”
Popovich wouldn’t speculate whether Ginobili might play in Game 2 on Wednesday.
The Spurs badly missed him. George Hill started in Ginobili’s place but went just 2 of 7 from the floor and finished with 15 points. The NBA’s top 3-point shooting team also suffered without Ginobili’s range and penetration to draw in perimeter defenders.
The Spurs were 6 of 15 from behind the 3-point line. Matt Bonner hit two of those in the final 2:09, his second one putting San Antonio ahead 96-94 with 1:28 remaining.
But the veteran and four-time champion Spurs couldn’t close against the inexperienced Grizzlies, who have just four players on their roster with playoff experience.
It’s only the fourth playoff series in franchise history for Memphis, and its first appearance since being swept out of the first round in 2006.
Notes: The Spurs used a rotation of just eight players. Among those who didn’t play was rookie 7-footer Tiago Splitter. …The Grizzlies are now 3-2 against the Spurs this season.