SAN ANTONIO — No lead can be too big in the NBA playoffs.
The San Antonio Spurs found that out Tuesday, but they received enough from Tony Parker and Tim Duncan to record a hard-fought win.
Parker notched 15 points and a playoff-career-high 18 assists to lead the Spurs to a 93-89 overtime win against the Memphis Grizzlies in Game 2 of the Western Conference finals Tuesday night.
The Spurs, who led by 18 points in the second half, emerged with a 2-0 lead in the series. Game 3 will be Saturday in Memphis.
“They just made a run,” Parker said of the Grizzlies’ fourth-quarter comeback. “It’s hard to keep a lead against a very good team. It’s the NBA. It’s the Western Conference finals. Stuff like that is going to happen.”
San Antonio led 83-70 with less than eight minutes remaining before Memphis went on a 15-2 run to pull even.
The margin was down to 85-81 before a Grizzlies steal forced Manu Ginobili into a flagrant foul 1 on Tony Allen with 26.1 left in regulation.
Allen made both free throws, and Mike Conley tied the game at 85 with a right-handed floater from seven feet with 18.2 seconds left.
Tim Duncan’s turnaround jumper bounced off the rim at the buzzer, sending the game to overtime.
Duncan scored the Spurs’ first six points in overtime, giving San Antonio a 91-87 lead with 1:07 remaining.
“Obviously, (Duncan) took over for us in that overtime scoring-wise, did a great job,” said Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, who is now 2-1 in overtime playoff games. “Just took it upon himself to be aggressive, and it helped us win.”
The Spurs appeared ready to put the Grizzlies away until Jerryd Bayless’ jumper pulled Memphis within 91-89 with 16.9 seconds to go in OT.
Parker and Cory Joseph each hit one of two free throws down the stretch to give the Spurs the win.
San Antonio had all five starters score in double figures, with Duncan contributing 17 points, Tiago Splitter scoring 14, Kawhi Leonard 12 and Danny Green 11. The Spurs shot 43.4 percent from the field.
Conley and Bayless each had 18 to lead the Grizzlies. Zach Randolph had 15 points and 18 rebounds, rebounding from a two-point performance in Game 1. He shot 3-for-8 from the free throw line. Marc Gasol added 12 points and 14 rebounds.
Memphis made just 34% of its shots from the floor.
“Well, I can be comfortable with the team,” Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins said. “We lost, we’re down 0-2, but we played like us again. We just have to find a way to score earlier so they don’t get out on us as far as they did and we have to battle back.”
Early on, San Antonio again forced its game plan on the Grizzlies with precision ball movement and 3-point shooting in a first-half assault on the NBA’s best defense.
The Spurs handed out an efficient 16 first-half assists on 18 field goals, with Parker getting eight of them.
The Spurs started off hot, hitting four 3-pointers in the second quarter to jump-start a 15-3 run that ended with Duncan hitting two free throws with 16.5 seconds left in the half. San Antonio led 46-31 at the break.
San Antonio’s defence stepped up and held the Grizzlies to one point, a free throw in the final second by Bayless, in the last 4:44 of the half.
Memphis shot 26% in the first half, leaving the Grizzlies grasping for answers.
“We were breaking down too easily,” Gasol said on his team’s first-half play. “But it’s a great team. We’ve got to give them credit. They do what they do, and they’re good for a reason. But we’ve got to take some stuff away in order to be able to beat them.”
Memphis outrebounded San Antonio 60-46, but the Spurs blocked 12 shots to the Grizzlies’ six.