The Memphis Grizzlies called their woeful performance against San Antonio in the opener of the Western Conference finals an aberration. It wasn't their brand of basketball, they said. Things would change, they insisted.
It was all talk for much of Game 2 on Tuesday night — until the Grizzlies looked like their old selves, forcing overtime with a furious fourth-quarter rally.
Ultimately, it fell short.
Tony Parker had 15 points and a career playoff-high 18 assists, Tim Duncan scored San Antonio's first six points of overtime and the Spurs bounced back after squandering a 13-point lead in the fourth quarter to beat the Grizzlies 93-89 for a 2-0 series lead.
Game 3 is Saturday in Memphis, where the Grizzlies are 5-0 this postseason.
"Well, I can be comfortable with the team," Memphis 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. But we battled back."
The Grizzlies stormed back with a 15-2 run over the final 8 minutes of regulation to tie it at 85 on Mike Conley's runner in the lane with 18.2 seconds to play. Memphis got the chance to pull even after Manu Ginobili was called for a flagrant foul for pulling down Tony Allen by his left arm on a fast-break layup attempt.
Allen hit both free throws and Memphis got possession, setting up Conley's tying basket at the end of a string of seven straight Grizzlies points.
But Memphis, which trailed by as much as 18 in the second half, could never pull ahead.
"We got back into the game because we got stops," Grizzlies center Marc Gasol said. "If you don't stop that team and they score 100 and some points, like they were on pace to, you don't have a chance."
Memphis held San Antonio to 4-for-18 shooting in the fourth, outscoring the Spurs 21-9 in the quarter to force overtime. Parker missed his last five shots, enabling the Grizzlies to tie the game.
"This probably is what we looked like all year long if you haven't seen us play," Hollins said. "We scratch and claw and we find a way to get something working and we get back in the games, and we usually find a way to win."
Duncan made sure the Spurs didn't blow it, going 3 for 5 in overtime and picking up two rebounds.
"I hate that we gave up that big of a lead in that situation," Duncan said. "But we were resilient enough to go to overtime and not let it affect us,"
Duncan opened the extra period with a layup, and then made a tiebreaking putback on Parker's missed jumper. He then hit a runner that bounced high of the back iron and rattled in for a 91-87 lead with 1:08 to play.
The Grizzlies had a chance to tie after Jerryd Bayless hit a jumper and Parker missed one of two free throws with 14.6 seconds left, but Bayless' 3-pointer from the left wing was off-target.
"It is real frustrating," Memphis forward Zach Randolph said. "We gave ourselves a chance in overtime but a few mistakes here and some mistakes there with a few breakdowns on defense, they win the game."
Bayless and Conley each had 18 points to lead Memphis. Randolph had 15 points and 18 rebounds, and Gasol added 12 points and 14 rebounds.
Duncan had 17 points and nine rebounds, missing most of the second half with foul trouble before coming up with the key baskets in overtime — even if it wasn't by design.
Memphis was down 0-2 to the Los Angeles Clippers in the opening round of this season's playoffs but stormed back to win the next four.
"We were better," Gasol said. "We played better than we played the first game, even though we lost. We were more Memphis Grizzlies. We were more us, especially in the second half. In the second half we played more our basketball. We moved the ball, we attacked and, of course, everything looks better when you make shots."
Randolph played better, especially. He made his first basket with 4 minutes left in the first quarter, which was nearly three full quarters earlier than his initial and only bucket in Game 1.
San Antonio's ball movement once again ran Memphis' defense ragged, with the Spurs picking up 24 assists on their first 26 baskets. Parker assisted on the first seven Spurs baskets of the half. He scored the next two.
The Spurs went scoreless in the final 4 minutes of the first, but still held a 15-13 lead at the end of the quarter because the Grizzlies only scored four points during the drought.
The Grizzlies experience a similar drought in the second quarter, failing to make a basket in the final 4 minutes. The Spurs took advantage of the drought, going on an 11-1 run.
The Spurs blocked nine shots in the first half, including one each by Duncan and Kawhi Leonard in a frustrating 0-for-6 possession by the Grizzlies. Trailing 44-30 with 23.9 seconds left in the first half, Randolph had three misses, Allen a pair and Tony Wroten missed the final attempt — all from within two feet — as Duncan and Leonard battled them under the boards.
"I'll take that hustle and the effort," Gasol said. "They got a lot of blocked shots. I thought some of them, especially during the (first) quarter in that action, everybody just tried to throw the ball up to the basket. I think there were four or five we should have brought back; we had a full shot clock. But that's just play. Everybody is trying to score, everybody is trying to help the team so I'm not mad at nobody for that. Good effort."
The Grizzlies had 19 offensive rebounds compared to 4 for the Spurs, but it only resulted in an 8-2 edge in second-chance points.
Notes: There was a moment of silence before the game recognizing the deadly tornado that hit Moore, Okla., on Monday. ... The Grizzlies missed five shots on their next-to-last possession of the first half. Tony Allen's baseline drive was snuffed out by a Leonard block and he also missed the putback before Randolph missed two putback tries — one of them blocked by Duncan. Tony Wroten then missed the final follow shot. ... Parker's previous career best in the playoffs was 14 assists against Utah on May 22, 2007. Johnny Moore holds the franchise postseason record with 20 against Denver in 1983.