Despite uncharacteristically losing their way for a critical time, the San Antonio Spurs regained their championship form when it mattered most to put the Memphis Grizzlies in an unwanted position in the franchise's first-ever Western Conference finals trip.
Tim Duncan came up with a pair of huge baskets down the stretch in overtime, and the Spurs bounced back from a fourth-quarter fade to claim a 93-89 Game 2 victory over the Grizzlies and move halfway to another conference crown.
"Obviously he took over for us in overtime," said San Antonio head coach Gregg Popovich about Duncan. "Scoring wise and did a great job to take it upon himself and help us take a big win."
Duncan finished with a team-best 17 points, while fellow veteran Tony Parker scored 15 while dishing out a career-high 18 assists to help right the ship after the Spurs blew a 13-point lead with 7 1/2 minutes remaining in regulation.
The Grizzlies shot just 34 percent in struggling offensively for a second straight time in this series, but clamped down on the defensive end down the stretch to produce a 15-2 run that forced the extra session.
Mike Conley and Jerryd Bayless each netted 18 points and fueled Memphis' late rally, with Conley forging an 85-85 stalemate through regulation after knocking down a jumper in the lane with 18.2 seconds left.
Zach Randolph overcame a slow start to contribute 15 points and 18 rebounds for the Grizzlies, who will return home seeking to climb out of their 0-2 series hole in Saturday's Game 3.
"I could be comfortable with the way the team played," said San Antonio head coach Lionel Hollins. "We just have to find a way to score earlier so they don't get as far out on us as they have and we have to battle back."
The Spurs' accomplished corps gave Memphis all it could handle in posting a 105-83 triumph in Sunday's Game 1, and the Grizzlies appeared on the verge of another double-digit defeat before turning the screws defensively in the fourth quarter.
After Parker drained a 3-pointer that put San Antonio up 83-70 with 8:12 left to play, San Antonio mustered just one field goal over the remainder of the period as Memphis slowly clawed back.
The Grizzlies ripped off eight straight points, the last five coming on back- to-back buckets by reserve Quincy Pondexter that cut the lead to five. A Tiago Splitter dunk off a Manu Ginobili feed shortly afterward briefly gave San Antonio back the momentum, and the Spurs carried that 85-78 advantage into the final minute of play.
Memphis would not be denied, however. Randolph was fouled on a layup and hit the subsequent bonus shot with 52.1 seconds left, then stole an errant pass from Ginobili, who was whistled for a flagrant foul 1 for a hard shot to a driving Tony Allen with 26.1 seconds showing. Allen made both attempts to make it a two-point game.
With the Grizzlies retaining the ball due to the flagrant call, Conley blew past Parker and hit a runner in the lane that tied the score, with Duncan missing badly on a potential game-winning jumper as time ran down.
After the clubs traded baskets to begin OT, Duncan sent the Spurs back in front by putting back a Parker miss with 2:06 to go, then buried a floater after Memphis came up empty on the other end to extend the lead to 91-87 with 1:08 left.
The Spurs were clinging to a 92-89 lead when Bayless failed on a 3-point try with 11.8 seconds remaining, with San Antonio's Cory Joseph grabbing the carom and sealing the outcome by hitting 1-of-2 free throws.
Memphis trailed by as many as 18 points during a third quarter in which both teams stepped it up offensively, and was down by a 76-62 count in the waning moments of the stanza before making its bid to get back in it.
Bayless netted the initial six points of an 8-2 run that Randolph capped by muscling in for a layup which pulled Memphis within 78-70 with 9:40 to go. Parker scored the next five points to create some breathing room, right before the Spurs went into their cold spell that gave the Grizzlies an opening.
Both teams encountered difficulty putting the ball in the basket during the game's early stages, but the Spurs finally caught fire near the end of the first half to begin to create some distance.
Up 33-30 with 4 1/2 minutes to go in the second quarter, San Antonio made good on four straight shots -- a pair of Duncan jumpers sandwiched around 3- pointers from Danny Green and Kawhi Leonard. The surge was part of a 13-0 tear, with Memphis failing to score until Bayless sank 1-of-2 foul shots as time expired that sent the Grizzlies into the locker room faced with a 46-31 deficit.
Memphis went into the break having shot a miserable 25.5 percent over the first two quarters, with Randolph hitting a mere one field goal in 10 tries and Allen going 0-for-6.
Parker's previous career high for assists was 17, set at New Orleans on Jan. 23, 2012. His playoff best in that category had been 14, which came against Utah in the 2007 West finals ... Duncan finished with four blocks to become the first player in NBA playoff history to record 500 for his career ... Leonard ended with 12 points and nine rebounds for his 11th straight postseason game in double-figure scoring ... The Grizzlies have now lost in 10 of their last 11 visits to the AT&T Center.