Not only did he lead the Spurs with 20 points, he created the
decisive basket by hitting Tim Duncan with an inbound alley-oop
pass for a layup with 7.2 seconds left in San Antonio's 80-79 win
over the Memphis Grizzlies on Saturday night.
Duncan slipped behind Pau Gasol under the Spurs' basket and
Ginobili threw a perfect inbound pass. Duncan caught it in the air
and his two-handed shot just climbed over the front of the rim.
"The idea was to give it to (Duncan), but if by any chance Pau
was fronting him, he was going to go for a lob and so that's what
happened," Ginobili said of the final basket. "I just threw it in
the air and he finished very well."
Gasol said he lost track of Duncan on the play.
"I also lost sight of the ball and they caught us there," he
said. "It was an excellent pass, right on the money ... and he
made the tough, close shot."
The Spurs led by 15 points midway through the third quarter
before Memphis charged back behind Bobby Jackson and Mike Miller.
Jackson, who started 1-for-7 in shooting, had 16 of his 19 points
in the second half, and Miller scored eight straight to end the
third and start the fourth.
Jackson hit Gasol cutting down the lane for a dunk to put the
Grizzlies up 79-78 with 8.8 seconds remaining.
Ginobili started for the first time in more than a month. He
missed eight games after spraining his right foot in early December
and then he came off the bench for the last eight.
"I think everybody is feeling a sense of normalcy with him in
the starting lineup," said San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich.
"Everybody fit into their roles."
After a 3-pointer by Ginobili gave the Spurs a 70-60 lead with
about 8 minutes left, the Grizzlies made their move.
Eddie Jones hit his second 3-pointer and Jackson made a pair of
jumpers -- the second coming after he stole the ball from Tony
Parker -- to trim the difference to 75-73.
Robert Horry made a corner 3, then Gasol was fouled and
converted both free throws to make it 78-77.
Duncan scored 19 points and had 13 rebounds, while Michael
Finley added 12 points on 3-for-5 shooting behind the arc.
Gasol led Memphis with 26 points, but he made only four of his
13 free throws. Jones contributed 16 points and 10 rebounds, and
Miller scored 10.
Memphis made just three of its first 12 foul shots and finished
the game 10-for-20 at the line.
"You can't win big games against great teams if you shoot like
that at the foul line," said Grizzlies coach Mike Fratello.
The Grizzlies missed seven of their first eight shots, but still
led 10-8 early as the Spurs committed three turnovers in their
first seven possessions. Gasol had nine points in the opening
Finley, coming in for Ginobili midway through the first, quickly
scored on a dunk and a corner 3-pointer to keep San Antonio close.
He had another 3 and another dunk during the Spurs' 16-4 run
early in the second that built their lead to 37-24.
Memphis got baskets from Jones and Gasol and a 3-pointer by
Jackson to pull within eight late in the half, but Ginobili drove
around Gasol for a layup and made three free throws in the final
minute to make it 44-33 at the break.
The Grizzlies, behind Gasol, cut that deficit to five before a
pair of 3-pointers by Ginobili and one by Finley keyed a 14-4 burst
that gave San Antonio its biggest lead of the night at 59-44.
Jackson countered with two more 3s as Memphis got back within seven
to start the final period.
Finley went scoreless in Thursday night's loss to Detroit
and had averaged only 5.4 points in his previous five games. ...
Besides his free throw woes, Gasol committed five of the Grizzlies'
13 turnovers ... The Spurs and Grizzlies play again in Memphis on