Down by as many as 12 points early, the Spurs turned things around when it counted, beating Memphis 111-87 on Sunday and handing the Grizzlies their fifth straight loss.
"Our group did a good job defensively tonight. After the first quarter they really bore down and allowed 55 points in the last three quarters and for us that's always our fuel," said Spurs coach Gregg Popovich. "We're a good basketball team when we play defense and back it up with rebounding. Everything else flows from that."
San Antonio finished with a 46-32 advantage off the glass after the sluggish Spurs were outrebounded 10-7 in an opening quarter where the Grizzlies also hit 75 percent from the field.
"Our defense besides the first quarter was really good. First quarter was terrible," said Tony Parker, who along with Tim Duncan scored 24 points. "When you play good defense, it creates easy offense, you create fast-break transition and wide-open 3s."
And just as Parker said, the Spurs did OK in the scoring department, too. Michael Finley scored a season-high 22 points, including five 3-pointers, for the Spurs.
"Every shot I take, I hope it goes in," Finley said. "Tonight it was just going in a lot more for me and I think I just had a good rhythm offensively."
Duncan also grabbed 17 rebounds and Parker had nine assists.
The Spurs secured a 3-1 series advantage over the Grizzlies; the teams will not meet again during the regular season.
The Grizzlies have now lost eight of their last 10 games.
"When we have a lead we think things are going to be easy. I think when you're losing you cannot give up," said Darko Milicic, who scored 11 points for Memphis. "We have to get together as a team and play much better defense."
Rookie guard Mike Conley reappeared for the Grizzlies after sitting out 20 games with the injured right shoulder he got in November. Conley logged 20 minutes and scored six points.
"I was pretty much up to speed. I had to be able to guard a quick guard like Tony Parker. I thought I did pretty well," Conley said. "I'm not all the way back, you know, with my wind and things like that. But I think I'm getting there."
Juan Carlos Navarro contributed 10 points for the Grizzlies.
Matt Bonner added 18 points for the Spurs.
The Grizzlies jumped out to a 32-22 lead after the first quarter before the Spurs started chipping away at the margin in the second quarter with the help of 11 points from Bonner.
After drawing within four points with 3:10 left in the half, the Spurs began a 24-6 run that straddled the second and third quarters and gave them the lead for good. Bonner hit the go-ahead basket for San Antonio, a 3-pointer with 15.5 seconds on the clock in the half that gave the Spurs a 48-46 advantage.
"We let them back in the game in the second half with those 3s of Bonner," said Gasol. "We cannot afford to have any letdowns like that."
Finley's fourth 3 of the evening capped the Spurs' burst, making it 62-48 with 7:38 left in the third. The Grizzlies were able to keep pace late in the quarter by trading baskets with San Antonio, but with the Spurs alternately up by either 20 or 22, it didn't make much of a difference.
The Spurs took an 86-64 lead into the final 12 minutes after outscoring Memphis 38-18 in the third.
Mike Miller's fast-break layup brought Memphis within 15 with 8:14 left in the game, but consecutive baskets by Duncan, followed by his block of Conley's layup attempt, quickly put an end to the Grizzlies' modest surge. The Spurs soon went back up by more than 20.
Grizzlies coach Marc Iavaroni said that playing all four games against San Antonio only about one-third of the way through the season is "one of the oddities. We haven't played Denver yet, we haven't played the Lakers yet. ... It is strange because I just feel like I know this team so well." ... The Spurs were still without G Manu Ginobili (sprained left index finger) and G Brent Barry (torn muscle in left calf).