NBA: Spurs push Grizzles close to exit with Game 3 win

Memphis Grizzlies' Vince Carter (right) shoots as San Antonio Spurs' Kawhi Leonard defends in Game 3 of the first round of the NBA Playoffs.
Memphis Grizzlies' Vince Carter (right) shoots as San Antonio Spurs' Kawhi Leonard defends in Game 3 of the first round of the NBA Playoffs.PHOTO: USA TODAY SPORTS

(REUTERS) - Kawhi Leonard scored 32 points and LaMarcus Aldridge added 16 to lead the San Antonio Spurs to a 96-87 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies on Friday night in a Western Conference first-round play-off game at FedExForum.

The win gave the Spurs a 3-0 lead in the series. San Antonio can clinch the best-of-seven series with a win on Sunday, also at FedExForum.

After being dominated by the Spurs in the first two games of the series - losses of 32 and 26 points in San Antonio - the Grizzlies competed from the outset. Memphis trailed by only one at the half and led 71-70 entering the fourth quarter.

A JaMychal Green lay-up, off an alley-oop pass from Xavier Munford, gave the Grizzlies a 73-70 lead to start the final quarter, but the Spurs recovered. San Antonio scored nine straight for a 79-73 advantage with 8min 3sec left and never trailed again.

Zach Randolph had 20 points and 11 rebounds to lead the Grizzlies. Matt Barnes also had a double-double with 17 points and 11 boards.

Memphis out-rebounded the Spurs, 48-39, but shot only 41.5 per cent.

After being held to 11 first-quarter points in Game 2, the Grizzlies scored 18 in the opening quarter and trailed by eight entering the second.

Despite falling behind by 13 early in the second, the Grizzlies rallied behind reserve guard Lance Stephenson, whose energy and accuracy allowed Memphis to go on a 10-0 run and trim the advantage to 34-31. Stephenson assisted on an Anderson dunk and followed with back-to-back jumpers during the run.

The Spurs were unable to pull away in the final seven minutes of the quarter and the Grizzlies briefly took lead - all of 16 seconds - on two free throws by Barnes with 3:05 to go. A lay-up by Barnes at the buzzer trimmed the Spurs' lead to one (44-43) at half-time.

Memphis outscored the Spurs, 25-18, in the second quarter after being outscored in the first nine quarters of the series.

The Grizzlies shot 41.5 in the opening half and missed eight of nine three-pointers. The Spurs shot slightly better (44.7 per cent), but were 6-of-12 from long range. Leonard, who was 3-of-4 from beyond the arc, had 14 points in the first half.