- Associated Press - Thursday, April 21, 2011

MEMPHIS, TENN. | The Memphis Grizzlies are happy to be back home, sleeping in their own beds after splitting the first two games of their playoff series with the San Antonio Spurs.

Now their biggest challenge is getting back to playing basketball their way.

San Antonio bottled up Zach Randolph, limiting him to just 11 points and five rebounds, while Marc Gasol had just 12 points and 17 rebounds. The two were a combined 7 of 23 from the floor in Wednesday night’s 93-87 loss where the Grizzlies still came oh so close to going up 2-0 as the No. 8 seed in the West.

Coach Lionel Hollins says the Grizzlies can blame themselves for their mistakes.

“Everybody wants to bail the team out for inexperience. It’s just bad decisions. We’ve played all year. We’ve taken good shots, and in certain games we’ve taken bad shots,” Hollins said.

These Grizzlies definitely are built around Randolph and Gasol, who helped them lead the NBA this season scoring 51.5 points in the paint per game. Randolph averaged 20.1 points and a career-high 12.2 rebounds per game, and he said the Grizzlies didn’t play the way they did in winning Game 1. He saw a team settling for too many jump shots and not getting the ball inside.

“It was one of those games where we outplayed ourselves,” Randolph said. “We were thinking too much. We rushed too much, and we didn’t stick to our game plan.”

It’s why Memphis shot only 39.8 percent (35 of 88) Wednesday night compared to 43.8 (32 of 73) for the Spurs and well below their usual 47 percent shooting. Randolph knows one way the Grizzlies can improve immediately.

“We’ve just got to get the ball to the paint. We’ve got to drive the basketball. We can’t settle for jump shots,” Randolph said. “I don’t think they did nothing different. We just didn’t try to get the ball down there.”

The Grizzlies studied film Thursday with Game 3 on Saturday night in Memphis where a sold-out crowd awaits, hoping to see the Grizzlies add to their first postseason win by winning their first playoff game on their home court.

“We wanted to be able to come home with at least a win under our belt and come home in front of our fans who are very excited and are going to help us hopefully get another win at home because we feel we play well at home and our fans are excited,” Grizzlies guard Mike Conley said.

The Spurs took Thursday off, taking advantage of the two-day break between games and the chance to rest up in what’s already a very physical series. Spurs center Tim Duncan said Memphis is the toughest No. 8 seed he’s seen in a long time. He calls the Grizzlies tough and well-coached.

“More than anything those guys have a nose for the ball. Even when we do get stops, they find a way to get second and third chances on the board,” Duncan said. “They never quit. We understand that even more now.

“We’re 1-1 right now. We have to go to their house and try and get one.”

In a sign of how rough this series is, Duncan fouled out Wednesday night. The Spurs have had a big edge at the free throw line so far, taking advantage of the physical Grizzlies. San Antonio hit more free throws (22-of-32) than Memphis attempted (14 of 20) in Game 2.

Spurs guard Tony Parker compares the Grizzlies to the Utah Jazz of old.

“They’re going to foul and grab, and they’re great at it,” Parker said.

Manu Ginobili provided a big boost to the Spurs, returning Wednesday night and scoring 17 points with his sprained right elbow wrapped in a fat brace. Ginobili said the Grizzlies were more physical than most teams in the league during the regular season, so the Spurs talked about expecting a tough series.

“We have to attack hard and try to go straight lines to the rim, and try to draw fouls,” Ginobili said. “I think we’ve done it pretty well in the first two games. We went to the line 30 times in two games.”

And Duncan points at Randolph as the core of the Grizzlies’ physical style.

“He’s one of the best offensive rebounders in the game. That’s how he gets his work done there and you got to match that,” Duncan said.

The Grizzlies insist they aren’t just happy with being in the playoffs and winning once. They want to advance, and that means playing their typically stingy defense.

“We have to cut out the silly mistakes,” Grizzlies forward Shane Battier said.


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