- Associated Press - Tuesday, April 4, 2017

SAN ANTONIO (AP) - The Memphis Grizzlies showed the Spurs they will not back down from a fight. Not even when their leader, Mike Conley, takes a blow to the head that knocks him out of the game.

Kawhi Leonard had 32 points and 12 rebounds, and San Antonio rallied in the final seconds of regulation before beating Memphis 95-89 in overtime on Tuesday night in a matchup of likely first-round playoff opponents.

“This is a game we wanted to send a message that we are not going to be a team that’s going to lay down at the end of the year,” said Conley, who had a gash across his right eyelid. “We’re a team that continues to push, continues to fight through adversity.”

Conley exited with 3:42 remaining in regulation and did not return after bumping heads with Leonard under the basket. The Grizzlies’ leading scorer took one continuous stitch under his right eyelid rather than “13.” Conley is unsure if he will play Wednesday against Oklahoma City, but said he would have returned against San Antonio if allowed.

“It wouldn’t stop bleeding,” Conley said. “One of those things that I had to have trust in my teammates and I trust them fully.”

They nearly came through, outscoring San Antonio 13-6 in regulation without Conley.

The Spurs rallied during a dramatic final five seconds to force overtime.

Leonard tied the game at 82 with 4.9 seconds remaining with a step-back, 15-foot jumper over JaMychal Green. Zach Randolph followed with a 12-foot, turnaround jumper 2.2 seconds later before LaMarcus Aldridge put in a layup off an inbounds pass from Pau Gasol with 1.6 seconds left.

“I had to look for Kawhi first, and if he was open obviously I was going to hit him,” Gasol said. “(Leonard) attracts a lot of attention, as we all could see from that play. And then LaMarcus was wide open so I had to put it over the top right where he could just lay it up. So it worked out well.”

Randolph’s 3-pointer fell far short of the basket as the buzzer sounded after he mishandled the ensuing inbounds pass.

Randolph finished with 18 points and 16 rebounds. Conley had 19 points and six assists.

Aldridge had 15 points and Gasol added 12 points and 11 rebounds. Gasol and Patty Mills each hit a 3-pointer in overtime to lead the Spurs to their third straight win.

San Antonio and Memphis, who split their four-game series, would meet again to open the playoffs if the standings remain the same. The Spurs are currently second in the Western Conference and the Grizzlies are seventh.

“If we have to match up with them again in the playoffs, it’s going to be a dogfight and we understand that,” Conley said. “Tonight was a test for us and they played like it was a playoff game. They played like they wanted to win that thing. It was a good lesson.”

Memphis was without defensive stalwart Tony Allen, who was poked in the left eye in the Grizzlies’ previous game, but was still able to stifle San Antonio.

The Spurs matched a season low for points in the opening quarter in falling behind 16-14.

“They pack the paint, they don’t want you getting any easy layups,” Leonard said. “They make you shoot 3s, very physical. They get their hands on a lot of balls.”

TIP-INS

Grizzlies: Memphis coach David Fizdale said Allen’s vision was still bothering him after being poked in the left eye during Sunday’s game against the Los Angeles Lakers. . Marc Gasol and Green played after both were listed as questionable. Gasol has a strained left foot and Green has a sore left shoulder. … G Andrew Harrison sat the game out with an injured right ankle. … Memphis‘ last win in San Antonio was a 117-116 victory in triple overtime on Dec. 17, 2014.

Spurs: PG Tony Parker was 4 for 8 from the field, giving him 7,368 career field goals to pass David Robinson (7,365) for third in franchise history. Tim Duncan (10,285) and George Gervin (7,526) are the franchise leaders. Parker also played his 1,139th career game, passing Danny Schayes for 53rd in league history.

INSULT TO INJURY

Conley was upset he was forced to leave the game due to the injury, but he was even madder that officials issued him an offensive foul on the play.

Conley was out of bounds under the basket when he attempted to cut back away from Leonard and return to the court. The two bumped heads inadvertently, causing both to immediately clutch their heads. Leonard said afterward he was fine, but Conley walked off the court bleeding while officials assessed him an offensive foul.

“I’m fine, frustrated,” Conley said. “This is what an offensive foul looks like. If it was flipped, I feel like it would have been a different call. That’s what’s frustrating right now, more so than anything, and losing.”

About 20 minutes after taking the blow, there was still blood on the paper towel Conley had wrapped around an icepack he was holding to his right eye in the locker room.

“For me to get this and walk off with a foul, it’s unacceptable in my opinion,” he said.

UP NEXT

Grizzlies: Host Oklahoma City on Wednesday night.

Spurs: Host Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday night.


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