Zach Randolph had 31 points and 11 rebounds and the Memphis Grizzlies advanced to their first Western Conference semifinals, knocking off the top-seeded San Antonio Spurs 99-91.
MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Zach Randolph collected 31 points and 11 rebounds and the Memphis Grizzlies advanced to their first Western Conference semifinals, knocking off the top-seeded San Antonio Spurs 99-91 Friday night.
Memphis had been a franchise best known for empty seats and the unenviable league mark for playoff futility at 0-12 after being swept in its first three appearances. This time, a third straight sellout crowd cheered every basket, with a couple of signs begging the Grizzlies to “Finish Them.”
Memphis needed six games in the best-of-seven series to complete the job. The Grizzlies are one of two No. 8 seeds to defeat a top-seeded opponent since the NBA expanded the opening series to a best-of-seven format. The Golden State Warriors beat the top-seeded Dallas Mavericks in six games in 2007.
“Not a lot of people knew about us coming in, but we certainly have made some noise and turned some heads and got some attention that probably wouldn’t have been given to us if we’d lost this series,” Memphis coach Lionel Hollins said. “We’d just be another eight seed losing to the number-one seed.”
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The Grizzlies will open the second round Sunday in Oklahoma City.
Marc Gasol had 12 points and 13 rebounds for Memphis.
Tony Parker led San Antonio with 23 points.
“We played well all season long,” Parker said. “As you know, it doesn’t mean anything if you don’t play well in the playoffs, and overall Memphis played better than us.”
Tim Duncan of the Spurs said, “We were hoping at some point that they would fold under the pressure, make some mistakes through that pressure and they didn’t. They did the exact opposite.”
Randolph scored 17 of the Grizzlies’ 29 points in the fourth quarter.
“From a pick-me-up perspective, we just got on his back, and we rode him like he was an English warhorse,” Hollins said. “He was really carrying us. We were just hanging on.”
• Atlanta guard Kirk Hinrich has a strained right hamstring and is listed as doubtful for the Eastern Conference semifinal series against the top-seeded Chicago Bulls that starts Monday.
• Indiana Pacers president Larry Bird, a Hall of Fame player, is in the final year of his contract and owner Herb Simon said they will meet in the next 10 days to discuss Bird’s status.