Austin beaten in fi­nal minute

Po­ten­tial ty­ing 3 is too late; Santa Cruz scores last 8 points.

Austin American-Statesman - - SPORTS - Amer­i­can-States­man Staff

The Mem­phis Griz­zlies got into the Spurs de­fen­sively, push­ing San An­to­nio around and mak­ing ev­ery pos­ses­sion a fierce fight.

The Spurs en­joyed it, espe- cially their de­fen­sive-minded coach.

LaMar­cus Aldridge scored 23 points, Kawhi Leonard added 19 and San An­to­nio beat Mem­phis 97-90 on Thurs­day night in a pos­si­ble first-round play­off preview.

“It’s good for the team and my­self that we’re see­ing this early in­stead of be­ing hit in the play­offs,” Leonard said.

San An­to­nio opened a four-game home­s­tand by mov­ing two games be­hind idle Golden State for the league’s best record. The Spurs (55-16) play New York on Satur­day and close the home­s­tand against the War­riors (57-14) on Wed­nes­day.

Mem­phis (40-32) is sev­enth in the Western Con­fer- ence, which would re­sult in a first-round matchup with San An­to­nio if the stand­ings re­main.

“I thought both teams played good de­fense,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. “As usual, mak­ing some shots down the stretch mat­ters, but over­all I thought we moved the ball pretty well and we didn’t turn it over too much. We played a pretty good game.”

Mike Con­ley had 22 points and six as­sists for Mem­phis, which fell 1½ games be­hind Ok­la­homa City for sixth place.

Marc Ga­sol, who had 13 points, was the only other Griz­zlies player in dou­ble fig­ures.

San A nto­nio l ost t he first two meet­ings, both in Mem­phis, by a com­bined 23 points.

“They were more clear on their plan de­fen­sively,” said Marc Ga­sol, who outscored his brother, the Spurs’ Pau Ga­sol, by four points. “They did a good job. We didn’t re­ally run. They moved the ball, they made a lot of shots.”

Aldridge reached 15,000 ca­reer points with his fi­nal bas­ket, a 13-foot jumper that gave San An­to­nio a 90-81 lead with 2:10 re­main­ing.

The Santa Cruz War­riors went on an 8-0 run to close the game as they topped the Austin Spurs 106-103 in an NBA De­vel­op­ment League con­test Thurs­day night at the H-E-B Cen­ter in Cedar Park.

James Souther­land, Damian Jones a nd Phil Pressey each made field goals and Ter­rence Dris­dom made two free throws in the fi­nal 1 minute, 20 sec­onds to seal the win.

Pressey’s shot with 9.9 sec­onds left gave Santa Cruz the lead for good.

Jeff Led­bet­ter made a 3-point shot for Austin that would have been the ty­ing bas­ket, but it was just af­ter the buzzer.

Pressey scored 24 points to lead the War­riors. Jones added 23 points, 12 re­bounds, four blocks and a steal.

Six Spurs scored in dou­ble dig­its, led by Or­lando John­son’s 17. Ryan Ar­cidi­a­cono had 16 points, Charles Gar­cia 15 and Daniel Nwaelele 13. Livio Jean-Charles had 12 points and five re­bounds, and Pa­tri­cio Garino had 10 points and five re­bounds.

Austin held a one-point lead af­ter the first quar­ter and was up by two at half­time.

The game was tied at 98 with 2:17 left, and the Spurs went on a 5-0 run to seem­ingly take con­trol. John­son made a shot to put Austin up by two points, and then Nwaelele made a 3-pointer to give the Spurs a five-point lead with 1:27 to play.

Nwaelele’s shot was the last time Austin scored as Santa Cruz scored eight straight to take the win. Souther­land’s layup with 1:20 to go was fol­lowed by Jones’ put­back that pulled the War­riors to within a point with 49.1 sec­onds left.

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