Austin beaten in final minute
Potential tying 3 is too late; Santa Cruz scores last 8 points.
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.