Grizzlies lose game, center against Spurs

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Memphis, TN-Tony Parker scored 20 points, Tiago Splitter added 17 and the San Antonio Spurs pulled away for a 102-86 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies on Friday night.

San Antonio (11-1) won its ninth straight to add to the best start in franchise history.

It was an efficient night for the Spurs, who shot 42 of 79 from the field (53.2 percent). Manu Ginobili added 15 points to lead a San Antonio bench that scored 45 points.

The Spurs ended the game on a 23-8 run after Memphis pulled within 79-78 midway through the fourth quarter.

It was a costly loss for the Grizzlies (7-6), who had starting center Marc Gasol leave the game with a sprained left knee early in the second quarter. He didn’t return and is expected to have an MRI on Saturday.

Mike Conley led the Grizzlies with 28 points. Zach Randolph added 16.

Once Gasol left, the Grizzlies’ chances of winning were greatly diminished.

The 7-foot-1 center grabbed at his knee while sliding toward the basket on defense, but never went to the floor. He gingerly walked off the floor and into the locker room.

Without him, the Grizzlies quickly lost ground. The Spurs pounded the ball inside and found plenty of room when driving to the basket, shooting 57.5 percent from the field (23 of 40) on the way to a 51-37 halftime lead.

The Grizzlies briefly fought back. Kosta Koufos, who started the second half in place of Gasol, made an easy layup after a nice pass from Tony Allen to tie it at 59. The rally was short-lived — the Spurs responded to take a 71-65 lead going into the fourth quarter.

The Spurs were able to outlast the Grizzlies with superior depth. Their bench was terrific in the middle of the game — Ginobili and Marco Belinelli repeatedly hit big shots — and then the Spurs’ starters did the rest to hold on for the win. Parker scored 11 points in the fourth quarter.