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Ginobili's return sparks Spurs to even series
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SAN ANTONIO (AP) — Manu Ginobili scored 17 points in the All-Star’s return after missing Game 1 with an elbow sprain, and the San Antonio Spurs beat the Memphis Grizzlies 93-87 on Wednesday night to even the first-round series.
Ginobili wore a thick sleeve to protect his right elbow but played as physically reckless as usual. He stayed questionable until just before tipoff, yet even with Ginobili, the top-seeded Spurs didn’t have it easy.
Sam Young led Memphis with 17 points. The Grizzlies opened the series with a stunner for their first franchise playoff win, and 2-0 lead seemed possible in the final seconds.
Young’s 3-pointer with 14.9 seconds left made it 89-87 before George Hill sealed the win at the free throw line.
Game 3 is Saturday in Memphis.
Tim Duncan had 16 points and 10 rebounds for the Spurs, and Hill and Richard Jefferson added 16 apiece.
But the Spurs didn’t win this game without Ginobili.
Exactly one week after spraining his right elbow in the regular-season finale, Ginobili finally returned after unsuccessfully lobbying Spurs coach Gregg Popovich to play in Game 1.
Ginobili struggled with his shot, going 5 of 13 from the field, but got to the foul line 13 times. He had seven rebounds and four assists.
Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol, who combined for 49 points in the opener, were far less dominant in Game 2. Randolph scored 11 points on 5-of-14 shooting and Gasol had 12 points, making just 2 of 9. Gasol had 17 rebounds.
Duncan fouled out of the game in 35 minutes, a sign that the Spurs were far more physical this time around.
Tony Allen scored 15 points and Mike Conley had 13 for Memphis.
Ginobili remained questionable until just before tipoff. Popovich said following the morning shootaround that since Ginobili’s elbow was still sore, the decision came down to whether the ailing All-Star might hurt more than help.
Fearing an 0-2 deficit, the Spurs decided a sore Ginobili was better than none at all.
Despite the bulky sleeve on his right elbow — his non-shooting hand — Ginobili hardly played with caution. He crashed to the court at least a half-dozen times in the first half alone, charging to the basket with his signature recklessness, and diving for loose balls.
Grizzlies forward Shane Battier emerged from one entanglement with Ginobili with a cut. And Ginobili was physical enough to fluster Allen, who cursed back down court after getting tangled with Ginobili, then greeted Ginobili for some more words when he returned to the bench.
Tony Parker added 12 points for the Spurs.
Notes: Battier, whose wife gave birth to their daughter following Game 1 on Sunday, returned in time for the Game 2 after not practicing with the Grizzlies all week.