SAN ANTONIO (AP) — Gary Neal caught an inbounds pass with 1.7 seconds left and forced overtime with a 3-point heave as time expired, and the San Antonio Spurs staved off elimination by stunning the Memphis Grizzlies 110-103 on Wednesday night.
Neal’s straightaway 3-pointer was the second of two remarkable San Antonio baskets in the final 2.2 seconds of regulation. Manu Ginobili, who scored 33 points, hit the other with a long corner jumper while falling out of bounds to keep top-seeded San Antonio alive.
The basket was originally ruled a 3 that would have tied the score, but the officials went to video review and ruled Ginobili’s toe was on the line.
The eighth-seeded Grizzlies lead the best-of-seven series 3-2 and they will host the Spurs on Friday night.
But the Grizzlies will likely go home thinking they missed a knockout punch.
“Coach Pop set up a great play, Tim Duncan set up a great screen,” said Neal, who buried the shot with Grizzlies forward O.J. Mayo running toward him.
Biggest shot the rookie’s ever hit?
“Yeah,” Neal said. “By far.”
Only eight teams in NBA history have ever come back from a 3-1 deficit. The Spurs, who were the NBA’s winningest team for most of the season, are desperate to join that list in what may be their last good shot to win a fifth championship in the Tim Duncan era.
Zach Randolph led Memphis with 26 points and 11 rebounds. He scored 18 points in the fourth quarter and overtime, but Tony Parker of the Spurs scored six of his 24 points in overtime to help ensure there will be a Game 6 in Memphis.
It will be a long trip back for the Grizzlies.
They were 2.2 seconds from becoming just the fourth No. 8 seed in NBA history to win a playoff series, and finishing off the 61-win Spurs in only five games.
But a lot happened in those 2.2 seconds.
That’s all the time the Spurs needed to make not only two of the biggest shots in this series, but in the NBA playoffs so far this postseason.
First up was Ginobili who, after snatching the ball following a botched, up-for-grabs inbounds pass, pivoted frantically to the corner in front of the Spurs bench and made a difficult shot while falling toward the baseline that initially looked like a 3-pointer.
The Spurs — and a crowd that included signs reading “The Dynasty Lives” — thought Ginobili’s incredible fallaway tied the game. But after a lengthy video review, the officials reversed it.
That still left San Antonio down one point, and Randolph stretched the lead back to 97-94 with two free throws. So with their season on the line the Spurs turned to Neal, an undrafted rookie, to try and send the game in overtime.
Neal caught the inbounds pass with 1.7 seconds left 3 feet behind the 3-point line, squared up with Mayo running toward him, and sent the game into overtime.
“They’re tough,” Neal said. “The Grizzlies are a good team.”
Marc Gasol had 11 points and 17 rebounds for Memphis, while Mike Conley scored 20 points and Sam Young added 18.
Duncan began the game in vintage playoff form, looking keenly aware of the stakes. He scored 11 points in the first 9½ minutes, but scored just two the rest of the way. He had 12 rebounds.
Notes — The Spurs are 2-7 in the playoff dating to last season. ... San Antonio avoided being eliminated on its home court for the third consecutive year.