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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

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Body block: San Antonio's Tim Duncan looks for a way around Memphis' Marc Gasol in the first half of Game 4 of their first-round playoffs series on Monday night. The Grizzlies beat the Spurs 104-86 to take a 3-1 lead in the series. AP

Grizzlies push Spurs to brink


MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Whatever Memphis coach Lionel Hollins said to his team at halftime worked very, very well.

The eighth-seeded Grizzlies outscored San Antonio 30-15 in the third quarter, turning a 2-point halftime deficit into a 104-86 rout Monday night of the Spurs for a commanding 3-1 lead in their opening series.

"It was an incredible performance in the third and fourth quarter," Hollins said. "We outscored them 30-15 and from the second quarter on, our defense just kept getting better and better."

San Antonio led 50-48 at halftime, and Grizzlies guard O.J. Mayo said Hollins lit such a fire in his team with telling them exactly what he wanted them to do that they couldn't wait to get onto the court.

"We're not playing too well in so many words," Mayo said. "That's the clean version. And we need to get it together, and play with a lot of energy and play like we're a desperate team. All year he's been preaching that the desperate team usually wins, and we didn't look very desperate that first half."

The Grizzlies already had made franchise history by winning their first playoff game in Game 1 and added their first playoff win at home. Now they are a game away from becoming the second eighth seed to knock off a No. 1 seed since the NBA expanded to a best-of-seven series and join the 2007 Golden State Warriors.

"I know a lot of people didn't expect us to be here," Grizzlies guard Mike Conley said. "It's not like we were expected to be up 3-1 at this point. In our locker room, we're just playing it game by game. We want to come into San Antonio looking to end it there. We're focused and want to be able to move onto the next round."

Conley had 15 points and seven assists. Darrell Arthur added 14 points off the bench for Memphis. Tony Allen had 12, Randolph and Mayo 11 apiece.

These are the same Spurs that won 61 games in the regular season.

Tony Parker led the Spurs with 23 points.

Mavericks 93, Trail Blazers 82

In Dallas, the hosts avoided another late collapse to beat Portland, taking a 3-2 lead in their first-round series.

Dirk Nowitzki scored 11 of his 25 points in the third quarter, Tyson Chandler had 14 points and 20 rebounds — his most ever in a playoff game — and Jason Kidd had 14 assists to make sure the Mavericks bounced back strongly after blowing a late 23-point lead in Game 4.

Now Dallas has two days to rest before trying to close out the series in Game 6 on Thursday in Portland. It won't be easy as the Trail Blazers have won all four meetings there this season.

History is certainly on Dallas' side. Of the previous 157 series tied 2-2, the Game 5 winner has come out on top in the overall series 83 percent of the time.

Nuggets 104, Thunder 101

In Denver, the Nuggets avoided being swept by Oklahoma City.

Ty Lawson scored a career playoff-high 27 points and J.R. Smith and Danilo Gallinari hit clutch late shots as the Nuggets cut the series deficit to 3-1.

The Nuggets still face a huge challenge in trying to become the first NBA team ever to overcome a 3-0 series deficit, but they finally found a formula for beating their nemesis, who had beaten Denver five times this month.

In denying the Thunder their first playoff series win since moving from Seattle in 2008, the Nuggets went to the hoop better than they had all series and relied on the smooth touch of Gallinari, who totaled just 13 points in the previous two games but finished with 18 on Monday night to counter Kevin Durant's 31 points and Russell Westbrook's 30.

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