The San Antonio Spurs' defense smothers Memphis Grizzlies big man… (Eric Gay / Associated Press )
SAN ANTONIO — Stumbling in playoff series openers is nothing new for the Memphis Grizzlies.
Of course, they've never experienced the kind of fall they did against the San Antonio Spurs in Game 1 of the Western Conference finals.
San Antonio may have left Memphis with a bruised psyche to go with a 105-83 defeat Sunday at the AT&T Center, the Spurs turning the Grizzlies' strengths into glaring shortcomings with the same smart, disciplined approach that has characterized their four championship runs.
BOX SCORE: San Antonio 105, Memphis 83
San Antonio negated half of Memphis' vaunted big-man duo by continually fronting forward Zach Randolph, who finished with more pained expressions than his season-low two points.
The Spurs also made a playoff-high 14 three-pointers against what was presumed to be one of the NBA's top defenses, including four each by Kawhi Leonard and Matt Bonner and three by Danny Green.
"When we shoot the ball like that," said San Antonio guard Tony Parker, who scored 20 points on nine-for-14 shooting, "we're pretty hard to stop."
Leonard finished with an efficient 18 points, making seven of 10 shots, and Green had 16 points, making six of nine shots.
The Grizzlies were constantly in scramble mode while failing to close out on the Spurs' three-point shooters, leading to their worst loss of the playoffs.
"We were just so hyper, just running all over the place on defense," Memphis Coach Lionel Hollins said. "We'd have four guys in the paint and nobody would be out on the perimeter guarding anybody, and that's not how we play defense."
It also wasn't how the Grizzlies usually play offense. Randolph, who entered the game averaging a team-high 19.7 points in the playoffs, missed seven of his eight shots, finally scoring on a tipin with 9:26 left in the fourth quarter.
"It felt like the first game against the Clippers," said Randolph, who actually had 13 points in that defeat. "It's just one of them nights."
The game was competitive for about four minutes — the first three minutes after tipoff and a minute-long stretch late in the third quarter when the Grizzlies pulled to within 62-56 after eight consecutive points by Quincy Pondexter and a Jerryd Bayless dunk.
Bayless had a chance to further cut into the deficit, but his three-point shot rimmed out, the Spurs' Manu Ginobili made a three-pointer to start a 7-0 run and that was that.
For Memphis, this was a game not even a brother could love.
With the Grizzlies trailing by 17 points in the second quarter, Adria Gasol, Marc's younger sibling, tweeted, "done watching this game."
If Adria really did tune out, he missed his brother finishing with 15 points and seven rebounds amid a slew of Spurs double teams. The effort essentially turned Randolph, known as Z-Bo, into Z-Uh-Oh, while largely negating Pondexter's unexpected contribution of 17 points off the bench.
"They weren't allowing him to touch the ball in the first place," Memphis guard Mike Conley said of Randolph. "It was tough to put him in a good position, which made us have to go to different options and we weren't able to get our high-lows like we normally do. … That was the best defense I've seen on the big fella in a long time."
Memphis now must hope its recent playoff history repeats itself. The Grizzlies rallied to win series against the Clippers after falling behind, 0-2, and against the Thunder after dropping the first game.
"It doesn't mean that we cannot beat them," Gasol said of the Spurs. "We've got to come back, regroup and do what we do."