Tony Parker had 20 points and nine assists, Kawhi Leonard scored 18 points, and the host San Antonio Spurs struck first in the Western Conference finals by beating the Memphis Grizzlies, 105-83, on Sunday.
The Spurs raced out to a 17-point lead in the first quarter, then came up with a response when Memphis rallied to get within six in the second half. Both teams pulled their starters with more than five minutes left and the Spurs leading by 21.
The Spurs avoided a repeat of their Game 1 loss when the teams met two years ago in the first round. The Grizzlies went on to knock San Antonio out of the playoffs as the top seed that time.
"I can promise you this: Nobody's happy in our locker room, because we were up, 2-0, [in the West finals] last year and we lost," Parker said. "It's just one game. It means nothing. We still have a long way to go."
Quincy Pondexter led Memphis with 17 points. Grizzlies all-star Zach Randolph missed his first seven shots and scored his only points on a tip-in with 9 minutes, 26 seconds left in the game.
Randolph was a non-factor after having a playoff-best 28 points and 14 rebounds in his last game, as Memphis eliminated defending West champ Oklahoma City in Game 5 on Wednesday.
"Obviously, he's their best scorer. He's a beast inside," Parker said. "We know he's not going to play like that every game. It's just sometimes it happens."
Marc Gasol provided 15 points for the Grizzlies, and Mike Conley had 14 points and eight assists.
Memphis has lost its opener in each round in this year's playoffs, recovering from an 0-2 hole in the first round against the Los Angeles Clippers and an 0-1 deficit against Oklahoma City in the West semifinals.
The NBA's stingiest defense wasn't up to its usual standards, allowing the Spurs to hit 53 percent of their shots and 14 three-pointers while Randolph struggled.
"We just didn't play well. It's not anything specific," Memphis coach Lionel Hollins said. "It's just that we were running too fast, we missed some layups, we were taking bad shots and our defense was really awful. And the Spurs played well."
Game 2 is Tuesday night in San Antonio.
New York's Carmelo Anthony, after the Knicks were eliminated Saturday by the Indiana Pacers in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference semifinals: "I think we took some steps forward as a team, as an organization, to win the games that we won, 50-plus games, to win our division. . . . It's a learning curve for us, and we'll be back better and stronger next year for sure."
- Inquirer wire reports