Manu Ginobili felt rusty. He played with a bothersome, bulky black brace on his sprained right elbow and didn’t shoot particularly well.
But it was good enough.
Making his playoff debut after top-seeded San Antonio dropped Game 1 without him, Ginobili scored 17 points and lifted the Spurs to a 93-87 win over the Memphis Grizzlies last night in San Antonio, evening the first-round series.
“It was uncomfortable,’’ Ginobili said of the brace, which he plans to continue wearing through this week and possibly beyond. “But I felt I did OK. I took some risk. I went for some steals and rebounds and it wasn’t that I played worried about getting hit or something.’’
That much was clear as the 33-year-old dived and crashed to the court, looking 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.
The Grizzlies opened the series with a stunner for their first franchise playoff win. And a 2-0 lead seemed possible down to the final seconds, when Sam Young hit a 3-pointer with 14.9 seconds left to cut the lead to 89-87. It was the closest Memphis had been since trailing by 3 midway through the fourth. But George Hill sealed the win at the free throw line.
Game 3 is Saturday in Memphis.
“Manu’s Manu, come on,’’ Grizzlies forward Shane Battier said. “I don’t care if he’s in a body cast, he’s going to be out there and he’s going to be a handful to deal with.’’
Lakers 87, Hornets 78 — Andrew Bynum had 17 points and 11 rebounds, Lamar Odom scored 16 points, and host Los Angeles survived poor games from its two biggest stars to even its first-round playoff series against New Orleans.
With Odom’s outstanding performance leading strong bench play, the Lakers overcame the struggles of All-Stars Kobe Bryant, who managed just 11 points, and Pau Gasol, who had 8.
Thunder 106, Nuggets 89 — Kevin Durant scored 23 points, Russell Westbrook added 21, and host Oklahoma City built a huge first-half lead en route to the victory and a 2-0 first-round lead. The series shifts to Denver Saturday night for Game 3.
The Thunder relied heavily on their All-Star duo in Game 1, getting a combined 72 points from Durant and Westbrook. But they got contributions from everyone to build a 26-point lead early in the second quarter of a dominant victory.
“Everybody chipped in tonight,’’ said Durant, the NBA’s scoring champion the past two seasons. “That’s what we’re going to need.’’
Ty Lawson scored 20 points to lead Denver, which got as close as 10 in the fourth quarter before Oklahoma City put the game away.