“Honestly, I’m taking suggestions on how to guard Kawhi Leonard,” Fizdale said during his post-game press conference. “I’ve tried everything and the guy’s just…,” Fizdale said, pausing to release a dramatic sigh.
Leonard contributed a career playoff-high 43 points in a losing effort for the Spurs. He rallied the Spurs by scoring the last 16 points of regulation, but missed a 21-footer short of the rim with James Ennis defending him just before the buzzer ending regulation. Leonard also tied it at 108 with 17 seconds left in overtime with a 3 from the left corner.
“He’s tough. Man is he a superstar,” Fizdale added.
Leonard finished with 24 points combined in the fourth quarter and overtime in a thrilling game that also featured six lead changes and seven ties in the fourth quarter and overtime. Grizzlies forward Marc Gasol hit a 12-foot floater with 0.7 seconds left in overtime to seal the win for the Grizzlies.
The series is now tied 2-2 and returns to San Antonio for Game 5 on Tuesday.
Memphis guard Mike Conley said it was scary watching Leonard — a two-time Defensive Player of the Year and MVP candidate this season — shoot away.
“He’s unbelievable,” Conley said of Leonard. “It got to a point where you just knew if he got a shot off it was going in.”
Conley, who signed a five-year, $153 million contract last summer in what was the richest deal in the NBA at that point, also had a career game, finishing with a franchise postseason record 35 points.
“That was great game,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. “Both teams played their hearts out. Just a fantastic basketball game. The fans got their money’s worth tonight for sure. At the end, Marc made a great shot. L.A. (LaMarcus Aldridge) contested it very, very well, and it went down.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.