Memphis faced a nine-point deficit in the final minute of regulation before outscoring San Antonio 9-0 to send it to overtime.
“We came in at halftime, regrouped, talked about it,” said Jaren Jackson Jr., who scored 28 points. “Just came out firing [in the second half]. You chip away long enough, you’re going to make some noise.”
It came as Ja Morant nears his return for Memphis. The All-Star guard missed his seventh game as part of an eight-game suspension for “conduct detrimental to the league.” Memphis improved to 4-3 without Morant.
“We have been competitive all year,” Collins said. “We shouldn’t have lost that game. We were up 30. We shouldn’t have lost.”
After trailing by 29, Memphis tied it at 109 on a 3-pointer by Dillon Brooks with 1.8 seconds remaining in regulation. Vassell’s desperation 36-foot heave did not reach the rim as regulation ended.
Brooks finished with 16 points, while going 4-for-8 on 3-pointers.
“Our defense really clamped down down the stretch where we were trying to keep them off the boards,” Memphis coach Taylor Jenkins said. “Couple of tough bounces, but we came up with enough plays down the stretch.”
San Antonio was without key reserves Doug McDermott (bruised right hip), Devonte’ Graham (sore left quadriceps) and Romeo Langford (managing injured left adductor) and lost Jeremy Sochan after eight minutes. Memphis was without Steven Adams and Brandon Clarke.
“We got a little thin,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. “And down the stretch, they made shots. They made three 3s in a row, give them credit for that. Great game, though. Learned a lot to compete as hard as we did. Proud of them. Did a good job.”
The Grizzlies called two timeouts within 37 seconds midway through the first quarter following a 3-pointer by Collins and another by…