If you want to look at the brightside of Wednesday night's loss to the Spurs it's that even as Manu Ginobili returned to the lineup for San Antonio, and while we failed to execute on the offensive side of the ball, we hung in on the road against the top-seeded Spurs until the final possession.
Consider the Grizzlies shot 39% from the floor, Zach Randolph played his worst game of the season, O.J. Mayo and Shane Battier combined to shoot 3-of-18 from the floor, while Tony Allen and Mike Conley combined to turn the ball over 9 times... and we were still in this game until the final possession. The Grizzlies easily could have taken this game from the Spurs. This isn't to discredit the job the Spurs did, especially on the defensive side of the ball, but it's more of a rally cry for anyone who thinks that the return of Ginobili means doom for the Grizzlies.
Let's get into a few notes from the game after the jump.
- As I said earlier, Zach Randolph was ineffective against Antonio McDyess. The Spurs did a fantastic job of limiting Randolph's touches and making him commit to taking longer jumpers. Plain and simple, the Spurs took him out of the game. Randolph is far too good to let this happen to him, and he's far too important to our team. You rarely see him looked over-matched in the paint, and you NEVER see him lay an egg in back-to-back games. He'll recover.
Marc Gasol saw more doubles in the first quarter of this game than he saw in all of Game One. Tim Duncan spoke after Game One about paying more attention to Gasol, and they meant it. To be fair, Gasol got some good looks and was aggressive enough to get to the line 11 times. In fact, while he shot just 2-of-9 from the floor, there were about 3 or 4 layups which found themselves in and out of the rim. If just two of those shots broke his way...
- O.J. Mayo was married to taking long jumpers. He had that nice 10-foot jumper at the baseline late in the 4th quarter, but continued to step out and launch threes. He missed all 4 of his 3-point attempts. Mayo needed to be more aggressive in taking the ball to the hoop. And if the lane wasn't there, I'd feel more comfortable with him stopping on a dime and shooting a 10-12 foot jumper. We need Mayo's offense, but we need him to be smart about it.
- Darrell Arthur played a quietly effective game on both sides of the ball, yet there were not enough sets run through DA, especially while Matt Bonner (!!) was guarding him. It was easily a mismatch for DA, yet his touches were limited. This needs to improve in Game Three. Bonner may be an efficient 3-point shooter, but he's a mismatch on defense for DA and Z-Bo.
- We have to stop pretending like we're a good 3-point shooting team. We just aren't. I'm not saying we should bail on threes altogether, but I think 14 attempts are far too many. We played at our best during the season when we were taking 7-8 threes, not "wasting" possessions by hoisting 3-pointers. I would even accept the 10 attempts we took in Game One. Fourteen is just far too many.
- Manu Ginobili was strong, yet his return doesn't read doom for the Grizz. It was interesting to see that Tony Parker was almost taken out of his game. While Parker managed to score early, he was basically taken out of the game in the second half. The reason being, the ball was in Ginobili's hands. There was a rotation in the 4th quarter where Ginobili ran the point. Not Parker, not George Hill... but Ginobili. So while Manu was back, it was at the cost of Parker, who looked early on like he was going to feast on Conely. In fact, I mentioned in the thread that Parker looked like he was on his way to having a Rajon Rondo night (see: Game Two of Knicks-Celtics). Parker really could have abused us. I have more faith in Tony Allen taking Ginobili out of certain sets than I do with Conley taking Parker out of any sets. Again, I was dreading the matchup early on, but thankfully the Spurs decided to take Parker out of the game.
- The key to Game Three is going to have to be executing on offense. Thankfully, we'll play the next two at home where we are 2-0 against the Spurs and one of the toughest teams to beat on our home court. That won't mean we can waltz all over the Spurs, but it's nice to know that we are able to come home at 1-1 and not at an 0-2 deficit. Home-court advantage goes to the Grizz.
Hey, we're still in this series. And the good news is that we can come home with our heads held high. Down 0-2 would have sucked. Tied at 1-1 with a blowout in Game Two would have equally sucked. But, I'm happy to report that we're still in great shape. It's now on them to beat us at home. All we have to do is continue to play grit and grind.
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