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Gasol & Conley are great but Duncan & Pop still know how to be the best in the West

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The San Antonio Spurs end the streak of 22 straight regular season wins in the Grindhouse. Gasol, Conley, and Prince do their best scoring, 20 points or more each, but the everlasting big three of the Spurs - Duncan, Ginobili, and Parker ­- do it again, beating107-101 the Memphis Grizzlies.

Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

Final Score: San Antonio 107 - Memphis 101

Recap (with notes)

Pregame

It's basketball time. FedExForum, Memphis, Tennessee. The San Antonio Spurs (13-5) against the Memphis Grizzlies (15-3).

It's also time to end a long streak:

  • Grizzlies have dropped 8 straight vs. Spurs.
  • Grizzlies have lost 4 vs. Spurs at FedExForum.
  • Grizzlies have won 22 straight regular season games at FedExForum (what it means is that Grizzlies hardly ever lose at home...gladly the Spurs only come to Memphis two times during the regular season).

Rob Fischer: "What's so important when you're taking on the Spurs?"

Courtney Lee: "Oh, the most important thing is that you gotta come down and make sure you execute. Don't make turnovers, don't let them run, because you know they'll execute. Against the Spurs you have to be mentally sharp the whole game."

Chris Vernon: "You have to knock down shots against San Antonio."

All right. Execution, play smart, and shots.

1st Quarter
  • Popovich puts Bonner out there in the starting lineup. ZBo.Watch.Out.
  • The game begins with Gasol missing a fadeaway. Then Parker for two and Leonard for three. The Conley-Gasol connection starts working with its classic and beautiful tuya-mía. And Bonner aims, jumps, and shoots. First 3-pointer for him.
  • Just three minutes played and already three turnovers for the Grizzlies. And 1 of 4 shooting. In the meantime the Spurs doing their thing. They just can't miss. This Bonner matchup is gonna kill us.
  • Airball presented by Conley. No worries because everyone knows he's gonna be clutch in the fourth quarter.
  • Leonard steals (fouls), runs, and dunks (this kid is special). Technical for Marc (we understand you brother). 10-2 for the Spurs. Timeout called by Joerger.
  • Duncan scores his first two points. Then both missed layups by Grizzlies wings Lee and Allen. 1 of 8 shooting. Gasol answers with two points but Leonard says "what?" as he has already seven.
  • Brevin Knight says: "This Grizzlies team, they are like a mini Spurs basketball team." True that Kevin, and just that mini thing is what it hurts the most when we play against them.
  • 15-4. Spurs' sixth man Ginobili, a.k.a. the eternal magician, comes in, and Tayshaun Prince too, a.k.a. the most prolific scorer of the Grizzlies bench this season.
  • Buckets interchange: Conley-Parker-Lee-Duncan-Prince-Ginobili-Zbo-Ginobili-Gasol and the first quarter is over. 25-14 for the Spurs, and I got this terrible feeling that the Grizzlies could never take down these old guys who are always playing amazing basketball.
  • It's like when Marty Hart says in True Detective (speaking about his father): "I had about six inches on him, and even in the end I still think he could've taken me."
2nd Quarter
  • The second quarter didn't start any better for the Grizzlies, but at least "The Return of the Prince" was featured at FedExForum: 10 points for Tayshaun in the second quarter.
  • Beno Udrih also added six points to the scoreboard but the Memphis' backcourt defense was horrendous as both Green and Parker scored 10 in the quarter to keep the Spurs leading the game by a dozen.
  • Nobody was happy at FedExForum, and even Robert Pera was thinking about how much he hates the San Antonio Spurs (it's not a Clippers or OKC hatred but still is a furious one, and maybe it's also the worst, considering the carried envy).
  • Nothing was coming easy for the Grizzlies in the game, but nobody expects that against the Spurs. The truth is that both teams came into the contest as the two teams with the NBA's best regular season records during the 2014 calendar year: Memphis 52-13 (.742) and San Antonio 50-18 (.735). But hey! they are the champions.
  • Awesome block by "this is for the good times" Prince, and the crowd is excited again, but BOOOM! I mean, Bonner with another 3-killer-pointer and the quarter is done. 33-32 for the Spurs, and 58-46 going into the halftime.
Halftime
  • Top scorers at the half: Marc with 13 points and Prince coming off the bench with 12. And for the Spurs, Parker with 14 and Green with 11.
  • Keys of the game: Grizzlies on 43% shooting (2 of 5 three-pointers) and the Spurs on 61% shooting (7 of 13 three-pointers).

3rd Quarter

  • Defenses were better and points were harder to get in the third. This sounds pretty good to the Grit & Grind standard, right? Well, yeah, but the bad news are that everything started in the same and most painful way the Spurs know to make Grizzlies fans suffer some more: BONNER FOR THREE.
  • But Conley never surrenders as he began dominating the game going into the lane and playing aggressive time after time. And this Conley, I'm sure, can beat almost any team. Just not the "we still remember what your buddy Randolph did to us in the 2011 Playoffs" San Antonio Spurs.
  • A couple of good team defenses and buckets by Conley and Zbo put Memphis back into the game: 69-64 with three minutes remaining in the quarter. Then RANDOLPH HAD IT. The easiest look he is ever going to have against the Spurs: an easy peasy layup just under the rim. But he missed it. And like everybody at FedExForum knew, if you miss against them, THEY MAKE YOU PAY. Not once. And not twice...
  • BOOM! Bellinelli for 3. Ah, so then Ginobili misses two free throws? It doesn't matter. Because you don't get the rebound and BOOM! Ginobili for 3. And after that maybe Lee gets a bucket to make people believe it's still possible... "Oh, yes? Take this," says the Argentinian. And BOOM! Ginobili with another 3.
  • So what could have been 69-66 with the all the momentum and the GrindHouse on your side, it became really in three 3-pointers punches in Grizzlies face to finish the period 78-68.
4th Quarter
  • One good thing we learned in this fourth quarter is that Marc and Mike are already the stars that all Grizzlies fans wanted them to become two or three years ago. Marc scored 9 and Mike was unbelievable scoring 11 points in the period (Tony Parker didn't play in the fourth quarter, though).
  • For the Spurs, Ginobili -with 5 of 5 three-pointers in the game- kept showing why he is the real difference (just like he has always been) between San Antonio and Memphis as he scored 8 points more in the last period. Now the Grizzlies definitely don't lose the matchups with Duncan and Parker because Marc and Conley are awesome as well, but that wing who can shoot unexpected daggers when his team need it most, it's something so unique that I kinda enjoy watching Ginobili playing game after game because I know that after him, the NBA will never have a smarter and more magical player running side to side on the basketball courts.
  • But wait, because just today the Grizzlies did have that special wing who can shoot threes from everywhere: Tayshaun Prince finished the game with 20 points shooting 8 of 11 field goals, including 4 of 4 from long range.
  • With four minutes remaining, the Spurs led by 11 points, and Grizzlies couldn't do anything more to turn around that. Game was over. Time to move on and keep getting better.
  • Marc Gasol finished with 28 points and 12 rebounds, and Mike Conley also got a double-double with 23 and 10 assists. Another highlight of the game was that Tim Duncan got a triple-double (14 points, 10 rebounds, and 10 assists). And 107-101 the final score.
  • The thing is that even if the Warriors are 16-2 in the standings and believe they rule the West, the battles between Memphis and San Antonio will keep showing everyone that the West Kingdom is still in the Southwest division, and also that the Memphis Grizzlies have yet to overcome plenty of adversity to conquer it, but #GrizzNation #WeBelieve

On to the next one: Grizzlies vs. Heat, Dec 7th at FedEx Forum, Memphis, TN.