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The Memphis Grizzlies Run into the Buzzsaw Otherwise Known as the San Antonio Spurs

In an important match between two teams trending in opposite directions, the flailing Grizzlies met the white hot Spurs in San Antonio tonight with unfortunate results.

Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

Grizzlies 92 - Spurs 112

If there is one team that always seems to have the Grizzlies' number, it has to be the Spurs. Coming into tonight, they had won 9 out of their last 11 regular season matchups and swept the Grizz out of the playoffs last season. Being recent winners of 19 straight games with their only loss coming Thursday against the Thunder, the Spurs seemed well prepared to start off another winning streak tonight. Though the game started off rather slow with both teams looking to find their groove, the Spurs quickly settled into their game plan and proceed to go on a 22 to 6 run. The game was tied at 4, but their run made the score 26-10 at the end of the quarter.

The scoring drought in the first was due to the following:

  1. The Grizzlies once again settled for jump shots. Their first shot in the paint came around 6:30 mins left in the first on a Gasol dunk.
  2. Tony Allen, replacing an injured Prince in the starting lineup, tried to take over the offense. With him in the game, he had more shot attempts than both Gasol and Randolph.
  3. After the Grizzlies remembered that they weren't a jump shooting team, they missed easy layups and put backs. They ended the quarter being 3-11 in the paint.
  4. In 2 consecutive defensive stops, there was a blown fast break. Luckily they converted the 3rd when Conley's layup was goaltended.
  5. The Grizzlies' jump shots resulted in 0 FT's attempted in the quarter.
  6. The Grizzlies fg% was 23% after the first. The Spurs were at 56%

Around a minute left in the first Dave Joerger went to his bench. For most of the 2nd quarter, the bench played with the hustle and energy not shown by the starters. James Johnson did his best to try and get them back into the game, but the bench's momentum was consistently halted by some big Ginobili 3 pointers. Mike Conley entered the game in the middle of the 2nd, and the Grizzlies started a small comeback. However, the Spurs with Kawhi Leonard answered with a 15 to 2 run to end the half. The run pushed the lead back to 16, and the score to 54- 38.

Other notes for the 2nd quarter:

  • The Grizzlies could not capitalize in Tony Parker's absence. He left the game at the end of the 1st quarter after scoring 10 points.
  • Kawhi Leonard was 7 for 7 at the half including a wide open 3 pointer at the buzzer.

The 2nd half played out much like the first. The starters were awful and the Spurs lead got pushed up to 24 points. The bench once again came back into the game and got the Grizzlies within fighting distance. Despite their noble effort, the bench was completely outmatched by the Spurs' starters and the game soon became out of hand by the middle of the 4th. The Spurs easily won 112 to 92, pushing the Grizzlies one step closer to being left out of the playoffs.

Notes from the 2nd half:

  • The Grizzlies always play poor defense against the Spurs' screens and picks, but the starters looked generally disinterested. On a free throw attempt by Danny Green, not one Grizzly player tried to rebound the miss and the ball bounced right back to Green.
  • With all the good James Johnson did this game, he was awful in the 4th quarter against Ginobili. He picked up 3 quick fouls and the Grizzlies were in the penalty with 10:52 to go in the quarter. (I've watched basketball for over 15 years and have never seen a game where a team gets into the penalty so quickly)

Overall Notes:

  1. Kawhi Leonard was awesome in this game. He scored 26 pts shooting 12 out 13 fgs including 2 3 pointers. It didn't matter who the Grizzlies put on him, he scored. You sometimes have to tip your hat to a player who is on fire.
  2. It's amazing how awful the starters' +/- was. (Gasol -20, ZBO -26, Lee -23, Allen -16, and Conley -10)
  3. Mike Miller once again only attempted 2 shots. 2 wide open 3's that were bricked badly. If anyone shoots jump shots on this team, it really needs to be him.
  4. Courtney Lee has developed the Sam Young shooting style (Miller does this also) and it is killing his shot. First he pump fakes (usually a 3), and then takes a step or two forward and shoots a leaning shot. Not surprisingly, they are not good shots. The difference between those shots and what other teams do is that other players pump fake and let the defender jump into them earning free throws. I'm not sure why Joerger hasn't coached that strategy, but they really need to start trying it.