The Grizzlies did a good job mucking up the game in the first half, but not only could they not overcome some of their own horrendous shooting (a common theme this past month), but also the Borg (I mean Spurs) were relentless, and simply would not be denied, especially down the stretch.
The Grizz started with a slow first quarter (actually matching a Grizzlies franchise low for points in a quarter with 13), but scrapped and fought back with their best quarter of the ball game in the 2nd, only to then proceed to just get DRILLED by the Spurs 33-14 in the 3rd, and for all intents and purposes that was the ball game. The Spurs went on to win by 32, besting a previous record beatdown the Grizzlies suffered way back in the day when the OKC Thunder beat them by 27 on May 11th, 2011. As it is, the Grizzlies would need a miracle to be doing anything but enjoying their offseason break by this May.
There weren't many bright spots from this one. Zach Randolph was held to only six points on 3-13 shooting, and except for a couple of good hooks here and there, he really struggled. Matt Barnes went 1-7 in 23 minutes. Tony Allen did get some playing time (which is encouraging given his recent injuries) and even hit a three, but ultimately went 3-9 in 21 minutes. Xavier Munford went 2-9 in 27 minutes and missed both his three point attempts, so as you can see the common theme was Grizzly shooting going awry. Two Grizzlies who did shine on this otherwise dark and miserable game were Vince Carter and Lance Stephenson. Vince Carter went 6-7 from the field and converted both his attempts from long range to finish with 16 points (3 short of his season high) to go along with 3 rebounds and 2 assists in only 19 minutes. For several stretches in the game, Carter settled the team down and got them into some semblance of a decent offense. His efficient shooting gave the Grizzlies at least someone to go to offensively (at least early in the game when it somewhat mattered). Lance Stephenson also gave the Grizzlies a boost, with his contributions coming off the bench. In 28 minutes Stephenson had 14 points on 6-11 shooting while also going 2-4 from deep with 2 rebounds, 2 assists, and a steal. He was the spark plug to the Grizzly bench that Carter was to the Grizzlies starters. Even so, Carter and Stephenson were a combined -30.
As I stated earlier, the Grizzlies did do a good job in the first quarter, forcing the Spurs into 35% shooting in the opening frame, even while shooting a much more abysmal 23% percent from the field. The second quarter was the closest thing to a shootout as there was all game, as the Spurs warmed up from the field, but so did the Grizzlies, as they shot 64.7% (11-17 overall, including 2-3 from three) in the second. But by the third and fourth quarters it was all Spurs. Kawhi Leonard wrought havoc on the Grizzlies all night and finished with 20 points (on 50% shooting from the field and from three) with 4 steals and 3 blocked shots (one short of a career high). LaMarcus Aldridge had 17 on 8-15 shooting, while Tony Parker chipped in with 15 points and 6 assists. Patty Mills was a spark off the bench with 15 points and 3-7 from deep, and Boris Diaw put up his Boris Diaw numbers, with four points, five assists, and two rebounds. Even Kevin Martin heated up for 10 points (2-3 from three) in only 12 minutes. All of that was too much for the over matched, understaffed Memphis Grizzlies.
Game 2 between the Grizz and Spurs is Tuesday 9:30 pm ET. The Grizzlies can definitely (I hope) improve their shooting, as it can't get much worse than performances like tonight. Maybe Coach Joerger will see something he can use to keep the Spurs from keying in on Randolph and taking him out of the game. Maybe starting point guard Jordan Farmar will snap out of his miserable slump and give the Grizzlies more from that lead spot than the 6-7 points and 2-3 assists he's been struggling to muster lately. Maybe Vince Carter will go back to 2008-2009 (or even just 2012) and give us a couple of more retro offensive performances to open up some scoring opportunities for the Grizzlies while putting more pressure on the Spurs defensively and making this series more competitive. Maybe the young guns Jarell Martin, JaMychal Green, and Xavier Mumford will start to use their young legs and active motors to give the Spurs fits. Or maybe not. We'll just have to tune in and see. Until next time Grizz fans, keep grinding.