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Report Card: San Antonio Spurs at Memphis Grizzlies

Grizzlies continue winning streak behind big-time defensive performance

NBA: San Antonio Spurs at Memphis Grizzlies Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

Make that four in a row.

The Spurs came into Memphis on Saturday night, and powered by stingy defense and Zach Randolph, the Grizzlies sent the Spurs back home with a loss.

The Grizzlies won 104-96 in a game with a playoff feel to it. Each possession had playoff intensity because the game was close for a huge majority of the game.

Memphis was able to pull away late in the fourth, but the game was tight all throughout. Here’s how the Grizzlies graded out in a big-time win.

Mike Conley (B+)

19 pts, 7 rebs, 6 asts, 2 stls, +3

Mike Conley had a solid statistical game against the Spurs. 19 pts, 7 rebs, and 6 asts might be one of the most Mike Conley games ever, actually.

But Conley had trouble getting his shot off against the Spurs. San Antonio defended the pick-and-roll against him extremely well, and Conley was forced to pass out more often than not. Conley was 5-12 from the field and that isn’t horrible. But during the game, it seemed that Tony Parker was a clear liability on defense and I wished Conley and the Grizz attacked that more often.

Overall, I can’t be mad with Mike Conley’s performance. He still defended well and produced, even if it wasn’t as efficient as I would like it to be.

Marc Gasol (B)

16 pts, 7 asts, 5 rebs, +9

Marc Gasol did not have one of his vintage nights. Coming off a triple-double in the last game against the Hawks, he seemed a lot more pedestrian against the Spurs. Marc had a lot of trouble scoring while Dewayne Dedmon was on him and he never got a scoring rhythm going.

But what makes Marc Gasol so special is his passing. He had 7 assists and a lot of his outlet passes led to great ball movement along the perimeter which eventually led to open threes. They didn’t all go in, but Gasol attracting defenders in the post is a winning formula considering how skilled he is as a passer.

NBA: San Antonio Spurs at Memphis Grizzlies Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

Tony Allen (B)

8 pts, 7 rebs, 2 blks, +4

Tony Allen really only has one job, and that’s being defensive stopper #1 for the Grizzlies. TA is still an elite perimeter defender and he proved his chops against Kawhi Leonard.

Not that Tony Allen still needs to prove anything, but stopping (more like slowing down) Kawhi was a big part of the victory. TA made Kawhi work for every point and forced him to score from the free throw line instead of getting easy buckets.

Kawhi (-12 for the night) was only 6-15 from the field and 2-6 from 3-point land. The Grizzlies would not have a chance if he was able to go off.

Unfortunately, offense is still half the game. TA had some missed opportunities on fast breaks and was only 3-10 from the field. Not the most efficient game, but for Tony Allen this is excusable.

Vince Carter (C+)

10 pts, 3 asts, 2 stls, +13

Vince Carter might be the best perimeter player that the Grizzlies have right now.

He had a hot start in the first quarter and it set the tone for the Grizzlies. He also played solid man-defense against Danny Green and did a great job of being aggressive and active on the defensive end the whole time.

VC is always known for his dunks and his age, but his defense was good in this one, even grabbing two steals.

Vince cooled off after his hot start, even getting a technical foul in the second half, and only ended up at 3-9 from the field for 10 points. But he was a +13 in 30 minutes and his defense was a big reason why.

NBA: San Antonio Spurs at Memphis Grizzlies Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

JaMychal Green (C-)

11 pts, 4 reb, -3

JaMychal Green was a bit of a disappearing act in this game. He made himself plenty useful for small stretches and yet fade into the background during other stretches. He had a good start to the 3rd quarter, scoring 8 straight points for the Grizzlies at one point.

JaM especially did not have a great night defensively. He’s too small to guard Dedmon or Gasol, and LaMarcus Aldridge toasted him one time too many in post-up situations. This game was not an encouraging one for Green if this ends up being a playoff series.

Zach Randolph (A)

18 pts, 7 reb, 7-12 FG’s, +15

Z-Bo continues to be excellent coming off the bench for the Grizzlies. He put up 18 pts and 7 rebounds very efficiently, shooting 7-12 on the night. He even made a three!

With the rest of the team struggling to get consistent offense, Zach Randolph was absolutely huge. Conley and Gasol weren’t lighting the world on fire with their offense, so a third player stepping up was necessary. Z-Bo also had the highest +/- of the game for the Grizzlies, posting a +15 in 26 minutes.

NBA: San Antonio Spurs at Memphis Grizzlies Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

Troy Daniels (A-)

11 pts, 3-6 3P, -4

Troy Daniels did not have a spectacular night last night, but he played to his strengths perfectly. He came off of screens lightning quick and hit open threes, which is all the Grizzlies can ask from him. Troy Daniels averaged 8.0 PPG and 1.9 3PM per game heading into last night and he had 11 points and made 3 triples against the Spurs. That’s a successful night to me.

Team Offense (B-)

42.1% FG, 43.3% 3P, 20 asts, 10 TOs

The offense worked on Saturday night, and that’s really all you can ask for, but it could have been better. The Grizzlies had some dry spells throughout the game where it seemed like consistent scoring was a myth. But the 3-pointer is called the equalizer for a reason, and it kept the Grizzlies in the game the entire time.

The Grizzlies shot better on 3-pointers (43.3%) than they did on all field goals (42.1%). The Grizzlies got to the line at a solid pace, shooting 10 more FT’s than the Spurs.

There were some sloppy moments where the offense needed some kick-starting, which prevents them from getting a higher grade, but winning the 3-point battle and the FT battle will always put you in a good position to win.

Team Defense (A+)

44.0% FG, 32.1% 3P, 18 asts, 15 TOs

The Grizzlies defense has been leading the charge in this 4-game winning streak and Saturday was a perfect example.

The Grizzlies had so many problems defensively during the losing streak that preceded this streak and the Grizz showed they are capable of solving those problems. The transition defense and perimeter defense were in prime form in this matchup.

The Grizzlies shut down the Spurs from beyond the 3-point arc and it kept the Spurs from getting back into the game. They only shot 32.1% on 3-pointers for the game and the Grizzlies forced 15 turnovers. Memphis was extremely active defensively and played every passing lane, making it very difficult for the Spurs to get their patented ball movement going.

NBA: San Antonio Spurs at Memphis Grizzlies Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

David Fizdale (A)

Going toe-to-toe with Gregg Popovich and coming out the victor will always earn the coach an “A” from me.

But Fizdale didn’t fall backwards into the win, he did a pretty good coaching job. David Fizdale’s substitutions were well-executed and well-planned.

He also deserves credit for not letting the game swing too wildly. The Spurs had several runs where it looked like they could claim the lead and leave Memphis in the dust, but Fizz would call a timeout to reset the game and the Grizzlies would step up afterwards. Staying level is important along the course of a game so as not to let runs affect the game disproportionately; David Fizdale did a good job of keeping the Grizzlies on track and getting the win.