The Grizzlies battled back from a 26-point deficit and cut it to 4 with a vintage Grit and Grind performance in the third quarter, but came up short down the stretch. San Antonio leads the playoff series 2-0, but there are reasons to believe that Memphis can come alive like a phoenix rising from the ashes.
This Spurs team is not as scary and dominant as in the past and benefited from calls all game long, especially when the Grizzlies were within four. However, Memphis needs to improve its offensive production. Gasol, Conley, and Randolph cannot take any nights off. They all have had one good and one bad game in this series. The Grizzlies have only scored 82 points in each of the first two games.
This is classic Grizzlies, though. Classic, classic Grizzlies. Bizarre underperformance paired with inspiring overproduction.— Peter Edmiston (@peteredmiston) April 18, 2017
Mike Conley: B+
24 points, 8 assists in 37 minutes (-1)
Conley had another hot start and his offense was steady throughout the game. He was 4-for-8 from downtown and played like a star bouncing back from a mediocre game 1.
Zach Randolph: B
18 points, 10 rebounds in 35 minutes (-13)
Z-Bo came alive after a forgettable game 1. It was vintage Z-Bo against the Spurs and the veteran took the offensive load on his shoulders during the Memphis run in the third quarter.
James Ennis III: B-
7 points, 8 rebounds in 26 minutes (+5)
Ennis was inserted into the lineup at the start of the third quarter, and he made a noticeable difference. He defended Leonard well and rebounded efficiently. However, the wingman was 0-for-2 from downtown, and Memphis needs his perimeter shot, too.
Vince Carter: C
12 points in 33 minutes (-20)
Carter did his part on the offensive end with 5-of-9 field goals overall. It’s obvious, though, that he cannot guard Leonard at this stage of his career.
Brandan Wright: C
4 points, 1 rebound in 7 minutes (-5)
The backup center had a couple of nice floaters in the paint during his limited time on the floor.
Marc Gasol: D+
12 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists in 38 minutes (-11)
The Spaniard had a rough night, especially in the first half when he only made one field goal. He couldn’t find his shooting touch, and was 4-for-15 from the floor overall. As said, the Grizzlies need an aggressive Gasol night in and night out to beat the Spurs.
JaMychal Green: D
3 points, 5 rebounds in 15 minutes (-2)
Green had another off game. He’s averaging 3 points in this series and he’s not bringing enough arguments to get paid in the offseason.
Andrew Harrison: D-
2 points, 4 assists in 23 minutes (-14)
Fizdale's love for Harrison is still a mystery to me. The rookie point guard definitely doesn’t belong in the playoffs. He misses defensive assignments often and his shot is never there. Perhaps there is nothing better on the Memphis bench, right Baldwin?
Wayne Selden: F
0 points in 15 minutes
Selden is really out of his comfort zone. It must be tough for him to be in there with so little experience and such responsibility. He missed two wide open threes in the first quarter when the Spurs started to pull away.
Troy Daniels: F
0 points in 6 minutes
The sharpshooter cannot get a clean look. One wonders whether he should play Selden's minutes and see if he can get it going at some point. A bit of Daniels's hot hand may be needed in this series.
Coach David Fizdale: B
Fizdale's rant in the press conference was a classic one and should fire up the Grizzlies team and the Memphis crowd for game 3 of this series. He went off on the referees for an obviously poor officiating game.
Calls went the Spurs’ way all night long, and especially switched momentum when the Grizzlies pulled within four. There was a clear offensive foul on Leonard when JaMychal Green was defending him that ended up in a Spurs basket, a no call on a Mike Conley drive to the basket, and a clean block by Marc Gasol on Leonard.
NBA stars and successful teams have traditionally benefited from calls. Fizdale should not forget his time in Miami when the Heat clearly took advantage of bad calls during those Miami-Boston series. I personally never understood why NBA players need to earn the referees' respect. More particularly, I never understood why NBA stars get calls more often considering that they are the better players.
Officiating was clearly not the reason why the Grizzlies lost last night, though. It did affect the game in a big way, but right now the Spurs are the better team. Memphis has played two good quarters of basketball in two games. You need to play well throughout the whole game to beat the Spurs.
You’re not going to win with Grit and Grind only either. San Antonio is too savvy. Resorting to hero ball on Zach Randolph's isolation plays will only give you a few points a game. It’s also frustrating to see that Fizdale is playing Harrison down the stretch.
The Memphis coach at least understood that Selden is not playoff ready and that Ennis is the better defensive fit for Leonard. Give him credit for the team fighting back into this one. That third quarter gives arguments to believe. Can they bring that effort for all 48 minutes of game 3?