The San Antonio Spurs looked more the part of the mighty Spurs teams of yesterday than the current lottery-bound squad they are at the moment in Memphis on Monday night.
The Memphis Grizzlies fought back admirably in the second quarter after LaMarcus Aldridge lit up Grizzlies bigs like a Christmas tree in the first quarter, but San Antonio pulled away in the third and the Spurs gave Memphis a loss to the tune of 145-115
Here are some quick takeaways from the defeat.
LaMarcus takes Grizzlies bigs to school
Last week, Chris Paul gave Ja Morant an education that only a great veteran player can bestow upon a younger one when he outplayed him in key moments of the Oklahoma City comeback victory. Tonight, LaMarcus Aldridge did the same thing to Jaren Jackson Jr. and Brandon Clarke (and any Grizzlies big, really).
Sometimes guys are just red hot. The Spurs in general were this, especially San Antonio’s starters. But Aldridge had 22 points after just one quarter of play and could not miss, regardless of who was defending him. His infamous midrange game was on, but he also was aggressive on the offensive glass and shooting the basketball beyond the arc. He got chippy at times with young Jaren as well, clearly enjoying the whooping he was placing on the young defensive star in the making.
Jaren got his offensively (22 points, 6 made threes), but LaMarcus outplayed him and every other Grizzlies big on this night. San Antonio was simply better in this game, and Aldridge and his 40 piece was the best of them.
Rotation questions continue
What did Kyle Anderson do to Taylor Jenkins?
Aside from a six minute span of playing time in the first half, Kyle was unable to crack the Grizzlies rotation in this contest until garbage time when the game was well in hand late. Meanwhile, Jae Crowder shot 1-9 from the floor and netted 29 minutes of play. Solomon Hill got 12 “meaningful” minutes for the Grizzlies as well.
These two veterans have done a lot for Memphis at times this season, but they are veterans that are here in large part because their salaries helped complete trades the Grizzlies front office wanted to execute to remake the roster on a larger scale. It is natural for rookie head coaches - especially young ones - to lean heavily on vets. But Kyle Anderson will almost certainly be a part of the 2020-2021 Memphis Grizzlies. Hill and Crowder may not be here two months from now as the trade deadline approaches.
Maybe after a loss like this the rotation gets tweaked. But Kyle Anderson is one of the better defenders on this roster, and is a versatile facilitator at the forward position. He needs more playing time. Period.
The San Antonio Spurs scored 145 points. They shot 67% from the floor, an all-time Grizzlies high for an opponent against them. The Spurs starters shot almost 75%, with their two stars (Aldridge and DeMar DeRozan) shooting a remarkable 27/34 combined. They had as a team a 62.5% conversion rate from three. Better defense certainly could have been played, but the Jordan-era Bulls were probably not slowing down the offensive onslaught of San Antonio on this night. Some times you tip your cap and move on.
Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, see you Thursday for Grizzlies vs. OKC.