By Emily Allen, Staff Writer Project Spurs
The memory of a 92-86 loss in Memphis less than two weeks ago still fresh in their minds, the San Antonio Spurs (27-18) were ready to beat the Memphis Grizzlies (25-20) on home court at the AT&T Center on Friday evening. The Spurs lost Tony Parker to a sprained ankle during Wednesday’s game against Atlanta, so it was up to George Hill to fill the void left by scoring-machine Parker.
With Hill, Richard Jefferson, Keith Bogans, Antonio McDyess and Tim Duncan all starting, San Antonio started off the game down five to nothing as Memphis worked quickly in the first minute and a half of regulation. The Spurs recoiled quickly as Richard Jefferson put the first San Antonio points of the evening on the board with a 2 point jumper.
The first quarter quickly became the Jefferson and Hill Show, with McDyess and Duncan playing faithful sidekicks. Halfway through the quarter, Bogans made his only scoring contribution of the night: a perfect three-point shot from the corner, bringing the Spurs up 15-11 over Memphis. San Antonio was able to maintain its early lead by as much as nine points thanks to additional baskets by Ginobili and Mason late in the quarter.
The second quarter started off well for San Antonio as Matt Bonner made the first basket, a 3-point jumper (his only scoring contribution of the night as well) that put the Spurs up over the Grizzlies by ten points. Memphis came back to narrow San Antonio’s lead, but intense plays by DeJuan Blair and Hill (with a little help from Jefferson) during a literal down-the-court-and-back run in under 20 seconds stunned the Grizzlies and brought the Spurs back to an 8-point lead.
Memphis was far from content to let the Spurs maintain dominance and let them know in the last minutes of the first half as they answered San Antonio nearly point-for-point, limiting the Spurs to a two-point lead. Duncan worked vigorously, scoring six points in the final three and a half minutes of the second quarter, allowing the Spurs to enter the locker room with a 53-50 lead at the half.
With help from Jefferson, Duncan continued to keep the Spurs in the lead by dominating at the beginning of the third. Still determined to fight back hard, the Grizzlies came back to keep themselves in the game with small scoring bursts but could not find the power to overcome the Spurs on both sides of the ball. Ginobili stepped up to help give San Antonio big leads several times in the third quarter. San Antonio was able to score 24 total points in the quarter; 15 of those from Ginobili and Duncan.
The Grizzlies matched the Spurs entirely point for point in the fourth quarter, each team with 27 points apiece, but could not make up for minor struggles late in the game that gave San Antonio an advantage. Mason was a huge contributor in the final twelve minutes of the game, highlighted by back-to-back three-pointers, putting the Spurs back into an 11-point lead with under seven minutes to go. Just five minutes later, McDyess reached his third straight double-digit scoring game with a basket to bring the Spurs up to a 100-90 lead.
A little additional energy in their play all night thanks to a win over the Hawks, the Spurs go on to win against the Grizzlies, 104-97. Shooting 48.3 percent, the Spurs had a fairly decent night making 8-of-19 3-pt field goals. 44 points were scored in the paint and they had 38 rebounds, 13 of which were offensive.
Duncan led the team in scoring with 19 points and grabbed 9 rebounds. Congratulations to Duncan as in this game he reached 11, 000 rebounds for his career! Duncan was followed closely by Hill’s 18 points and Mason’s 17-point contribution. Blair had 10 rebounds, Duncan had 9 and McDyess ended the game with 8. For the first time since Dec. 5, Michael Finley was listed as active but spent the game on the bench.
Two consecutive wins in hand, the Spurs have a chance to continue a winning streak with a noon tipoff at the AT&T Center on Sunday against the Denver Nuggets. Coming off their own 17-point loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder in a Friday night game, San Antonio can expect Denver to be seeking three R’s: a recovery, redemption, and revenge.