By Jeff Cerda
After losing to the Phoenix Suns on Wednesday night, the Spurs were hoping to bounce back with what should have been a “W” against a less talented, injury-stricken Memphis Grizzles team with a 39-39 record.
The Grizzlies were without Marc Gasol and Ronnie Brewer. But as Spurs fans know, this does not usually go well for the Spurs when the opposing team is lacking players due to injuries.
In the first quarter the Spurs looked like they were going to run away with the game with the Grizzles looking sloppy at times. The Grizzlies did not score a field goal the last 2:50 of the quarter. With Rudy Gay, Zach Randolph and OJ Mayo scoring all but 2 of the first quarter points for the Grizzlies, this was looking like it was going to be a easy win for the Spurs.
The Grizzlies were missing open jumpers and not playing the best of defense and the Spurs were making them pay for it. Seven different Spurs scored in the opening quarter and DeJuan Blair even grabbed his own miss from the free throw line which led to one of Matt Bonner’s six threes for the night. The Spurs were up 30-21 at the end of the first.
The second quarter was where things really started changing. The Grizzlies were still struggling early in the quarter, as far as shooting goes, and the Spurs built the lead to as many as 13 points.
The Grizzles kept fighting and started making shots consistently late in the quarter. They were getting their team involved in the scoring this quarter instead of just the trio of Mayo, Gay and Randolph carrying the load. The Spurs were blowing assignments defensively and it was the Grizzlies who were making the Spurs pay this time. In the last 2:30 of the quarter the Grizzlies outscored the Spurs 14-7 and the Spurs got outscored 37-27 in the whole quarter and ended up going in to the half down 58-57.
The Grizzles started the third quarter on a 9-2 run to go up 67-59. The Spurs would answer with back-to-back three-point shots from Manu Ginobili and Bonner which put the Spurs to within 69-65. San Antonio was starting to look good again after blowing that 13 point lead.
A few moments later Ginobili got a steal and made a nice cross-court pass to a waiting Garrett Temple for a three-point shot which put the Spurs down only one and forced the Grizzlies to call time out and talk things over. After the time out the two teams went back and forth exchanging the lead a couple of times, but the Grizzlies would lead at the end of the third quarter at 84-80.
Early in the fourth quarter the Spurs were getting the stops they needed but they were not getting the buckets they needed on the offensive end to fully capitalize. At one point the Spurs got seven consecutive stops but only produced two points off of them. Two points off of seven straight stops is not going to get it done, especially when it is in the fourth quarter, the most crucial time of the game.
With 3:26 to go in the game the Spurs trailed 100-94, an illegal defense free-throw from Ginobili, a pair of free-throws and a put back from Tim Duncan put them within one with 2:30 to go. The Grizzlies kept their composure and answered with a Mike Conley jump-shot and the Spurs started to get desperate.
In the remaining minutes of the game the Spurs decided to start shooting up three-pointers with no luck. Roger Mason, Bonner, Temple, Ginobili and even Duncan all missed three pointers. In the last 2:30 of the game it was the Spurs who went scoreless to end the quarter, while the Grizzlies scored the last eight points to take the game 107-99.
The Spurs shot 32% from the three-point line while the Grizzlies shot 44%, and with Memphis shooting nearly 50% from the 3 point line, it’s hard to win. Another tough loss for the Spurs as the roller-coaster regular season comes closer to the end.
- Garrett Temple got his third straight start since Tony Parker is working his way back in the line up from a broken hand and George Hill nursing a sprained ankle. Temple had eight points, four rebounds, two assists, two steals and was 3 of 7 from the field on 26 minutes of playing time.
- George Hill has still not participated in practices and his timetable for a return is unknown. With Parker’s minutes increasing as the games come along, look for him to start come playoff time.
- The Spurs were outrebounded 48-39 with Zach Randolph grabbing 15 for the Grizzlies. Duncan recorded his 37th double double while Zach Randolph recorded his 55th, putting him in second for the season trailing only Dwight Howard.
- The Spurs are in the eighth spot at 48-31 in the Western Conference playoff race which currently pits them against the Los Angeles Lakers. A team the Spurs’ coach Gregg Popovich admitted wanting to avoid.
- The Spurs will next play the Denver Nuggets in Denver.