Shorthanded Spurs fall to Grizzlies in crunch time

With 42 seconds remaining in the game between the San Antonio Spurs and Memphis Grizzlies on Monday, it looked like the Spurs might actuallydo what the Miami Heat did the night before – win on the road without two of their main players.

At the 42-second mark Tony Parker (25 points) had just made two free throws to give the Spurs a 90-87 lead. But, on a night when the Spurs were missing Tim Duncan, Kawhi Leonard, and Manu Ginobili, they couldn’t do what Miami did Sunday.

Mike Conley (23 points) would knock down a 3-pointer on the next possession to tie the game at 90 with 30 seconds left. From there, the Spurs would fail to execute like they did Sunday and Conley would win the game with a hard-nosed driving layup over Danny Green to give the Grizzlies the go-ahead basket 92-90.

“They made plays down the stretch,” said Spurs forward Stephen Jackson after the game of the Grizzlies.

The Spurs face their third stint of two straight losses once again, a situation they hadn’t been in since December. Here’s a quick analysis of the good and bad elements of the Spurs’ loss to the Grizzlies.

The Good

·         DeJuan Blair – With Duncan out, Blair was able to play 20 minutes against the Grizzlies big duo of Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol. Blair was efficient on both sides of the ball as offensively he scored six points, grabbed four rebounds, and dished four assists. Defensively, he was responsible for two steals on the Grizzlies.

·         Defense of quarters 1-3 – At halftime, the Spurs’ defense was holding the Grizzlies to just 37 points. The Spurs held the Grizzlies to 21 points in the first, 16 points in the second, and 25 in the third. Unfortunately, the fourth quarter goes in another category.

·         Stephen Jackson – Jackson started in place of Leonard and finished with 12 points, seven rebounds, three assists, and two steals. What was impressive about Jackson’s game Monday was that he wasn’t only a threat offensively from the outside. There were several plays where he beat the defense by driving into the lane and finished with layups, passed out to a shooter, or drew the foul.

The In-between

·         Nando De Colo – De Colo was aggressive finishing with 10 points and five rebounds on five of six shooting. In third quarter when Parker was resting on the bench, De Colo was basically guiding the Spurs’ offense with his shooting off of screens. However, his five turnovers were one part of the Spurs’ 16 turnovers as a team.

·         Tony Parker – Parker led his team with 25 points on 9-of-19 shooting, but it was some of the shots he decided to take in the final two minutes that made this an “in-between” performance. On one play down the stretch, Matt Bonner set a pick for him and popped out for an open 3-pointer. Instead of Parker passing to Bonner, he took and missed a contested 22-foot jump shot with two defenders in his way.

The Bad

·         Fourth quarter defense – After playing solid defense against a team that struggles to score 94 points per game for three quarters, the Spurs allowed the Grizzlies to put up 30 points in the final quarter as the team just couldn’t string together enough stops to with-hold Memphis from the win.

·         Turnovers – At this point in the season, 16 turnovers seems like a decent number compared to some of the high turnover nights the Spurs have had. However, the turnovers were once again a reason why the offense hasn’t been able to put together long runs or build big leads.

·         Gary Neal – I normally avoid blaming single players in losses because it’s a team game, but in crunch time in the fourth quarter, Neal made some terrible mistakes on both sides of the ball that could have led to a Spurs win if he hadn’t done so. With 2:46 left and the Spurs holding a four-point lead (86-82), Neal had a 2-on-1 fast break advantage with Jackson open on the left side of the floor. Instead of passing to Jackson for a layup, Neal shot a 13-foot jumper. The shot bricked and Conley drove the ball down on the other side where he drew a shooting foul against Tiago Splitter, which eventually became Splitter’s sixth foul after he had posted 13 points and 11 rebounds. On defense, Neal was responsible for leaving Conley open on the game tying 3-pointer Conley made in the final seconds of the game.

Magic in San Antonio Wednesday

The Spurs are down to their final eight games of the regular season as they will have just one day off, Tuesday, before playing in another back-to-back sequence. The Orlando Magic will visit the AT&T Center on Wednesday and then the Spurs will leave right after to play in Oklahoma City against the Thunder the following night in what could be the prime game for which team will win the Western Conference’s number one seed.

Where San Antonio stands

Here are a few stats showing where the Spurs stand in certain categories in the NBA. With the loss, the Spurs hold a 1 game lead over the Oklahoma City Thunder (54-20) with eight games remaining on the season.

Season record: 55-19  

Road Record: 23-14

Vs. the Western Conference: 32-14

Games decided by 3 points or less: 8-5

Vs. teams above .500: 26-13

Paul Garcia

About Paul Garcia

Paul is a San Antonio Spurs credentialed media member for Project Spurs. He covered the 2013 NBA All-Star Game in Houston, TX, and the 2013 and 2014 NBA Finals. Paul has been featured on WOAI, Fox 29, and numerous nationwide radio shows.

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