“I thought it was one of our better games,” said San Antonio Spurs head Coach Gregg Popovich Wednesday evening. “It’s the best we’ve played in about two weeks.”
The game Popovich was talking about was the Spurs’ 103-82 second-half beat down of the Memphis Grizzlies who had just defeated the Spurs last Friday in overtime.
“We know that’s a team we might have to play in the playoffs,” added Spurs forward Stephen Jackson after the game.
Tim Duncan led the Spurs with 19 points, eight rebounds, and five blocks. Tony Parker added 17 points and 11 assists, while Boris Diaw (14 points), Kawhi Leonard (13 points), and Tiago Splitter (10 points, nine rebounds) all added to the Spurs’ 100-point scoring night, where the turnovers were low (13), and the assists high (33 assists on 44 made field goals.)
However, offense was not the reason for the Spurs’ victory tonight, it was the team defense in the second half that helped spark the Spurs toward their blowout of the Grizzlies. Here’s the rundown.
First quarter: Spurs 25, Grizzlies 19
Gay’s scoring in the first – In the first quarter, Rudy Gay (17 points) scored 10 points as he helped the Grizzlies end the first quarter on a 10-2 run. The Spurs’ defense as a whole had trouble stopping the Grizzlies in the first quarter as the Grizzlies shot 55% from the field.
Second quarter: Spurs 57, Grizzlies 54
Defense doesn’t exist – The second quarter was all about offense for both teams as the Spurs outscored the Grizzlies 38-29. By half, both teams were shooting over 54%. The Spurs had also assisted on 20 of their 24-made field goals. The offense was so on-point; the Spurs only turned the ball over four times in the second quarter.
Ultra-effective Diaw – In the second quarter, Diaw was involved in a lot of the Spurs’ plays to help ignite the offense. He went into halftime with 12 points. Jackson and Diaw both made plays on the offensive end of the floor during their stretch on the floor together.
“I’ve played with Boris on several teams,” said Jackson after the game, “I know his game and he knows mine.”
Third quarter: Spurs 82, Grizzlies 69
Spurs defense clamps down – In the third quarter, the Spurs had a decent offensive quarter as they continued to limit their turnovers, but the defense was the story as the Spurs held the Grizzlies to just 15 points. The Spurs had also forced the Grizzlies into 11 turnovers by the third. Five Spurs players were in double figures after three quarters, with the lead getting as high as 13 points.
Kawhi and Tiago – Dunking wise, the third quarter belonged to Splitter as Splitter dunked the ball twice out on the open floor. Leonard’s shooting was key in the third quarter as he made two 3-pointers in the quarter to end the night shooting 3-of-3 from three-point land.
"Tiago does the same thing every night,” said Popovich after the game, “he brings it."
Fourth quarter: Spurs 103, Grizzlies 82
Spurs’ defense finishes Grizzlies – The Spurs followed up their defensive third quarter with another defensive quarter in the fourth as they held the Grizzlies to 13 points in the final period. Overall in the entire second half, the Spurs held the Grizzlies to 28 points on 8-of-30 shooting. Gay, who was the leading scorer for Memphis finished with just three points and turned the ball over three times in the second half.
Moving the ball – One reason for the low turnover number was the precise ball movement for the Spurs. The ball movement all began with Parker who collected 11 assists on the night.
"They made sure I wasn't in the paint,” said Parker after the game, “I had to trust my teammates."
With the win, the Spurs have won 30 games (30-11) through the mid-point of their season. The team moved to 17-2 at home and won its 18th game by 10 or more points this season. What was Coach Popovich’s reaction to being halfway toward 60 wins?
"Records don't mean anything."
“Warriors, come out and play” – the revamped run-and-gun Golden State Warriors will be visiting the AT&T Center next on Friday as both teams prepare for their first matchup of the season. Parker said he was “excited” to play a team like the Warriors that plays with a quick tempo. He said the challenge would be like the Phoenix Suns in their prime.
Duncan’s rhythm still off? – Duncan ended the night shooting 9-of-17 tonight. Though he made more baskets and took more attempts than he had been taking, he still said he didn’t that he was in rhythm.
"They went in,” said Duncan of his made shots, “(but) they still didn't feel right."
Duncan being Duncan on defense – Duncan followed Sunday’s 7-blocks night with a 5-block performance on Wednesday. When Duncan was asked how he’s defending the rim at such a remarkable rate, he gave a very “Duncan” response.
“I’m not doing anything different defensively,” said Duncan, “It is what it is.”
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