To find out how Tony Parker, Tim Duncan, and the San Antonio Spurs’ team defense was able to hold off the Memphis Grizzlies, click here.
The Bright Side
• The Kid from the West: For only being 20 years old, Kawhi Leonard is making a name for himself as a major NBA perimeter defender. After holding Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant under his scoring average, and just 22 points on 9-of-19 shooting, Leonard held Memphis’ Rudy Gay to 18 points, 9-of-26 shooting, and four turnovers. A week ago, Leonard held Gay to 1-point, and 0-of-7 shooting. This kid is making a huge impact for the Spurs’ team defense and it’s an even bigger bonus when he’s slashing to the basket and hitting open three pointers. Head coach Gregg Popovich has already mentioned Leonard’s name within the same conversation of soon to be retired jersey Spur Bruce Bowen, but Leonard still has an unknown part of his game on the offensive end that has unpredictable possibilities. With the way he’s holding some of these elite scorer’s to inefficient numbers, it’s getting close to the point where one can confidently say Leonard is going to shut down the other teams best perimeter scorer or make that player work for every point.
• D-E-F-E-N-S-E: The defense was stellar on Monday as the team held the Grizzlies to 18 points in the first quarter while making them shoot 36% from the field. The fourth quarter was the most impressive as the team held Memphis to just 5-of-16 shooting for only 11 points. The Spurs held the Grizzlies to 37% shooting through the entire game. With Tim Duncan’s five blocks, two coming in crunch time, the Spurs’ defense is beginning to slowly crawl back into good defensive standings.
• The bench: The bench of Gary Neal, Tiago Splitter, Matt Bonner, and Danny Green was stellar once again as they outscored the Grizzlies 22-5 in the first half. They were quiet in the third quarter with only four points, but the bench came to life when it mattered most in the fourth with eight points. Late when the Spurs needed a spark, James Anderson scored his only points with a big three pointer, and Green scored his only two points of the game clinching free throws with time winding down. Ever since that Dallas game where coach Popovich let the bench almost make a comeback, they play fearlessly and energetic in every game. There will be some quarters where the shots don’t fall, but this group has enough poise to continue to work and their shots eventually fall.
Room For Improvement
• Turnovers: As is a trend with the Spurs on the road, turnovers continue to be an issue for this team, as they had 19 tonight. Had the Spurs not had those double-digit cushions early on, those turnovers could have resulted in a Memphis double-digit lead in the second half. Though it’s already been 21 games without Manu Ginobili and the team continues to have success, the turnover issue will still need to be resolved while also implementing Ginobili and T.J. Ford back into the lineup in the future.
• The other starters: In their last five games, both DeJuan Blair and Richard Jefferson have been relatively quiet. Blair is averaging 4.4 points per game, and Jefferson is averaging eight points per game. Even rookie Kawhi Leonard has been producing more to help Duncan and Parker while Ginobili is still out. With the way Splitter and Bonner are playing, plus when Ginobili returns, both Blair and Jefferson could find themselves at the end of the bench by March.