Morant Just Too Much. San Antonio Spurs Lose in Memphis 135-129

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Keldon Johnson led the San Antonio Spurs in scoring but couldn't defeat the Memphis Grizzlies Wednesday night.
January 11, 2023, Memphis, TN: during the third quarter against the Memphis Grizzlies at the FedEx Forum in Memphis, Tennessee Wednesday, January 11, 2023. (Photo by Reginald Thomas II/San Antonio Spurs)

Just when you think the San Antonio Spurs are falling out of a game, they pull their opponents right back in. Fortunately for the Memphis Grizzlies, and other teams this season, the young squad hasn’t quite finished how to win in the clutch after they claw back. That was the story on Wednesday night as the Spurs (13-29) fell to the Grizzlies (28-13) in Memphis 135-129. With the loss, San Antonio officially drops the season series against their division foe, trailing 3-0 with one game left against them this season.

After missing the contest on Monday with injuries, Keldon Johnson and Ja Morant returned to the floor for their respective teams and led the offensive attacks. Morant had a game-high 38 points while connecting on 50 percent of his shots from deep. Johnson’s 24 points paced the Spurs despite a rough night shooting 35 percent from the floor. San Antonio’s Tre Jones led all players with six assists and Memphis’ Steven Adams pulled down 17 rebounds.

The big men for both teams had big nights, accounting for all four of the game’s double-doubles. Adams had 11 points to go with his rebounding total while Jaren Jackson Jr. had 11 boards and 21 points for the Grizzlies. San Antonio’s Jakob Poeltl dropped 17 points and grabbed 16 rebounds while Zach Collins had 14 and 11 respectively.

Too Little Too Late for the Spurs

San Antonio started the game by matching Memphis’ energy well and keeping pace through the first quarter. Jeremy Sochan had seven of the Spurs’ first 13 points and appeared to be in for a career night. Early foul trouble, however, put a wrench in those plans and he finished with just 11 points in 29 minutes. Instead, it was San Antonio’s Johnson and the Grizzlies’ Morant who used an aggressive driving play style to pressure the defenses and pick up points from the free-throw line. They each made nine attempts in the first 24 minutes. Morant, along with Desmond Bane, was efficient from the floor while Johnson wasn’t. At the break, Memphis had a 14-point advantage, 76-62.

 

The Spurs once again stuck with the Grizzlies coming out of the locker room in the second half. They were able to score 35 points to Memphis’s 36 though the Grizzlies were at home from the three-point line. Poeltl and Collins worked the offensive glass to help keep the Spurs in the game for a fourth-quarter push, and push they did. San Antonio outscored Memphis in the final frame by nine points.

In a key sequence with three minutes left in regulation, the visitors’ defense tightened down, turning a Memphis 130-119 advantage to a 130-127 three-point game in less than a minute. Fouls and poor shooting beyond the arc squandered any hope of a win in the final minute. If San Antonio can figure out how to play in the clutch, they could have a bright future ahead of them.

Up Next for the San Antonio Spurs

The Spurs return home on Friday for a big game against the Golden State Warriors. Taking place in the Alamodome instead of the AT&T Center, the environment will be electric as the team announced during the game on Wednesday that 63,592 tickets have been sold for Friday’s contest. That total would set the NBA record for the highest attendance at a regular season game. The team is hoping to reach a sell-out crowd of 65,000.

Golden State (20-21) is having a rough season and has lost their last three games, all at home. San Antonio is their first stop on a five-game road trip, and the team hasn’t played well as visitors, posting a 3-16 record. With Steph Curry now back after a month-long stay on the injury report, the best-shooting perimeter team is surely looking to exploit the worst perimeter defense and bring the rain on the Spurs’ parade.

Game Box Score

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