With key injuries to the team, the San Antonio Spurs knew they would need to shift their lineup and allow DeMar DeRozan to be the closer he was in Toronto and so far he has answered the call.

For the second straight game in the bubble, DeRozan took over, scoring eight of his 14 points in the fourth quarter as he led the Spurs to a 108-106 win over the Memphis Grizzlies (32-35) at the VISA Athletic Center on Sunday afternoon.

With San Antonio’s win and Portland’s loss to Boston on Sunday, the Spurs have now climbed into ninth place in the Western Conference.

“You always like it better when you win,” Spurs Head Coach Gregg Popovich said after the game. “I didn’t think we were as sharp as against Indiana and Sacramento. We just kept playing.”

Patty Mills returned to the lineup after missing Friday’s game against Sacramento and scored 10 points on 40 percent shooting in 13 minutes off the bench. Jakob Poeltl was plagued by foul trouble as he put up six points and seven rebounds before fouling out.

San Antonio’s interior defense struggled without Poeltl as Memphis went to the paint with ease. Rookie sensation Ja Morant had 25 points on 10-of-18 shooting, with 18 of his 25 coming from inside the paint. Jaren Jackson Jr. continued to be a thorn in the Spurs’ sides scoring 21 points, including the game-tying three-pointer late.

Three Standout Players

Dejounte Murray

The Spurs were led by Dejounte Murray’s 21 points and 10 rebounds. He shot 47 percent from the floor and went 2-for-4 from beyond the arc. He had three assists and two steals, remaining aggressive on defense.

However, Murray also had some errors late in the game as he pushed the ball up the court and that resulted in two consecutive turnovers leading to points for the Grizzlies. One of those actually led Poeltl into committing his sixth foul of the game. Moving forward, he will learn to read the defense and the situation better as he gets more into game mode.

“I’m just enjoying going out to compete,” Murray said.

Project Spurs illustration/Courtesy: @NBATV
DeMar DeRozan

As mentioned above, DeRozan is in his element and continues to take over down the stretch. He did miss two free throws to give the Spurs a four-point lead but he had two key buckets and sank two free throws in the final seconds to lift San Antonio to victory.

The Spurs will need DeMar to continue this trend if San Antonio wants to have a chance at locking up another postseason berth.

Derrick White

Derrick White continues to show his growth and development as he put in another solid game on both ends of the court. He finished with 16 points, six rebounds, and seven assists.

Defensively, he made life tough for Morant early on and was active as he got his hands in the passing lanes, and his ability to read the plays from the opponents just gets better with every passing game. Thanks to his play, the Spurs are now 2-0 in the bubble and are in the right position.

“We’re just going to keep doing what we’re doing,” White said. “We came in with a lot of confidence with the group we have.”


The Spurs are now 29-36 on the season and will return to the court tomorrow night to face off against the Philadelphia 76ers (39-27) at 7 p.m.


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