That pretty much sums up the kind of night the Memphis Grizzlies had, losing at home to the San Antonio Spurs, who were playing their third game in four nights and were just one day removed from a heartbreaking overtime loss to the Dallas Mavericks.
For the Spurs, it was a throwback to the dynasty era that was heavily based on defense. Going into tonight’s game, it was easy to paint a target on one player’s back who the Spurs needed to stop. Since Zach Randolph has been out, Gay has stepped up and before last night’s game was putting up all-star numbers.
After scoring 24 points against the Clippers and 18 against the Suns, Gay accounted for, that’s right, just one of the Grizzlies’ 73 points. The Spurs beat the Grizzlies in just about every aspect and stopping Gay seemed to be the icing on the cake.
After shouldering the blame for LeBron James’ 33 point outburst a few weeks ago, Leonard deserves the majority of the credit for the defensive effort on Gay. Aside from hounding and frustrating Gay, he jumped into passing lanes for a few steals and managed a double-double.
While the Grizzlies tried to fight back in the fourth quarter, the only quarter they outscored the Spurs, it wasn’t enough to dig themselves out of the whole they dug themselves all night.
The win gave the Spurs their third road win and they are now 13-9 on the season.
Yesterday, Jeff Garcia noted five things to watch for in last night’s game.
• It’s a good thing the Spurs’ record is above .500. Memphis is 3-7 against teams with winning records.
• Memphis is holding their heads above water while Randolph is out of action. The Grizzlies are 9-6 since Randolph has been nursing a torn right MCL.
• Might not want to let O.J. Mayo get hot from behind the arch. Mayo is shooting a career-high 41% from downtown.
• So Marc Gasol might be a problem as usual. Gasol won his first career NBA Player of the Week Award for the week of January 16 averaging 19.5 points, 9.8 rebounds, 4.5 assists, and 2.5 blocks on .673 shooting in 36.3 minutes helping Memphis to a 4-0 stretch.
• Memphis can get hot early. Memphis shot above .600 in the first half in three-straight games from January 16-20 becoming the first NBA team to has such a streak since the Clippers did so last season.
Memphis’ troubles with above .500 teams continued and they are now 3-8 against winning teams. They also continue to slide down the Western conference rankings without Randolph and their loss to the Spurs was their fourth straight loss. Gasol also finished with nothing resembling player of the week numbers. He had seven points and 12 rebounds in just under 35 minutes.
“Kawhi’s job is to play defense and to rebound. He enjoys the role and he’s getting better and better at it as he figures out who he’s playing against. He’s catching onto it. For a rookie, the starting and playing like he is is a testament to his attentiveness and his learning ability.” -Spurs coach Gregg Popovich
By the numbers
5 – Three pointers made by Matt Bonner, enough to lead the Spurs in scoring.
12 – Assists by Tony Parker. Parker is currently averaging a career-high 7.8 assists per game and has had 10+ assists in three of his last six games.
0-7 – Rudy Gay’s shooting percentage from the field
30 – Bench scoring for the Spurs, compared to the Grizzlies’ 14.
Leonard finished tonight’s game with 12 points, 10 rebounds, two steals, one blocked shot and one frustrated Rudy Gay, while Cory Joseph played just under 30 seconds at the end of the game.