There’s always a few games a season where, for whatever reason, your team plays another a lot closer than pretty much anyone feels was really necessary. Whether or not it’s that your team plays down to the other’s level, or that the other team steps it up a notch or seven, isn’t really important, because what is important, is how annoying it is. In recent years, you might have a palpable reason to call this weird affliction “Spurs Disease”.
Over the past few seasons, The San Antonio Spurs have had an almost perverse proclivity to slum it against teams they should be beating handily. Teams like the Clippers, Bobcats, Sonics (I do not acknowledge “The Thunder”), Wolves, and last night, the Grizzlies, have all been made to look better than they are by the oft-lazy Spurs. The lone disclaimer in this is that the Hawks have temporarily forgotten that they are the Hawks and have been quietly not having a terrible season.
In yet another marathon double overtime game against a team that should have been out of it by halftime, the Spurs allowed the Grizzlies to stay in it by being out-rebounded on both ends of the floor. Offensive rebounds again stuck out the most as they allowed Marc Gasol easy lay-ups to the tune of a 15 point, 10 rebound stat line. Both Gasol and reserve Hakim Warrick had productive games in the paint, and combined with OJ Mayo’s 29 point outing, the Grizzlies were a little tougher to stop than normal.
Still, this write-up is about the winners, and the Spurs managed to get away when it mattered most. Despite the numerous chances Memphis had to win it late, Tony Parker managed to continue to turn away the aggressive youngsters with several key baskets down the stretch. Parker’s 32 points however, almost weren’t enough, as the game was only safe after Michael Finley (wtf?) swatted Memphis’ final attempt away.
Parker’s performance was complimented nicely by Tim Duncan, who offered 29 points before fouling out in the first overtime. Manu Ginobili rounded out the Big Three’s scoring with a 20 point outing.
Memphis’ young core of players could probably take as much credit for the Spurs’ victory as could the Spurs themselves. Despite being up by 11 in the third, and visibly having a good time, they couldn’t keep the composure and allowed the aging Spurs to climb back into the game. The Grizzlies performance did offer a lot on which they can grow however, as their young players stretched their geriatric opponents to the limit. Memphis coach Marc Iavaroni echoed this sentiment, remarking that his team “was getting there, but not there yet.”
The Spurs, ripe with the experience that comes from being the league’s resident retirement home, were able to take their own positives from the game. Duncan debatably remarked that the win was “a huge one”, putting to rest the notion that huge wins typically come against good teams. He did provide a small nugget of truth when he revealed that his team “found a way to win.”
Hey, even a crash landing is still a landing…<!--EndFragment-->