Let's have a look at that Game 4, 3rd quarter. (The play-by-play is at the very bottom)
Summary: The Spurs failed to score in the first 4 1/2 minutes of the quarter, and Memphis goes on a 14-0 run.Our guys were shooting themselves in the foot the entire quarter. If the early drought wasn't so long, they could have possibly taken the lead or at least been within striking distand going into the 4th. That's becuase they did respond after a Pop timeout and were down by only 5 with 4:34 in the quarter. But instead, they traded blows the rest of the quarter and by the end of it, trailed by 13. By that time some of our guys were frustrated, dejected, and the game was basically out of reach.
Here's what went wrong:
Splitter was a bit anxious and hurt us early in the quarter. Parker and Duncan each had a TO early in the quarter. And the duo each gave another gift to Memphis later on in the quarter. Parker and Manu each take a 3, that they probably should not have. McDyess and RJ miss the only outside shot each of them take during the quarter. The Spurs lose focus on defense, foul too much, put Memphis in the penalty early, giving easy points while having to earn most of their's the hard way. Thus, the Spurs become more fatigued as the quarter goes on. Manu closes the quarter with a TO. If Memphis had hit more of their shots, they could have easily ended the quarter up by 18-20. The Spurs really played that bad.
Analysis: 1st point: In hindsight, the Spurs would have been better off with McDyess starting the quarter. Perhaps his technical in the 2nd quarter resulted in Pop starting Splitter in the 3rd? McDyess didn't do anything special, but played better D, was more under control and comitted fewer fouls than Splitter.
2nd point: We needed Neal much earlier in the quarter than with 7:38, down by 12. Neal can get off his own shot and can hit contested shots from the outside much better than Parker and RJ. If he had some playing time and touches we would have got some points during that 4 1/2 min scoring drought to start the quarter. He hit on his only shot late in the quarter.
3rd point: The Spurs looked like the Mavs, in that they made a cluster of mental mistakes, and then played with tentitiveness instead of agression. This was evident some in Parker and Duncan, each with 2 TO's, Hill's mental mistake, and Bonner's TO. I think that happens naturally while on the road. It's the natural tendency to tighten up when things start to go wrong with your play all of a sudden, and you fall behind on the scorboard. Memphis' physicality definitely adds to it and gives them a mental edge. I have to give them credit for that. The officials letting them play their way certainly helps though.
The Spurs have to have better poise on the road while under the pressure of a crucial game starting to slip away. In such situations, hoisting outside shots is risky, because it adds to the loss of momentum when you miss them. So you better make them when you take them. Attacking the basket, and FT's are much safer way to regain control of the tempo. Quite frankly, it all could have looked much worse for the Spurs if Memphis hadn't settled for so many outside shots.
4th Point- We shot 55% in the first half, and if not for the terrible start to the 3rd, we could have finished the game close to that and won. But the poor decisions, poor execution, and lack of poise in the 3rd quarter changed all of that. Granted, Splitter a rookie, contributed to this. But from a veteran team, you expect better composure from your veterans on the road. Then again, I've seen this before from the Big-3. Someone has to step up in situations like this. Who do you want?
Gary Neal anyone....?
Seriously, that's who I want. He's fearless, quick, not turnover prone, can creat his own shot, has mid-range game, and can bang it with a hand in his face. Did I mention that he's not turn over prone?
I really believe that the Spurs are capable of beating Memphis 3 times in a row. But that happens only if they take better care of the ball, don't foul so much, and avoid the scoring droughts. The biggest 2 concerns for me are the mental mistakes on defense and the potential for another scoring drought. One more, and the season is likely over.
For that reason, I hope Manu's elbow miraculously gets better so he can catch fire and that Neal gets more playing time and shots. Or at the very least, that Parker and Duncan takes better care of the ball, and that shot selection improves.
Play-by Play of 3rd Quarter:
At the half, we were up by 2, 50-48 . Then the following happened to start the 3rd quarter,
Sam Young hit's an open J'.
RJ misses an open J'.
Splitter fouls Gasol on the block, 2 FT's
Splitter misses from point blank range inside
Parker TO, indecisive and decides to pass at last second instead of shoot the open J'.
Splitter jumps to cover Conely on the P&R and leaves Gasol wide open in the paint, Ginoboli has to foul, 2 FT's
Parker shoots and misses a corner 3 with 16 on the shot clock
Splitter helps on a Conely drive by Parker and trying to take the charge, is called for a block, 2 FT's
Duncan in the post TO
Allen spinning inside draws a foul on Hill,
Duncan misses in the paint
Foul on Duncan trying to swipe the ball on the perimeter from Young, 2 FT's
Manu rushes up a 3, misses
Manu gets lazy and lets Allen cut to the basket for a layup
Allen doubles Duncan, TO, and Young get a breakaway dunk
New score: 50- 62 Memphis, with 7:38 left in the 3rd. timeout Pop, and he is pissed.
Play resumes, Pop inserts Neal
On a loose ball scramble, Parker gets a layup
Allen hits a mid range J'.
Manu hits a 3, and it's 55-64
Memphis misses a J'
Parker drive and layup, 57-64
Parker goes behind the pick, and Conley hits the long 2
Manu draw a foul, hits 2 FT's
Young misses a J'
Duncan with a dunk.
Timeout Memphis, 61-66 with 4:34
Young misses an outside shot
McDyess misses from top of the key
and on the break Parker TO throws a pass by RJ and we give it back
Randolph gets his own put back
Duncan scores in the paint
Conely hits from outside
Parker misses from outside
Gasol steals offensive rebound from Duncan and puts it back in 63-70
Neal step back J', 65-72
Conely misses from outside
Duncan TO and foul,
Battier hits 2 FT's, 65, 74
Bonner instead of passing to Hill up close, goes long to RJ and TO
Arthur hits outside shot over Bonner
Next poss: non shooting foul on Memphis, Hill takes the inbounds, Battier has tight D on Manu, Hill hesitates with the pass and losses his dribble, has to chuck up a deep 3 in order to beat the shot clock.
P&R, Arthur hits again from outside
Last possesion of 3rd Q. Manu is double teamed and turns it over
65-78, by then the game is basically over.