The Spurs seem to be getting things together at the perfect time; a reoccurring theme of this franchise. The silver and black had the opportunity tonight to better position themselves to climb even higher in the western conference standings, as well as cap off a brilliant month of play during March with one more left against Miami.
The Grizzlies' premier perimeter defender Tony Allen sat out tonight with a hamstring injury, allowing veteran Vince Carter to make his way into the starting line-up, who only plays about 16 minutes per game.
Four different Spur starters scored the first four buckets allowing for a quick 14-4 lead to start the game. Spurs moved the ball well offensively and had active hands on defense that led to some easy transition buckets and caused an early Memphis time-out.
SA played with a great sense of urgency in the first quarter. Kawhi Leonard looked to attack the aged Carter, Tim Duncan got six quick points inside, and Danny Green didn't hesitate on his shot. Tony Parker struggled to get himself going early, but was still being aggressive, which is half the battle. Duncan and Parker both picked up two early fouls and sat down early, but strong bench play gave the Spurs a 28-21 lead at the end of one. Zach Randolph, who is always a problem for San Antonio, had 10 points and pulled down five boards in the first quarter.
It's always reassuring to see the good guys start off a game in this fashion, but if this season is any indication, no lead is safe. Sure enough, Memphis made it's run in the second quarter. A couple of bad possessions from San Antonio, and a couple of back-to-back dunks from Jeff Green and Kosta Koufos brought the Grizzlies within two. Boris Diaw, who had 10 points and five rebounds in just eight minutes of play, was the main factor that allowed the Spurs bench to maintain the lead.
The lethal line-up consisting of Duncan, Parker, Kawhi, Manu Ginobili, and Tiago Splitter extended the lead to nine to end the first half. The Spurs played a clean first two quarters, with only three turnovers to the Grizzlies seven. Boris Diaw led the Spurs with 10, while Green and Randolph led all scores with a dozen a piece.
The Grizz made a quiet run midway through the third to cut the lead to three. The Spurs couldn't find an answer for Zach Randolph, but luckily Marc Gasol couldn't get himself going.. Coach Pop trusted the bench to close out the quarter, and they were able to hang onto to a small four point lead to head into the fourth.
Jeff Green had a surprisingly good game and was able to keep Memphis in it, but Kawhi made the fourth quarter his personal work of art on both ends of the court. He simply took over when the Grizzlies put Nick Calathes on him. Jeff Green also had a shot at containing him but Leonard wasn't going to be stopped. He had the Spurs first 15 points of the fourth quarter. FIFTEEN POINTS.
After that, Parker decided to join the fun. Tony had an "and-1" tear-drop job followed by a behind-the-back pass to Tiago for an "and-1" of his own that put the Spurs up 16 with six minutes left to play.
Your Spurs provided a beautiful finish to this game, topping Memphis 103-89, and improve to 47-26.
If my memory is correct, the Spurs led the entire game, which is a good sign as we approach the post-season, especially for the critics who doubt the Spurs consistency throughout games.
The Spurs only turned the ball over eight times, a noticeably clean game, and assisted on over half of their makes.
The Spurs beat the Grizzlies in nearly every category: FG%, rebounds, assists, blocks, and turnovers. The only thing that didn't go right for San Antonio was the three-pointer, where they went 4-for-17.
Kawhi had a ridiculous 15 points straight in the first five minutes of the fourth, and ended with 25 points on 11-of-17 shooting, and 10 rebounds. I can't say it enough, he gets better every minute he's on the court.
The Spurs shot 9-for-10 to start off the fourth quarter. That may be the best thing to take from this game. Closing out games strong is obviously extremely important in the playoffs, and was something the Spurs struggled with early in the season.
The Spurs went 3-0 in their three game home stretch. Out of ALL three games against Dallas, OKC, and Memphis, the Spurs only trailed for 79 seconds. Yes, you read that correctly.
Your Spurs head to Miami to face the Heat on Tuesday on TNT.