Friday night's battle of the short-handed teams, with the Spurs missing Kawhi Leonard, Danny Green, Patty Mills, and Boris Diaw while the Grizzlies were missing...everyone else, appeared early on like it would be a laugher in favor of San Antonio. However, the Memphis Grizzlies have made tough basketball their trademark the last several years and were not about to just roll over and play dead, even against a Spurs team in the midst of a historic season. Despite some hot shooting and great efforts all around, the visiting team could not overcome LaMarcus Aldridge's 32 point, 12 rebound night and the Spurs came out with a hard fought 110-104 victory. Tony Parker scored 14 points to go along with 5 assists while JaMychal Green led Memphis in scoring with 20.
Tim Duncan and LaMarcus Aldridge abused the Grizzlies' helpless frontcourt to start the game. Timmy played solid minutes, but LaMarcus absolutely annihilated Memphis to the tune of 17 points on 7-8 shooting with most points coming in the paint. In the absence of leading scorer Kawhi Leonard, LaSharkus put on a show and reminded us all that he's had a bit of experience himself leading a team in scoring. Chris Andersen and JaMychal Green combined for 13 of Memphis' first quarter points. Kevin Martin, after turning it over a couple of times early on, settled in and scored 5 points. Once the subs for both teams came in the Spurs began to stretch their lead, and the good guys wound up leading 37-23 after 1.
Vince Carter came off the bench and quickly cut the deficit to single digits. This wouldn't last, however, as Tony Parker and the Big Fun kept the visitors from getting any closer than 7. Andre Miller, in relief of the resting Patty Mills, dished out 3 assists in the frame as he orchestrated the offense like he'd been a Spur for years. The Spurs, and Manu in particular (surprise, surprise), were a bit careless with the ball against their undermanned opponent and finished the half with more turnovers than Memphis. Despite valiant efforts from VC (10 points) and Green (12 points), the Grizzlies had no answer for the aggressive play of Tony, Timmy, LMA, and K-Mart. Timmy posted a typical 2015-2016 stat line of 8 points, 5 boards and 5 assists. The Silver and Black shot a scorching 63.4% in the first half and went into the break with a 64-51 advantage.
The banged-up Grizzlies came out of the locker room rolling as they tightened up the screws on defense while scoring with ease. Lance Stephenson and Matt Barnes were too much for Kevin Martin and Jonathon Simmons as the "colorful" duo lit up the scoreboard. LMA and Tim continued to do their thing in the paint but they weren't getting much help from their teammates. Often the Spurs would waste much of the clock and be forced to put up a bad shot. The game was starting to feel uncomfortable, and even more so when Andre Miller and Ray MacCallum shared the floor together for the first time since Ray was cut from San Antonio to make room for Andre. What once threatened to be a good old fashioned beatdown became a close contest and the Spurs held a mere 88-84 lead going into the fourth.
San Antonio's struggles shooting the ball continued at the start of the final period while JaMychal Green and Lance Stephenson cut the Spurs lead down to just 2. Another nail-biter seemed imminent as the good guys had no answer for the scrappy Grizzlies, but clutch shots from David West, Manu Ginobili, and LaMarcus Aldridge pushed the Spurs lead back to double-digits with a few minutes left in the game. Memphis went on a severe scoring drought after the 7 minute-mark. The Silver and Black haven't dropped a game at home all season and they cranked up the intensity down the stretch to make sure it stayed that way. It wasn't pretty, but this game still gets put in the "W" column. K-Mart played 33 minutes, J-Simms got some burn for the first time in a while, and four of our guys rested up. Silver linings all around. A win is a win. Go Spurs go!