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LaMarcus Aldridge leads shorthanded Spurs past Grizzlies, 101-87

Aldridge's 31 points powered a San Antonio squad that was missing Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, Kawhi Leonard, David West and Tim Duncan.

Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

So this is how meaningless late-season games feel like. It's been a while. Last year the Spurs fought for seeding until the last day, so we didn't suffer through many of these. Now, with eight to go after this 101-87 win over the Grizzlies, we might even get a few more before the playoffs start.

At least LaMarcus Aldridge had a chance to shine. He led all scorers with 31 points while Patty Mills had 17 off the bench. Vince Carter had 14 for the Grizzlies, which just didn't have enough firepower to hang with San Antonio.

The Spurs were officially resting Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, Kawhi Leonard and Tim Duncan. Unofficially, David West was also out. They were lucky to be facing a team so decimated by injuries that Ryan Hollins played 20 minutes. That was the only reason it wasn't surprising to see an Andre Miller - Danny Green - Kyle Anderson - LaMarcus Aldridge - Boban Marjanovic starting unit quickly get a double-digit lead.

The Grizzlies eventually started to play better on both ends, especially when their bench checked in. It wasn't enough to erase the deficit completely but they managed to cut it down from 16 to eight by the half. The Spurs' sloppiness caught up with them and prevented them from creating enough separation to cruise for the rest of the game. Fortunately, they would get another chance.

Early in the third quarter the Spurs' starters, with Aldridge leading the way, pulled away. The All-Star forward was the best player on the floor by such a wide margin that his presence alone guaranteed San Antonio an edge. The rest of the rotation guys were also sharp and the mistakes that plagued the Spurs in the second quarter were avoided. At the end of the third quarter, the Spurs led by 13.

There just wasn't anything the Grizzlies could do to compete on either end late in the game. No comeback attempt materialized. The lead never got below 11 in the fourth quarter and at one point reached 21. Regardless of Memphis' injury issues, it was an impressive performance by the 10-man crew that suited up for the Spurs, which comfortably won on the road.

It might have been a meaningless game, sure, but it got the team its 62nd win of the season and it came against an opponent that, while severely shorthanded, still has the fifth best record in the West.

Game notes

  • There's really not a lot to learn from this type of game, not this late in the season. No one is going to crack the rotation thanks to a good effort on a random night in late March. It was still great to see everyone competing like minutes were on the line, though. That's a credit to both the players' professionalism and the coaching staff's ability to motivate them. The effort was there and that's very commendable. 

  • LaMarcus Aldridge made sure the Spurs got the win. His stat line of 31 points, 13 rebounds, three assists and two blocks shows how dominant his performance was. He was a star among role players. After some early-season struggles, LA is peaking at the right time.

  • Patty Mills and Boris Diaw anchored a thin bench that never looked all that dynamic. Their combined 30 points, seven rebounds and five assists were huge, especially considering the Grizzlies' subs had a good game. I thought Kevin Martin was going to be aggressive on this one but he never really looked comfortable out there. 

  • Kyle Anderson had one of his best games as a pro. He set career-highs for assist (seven) and steals (four) and wreaked havoc on both ends during the first half. His passing was on point and he didn't force anything despite having a bigger role. Slowmo has been solid for a while now and has likely solidified his spot as the fourth wing. 

  • Boban Marjanovic started and had a good game. He finished with five points, nine rebounds and two assists. He was also fouled every other trip down the court but guys that massive don't typically get the benefit of the doubt when they play big minutes. The same used to happen to Yao Ming, and he was a star, so don't expect that to change. Still, he played through it and logged a career-high 30 minutes. 

  • Danny Green's shot was off (0-for-3 from beyond the arc) but like he has typically done this year, he contributed in other areas. He had seven rebounds, two steals and two blocks, proving once again that he's among the best defensive playmakers among guards. 

  • Former Spurs JaMychal Green and Ray McCallum are making the most of their opportunity to play rotation minutes. The big man started and had 12 points, five rebounds and three assists while the point guard finished with 10 points and four assists off the bench. I always like seeing those player that simply weren't right for San Antonio do well elsewhere.

Up next

The Spurs will try to keep their home winning streak alive against another Southwest Division team missing its best players: the Pelicans. Expect everyone to be back for San Antonio, except maybe for Leonard, who is recovering from a quad injury.

For the opponent's perspective, visit Grizzly Bear Blues.