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San Antonio vs. Memphis, Final Score: Spurs slowly grind Grizzlies to dust 94-68

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The San Antonio Spurs used a team effort to surge past a tough but overmatched Memphis Grizzlies squad behind a suffocating defense led by newly-minted Defensive Player of the Year Kawhi Leonard.

Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

The Memphis Grizzlies showed a lot of pride and grit, but they didn't have anyone who could score enough points as the Spurs--led by Defensive Player of the Year Kawhi Leonard--suffocated their offense. The margin of victory in Game two wasn't quite as large as in the first game, but it didn't matter to the Grizzlies who could only watch as the Spurs slowly increased their lead as the game wore on and wore them out.

Game Flow:

LaMarcus Aldridge scored the first points for the good guys on a mid-range jumper off a Tony Parker assist. The Spurs offensive movement looked good to start the game, but the Spurs had trouble finding the range. Danny Green hit a three and LaMarcus hit a few jumpers, but Tony Parker's attempts clanked off the rim and Kawhi Leonard's shots couldn't find the bottom of the net. The Grizzlies had even more trouble scoring, but Vince Carter, Zach Randolph and Tony Allen each scored baskets to get the score to 9-8 with 4 and a half minutes left in the first.  But the Spurs picked up the defense with a brutal block on Zach Randolph by LaMarcus, while Manu Ginobili worked his magic on offense and the quarter ended with the Spurs up 22-11 with the final points scored by Patty Mills on a rainbow three.  Once again, the Silver and Black had closed out a quarter with a ... Silver and Black ... flourish.

The Grizzlies rebounded a bit as the second quarter started, with a dunk by Jarrell Martin and Tony Allen, sandwiched around a Manu three.  Memphis' energetic play led to an early timeout from Gregg Popovich with 9:45 left when the Grizzlies cut the lead to 8.  Tim Duncan Boris Diaw got a layup out of the timeout [EDIT: it was credited to Boris Diaw, thanks to Matthew Medler for the correction], but Memphis answered and cut the lead to 6 at 27-21.  But then Mills activated for a jumper and a long three to put the good guys up 32-21, bring the lead back to where it had been at the beginning of the quarter.  Boris Diaw used his bulk inside to counter Randolph, and even Kevin Martin's funky-looking shot began to fall.

Tony uncorked the basket with a jumper for his first points, and the Spurs led by 16 with 2 and a half minutes left in the first half. But things got rough as the Grizzlies dove for loose balls and fought their heart out but only closed the gap by two to enter the locker room down 49-35.

Both teams started slowly in the second half, but Tony Parker picked up where he left off with a layup to open the scoring and Danny Green hit a three to stretch the lead to 54-35. But the Grizzlies picked up a quick three ponts on the next trip with a Vince Carter jumper and a foul shot for a defensive three second violation. Memphis closed the score to 56-42 leading to a Popovich timeout with 7:09 left in the third quarter. LaMarcus started to hit his shots, but Vince Carter tried to help the Grizzlies keep pace. Zach Randolph drew a crowd every time he touched the ball, and couldn't help his team much. The defense of Tony Allen was keeping the game ugly and both teams had trouble scoring in the third. Spurs turnovers allowed the Grizzlies to keep pace for most of the third but a late Patty Mills three helped the Spurs outscored their opponent 21-18 to go into the fourth up 70-53.

In game 1, the Spurs entered the final quarter up 30, leading to extended garbage time. But in tonight's game, the Grizzlies had a sliver of hope left, and the Spurs would have to work to close out the game. Kyle Anderson started strong for the good guys, yanking down rebounds and drawing fouls. The Spurs got into the bonus with 10 minutes left in the fourth when tony Allen got his fifth foul and stretched their lead to 21.   Boban Marjanovic came into the game with 6:32 left with the Spurs up 80-61 and Andre Miller quickly followed.

David West gave his best Kawhi impersonation with a steal and a breakaway dunk halfway through the quarter, and you could see the faint traces of hope draining from the faces of the Grizzlies players. In garbage time, Spurs fans were treated to a Kevin Martin three and a David West jumper as the disconsolate Grizzlies could only watch.

About last night:

I know these Final Score articles are just supposed to be about the game you just watched but I just want to say something about a game last night.  It was astounding how Rick Carlisle beat the Thunder using Dirk Nowitski, an empty Tic Tac container, a paper clip and a pair of AA batteries.  I think I found a film clip of some of Carlisle's earlier work:

Observations:

  • Xaver Munford is my favorite player in the NBA playoffs whose name begins with an 'X'.
  • The Spurs outscored the Grizzlies in every quarter of the game, which leads to an interesting statistic:  Spurs always win when this happens.
  • Reggie Miller is just terrible as an announcer. He has lots of opinions, most of them wrong.
  • JaMychal Green is pretty athletic. I think he's going to be a decent player, it's too bad the Spurs had to let him go.
  • Quality of play: RUGGED. The referees let both teams get away with a lot of contact under the basket.
  • I like playoff Ginobili.
  • The Grizzlies are obviously overmatched, but they play with a lot of heart and intensity. Dave Joerger is doing a great job keeping them together.
  • Lance Stephenson played only 7 minutes in the first three quarters.  I'm scratching my head over this one, since he's probably one the best players they have left on the roster.
  • Empty seats!  Who are these crazy people who are leaving a playoff game early? It actually got quieter in the arena late in the game.
  • Writing advice from the game thread is pretty great: Use a lot of adjectives. Or repeatedly throw in words like "obviously," "literally," "ironically," and "avuncular" without any consideration of how they fit. -- 0signal
"Poets are musicians that can't sing."--Patrick Rothfuss

Dedicated to Boris Diaw and Timmy Duncan, who have birthdays this week.

Final words

The series continues on Friday night in Memphis with Game 3 which begins at 8:30 Spurs time. It's obviously do-or-die time for the ursine beasts from Tennessee, since no team has ever come back from a 3-0 deficit to win a seven-game series in the NBA.  The Spurs will want to be sharp and close out the series quickly and get ready for the winners of the Thunder/Mavs series.  It's going to be the Thunder, right? There's no way Carlisle can work that kind of crazy magic trick three more times ... or can he?