You have to respect the Memphis Grizzlies. From the beginning, they were overmatched in this series, but they never gave up, and Dave Joerger had his team play hard every minute they were out there. But the superior firepower of the Spurs, with Kawhi Leonard dominating on both ends of the floor won out in the end, as the Spurs pulled away in the second half and closed out the Grizzlies for a four game sweep, giving them a much-needed respite to prepare for their second round matchup.
After LaMarcus Aldridge missed a shot, Zach Randolph hit a jumper to put the Grizzlies ahead by 2. LaMarcus Aldridge answered with a pair of free throws and a basket, but a Tony Allen steal and Grizzly break equaled the score. The teams traded baskets for a while, but a defensive three second call on Aldridge put Memphis up by one. After Randolph got under the basket and used a Wes Unseld-like move to clear out just enough space make a layup under Tim Duncan's outstretched arms. which put them up by three with 7:34 left in the quarter.
Mills for three. It's good. The #Spurs sure know how to punish the double team on the post. https://t.co/05IhFmkV2y— J.R. Wilco (@jollyrogerwilco) April 24, 2016
At 4:25, both benches came in, and Lance Stephenson and Kyle Anderson, both wearing #1, battled head to head, with Lance getting open shots and Kyle getting rebounds and stops. It was fun watching those guys go at each other, completely different styles. The Spurs finally started to pull out of the mud late in the quarter with a couple of Patty Mills three-point shots and a Boris Diaw back-door layup and finished quarter strong, up 25-19.
"I thought we were really sloppy and unprofessional." -- Gregg Popovich, assessing his team's first quarter performance.
Lance Stephenson started to heat up as the second quarter began, creating his own shot and bring the Grizzlies to within two points, leading to another early Popovich timeout. After the timeout, Tony Parker got the ball and ... apparently, Pop's anger at his team somehow caused an electrical power surge ... because it was at this point that the lights went out in Fed Ex Forum.
Lights went out here at the @FedExForum pic.twitter.com/5k76gNZ7yX— Rachel Santschi (@RachelSantschi) April 24, 2016
Power surge in Memphis means ... more rest for the Spurs in the middle of the 2nd quarter.— J.R. Wilco (@jollyrogerwilco) April 24, 2016
But where will the Machine recharge without power? THE PLOT THICKENS, MY FRIEND. https://t.co/SJbNBudzag— Grizzly Bear Blues (@sbnGrizzlies) April 24, 2016
Coming out of the 18 minute unscheduled break, Lance Stephenson showed that he had no problem staying warm, and hit another pair of baskets sandwiched around a layup by West and tied the game at 27. An exasperated Popovich once again called timeout.
On the next play, Kawhi Leonard
beat the shot clock on a three (which was later ruled to be late, so was taken off the board) to put the Spurs up and blocked a Tony Allen shot and Parker hit free throws to put the Spurs up by 5 2. Vince Carter and Lance answered for the Grizzlies, and the game was tied again. The Grizzlies took the Spurs' best shot, and were still hanging around.
Kawhi hit a three from the top of the key to get back the one that got taken away, and the game was tied at 34 with a little under 5 minutes left in the half. The Spurs went on a little run led by Kawhi Leonard, but Matt Barnes got open on a somewhat illegal-looking screen by Zach Randolph and hit a three along with a foul on Manu for fighting through the screen. The Grizzlies had mucked up the game and the Spurs lead was down to just two at halftime, 47-45.
LaMarcus Aldridge hit the first shot coming out of the break, and the Spurs stepped up the defense, blocking a series of Randolph shots at the rim and Tony got a drive to the rim to put the Spurs up 51-45. Matt Barnes answered and Zach got fouled and hit free throws to once again reduce the margin to two points. Tony Parker scored on a spin move, Kawhi hit a three and LaMarcus had an and-one basket to put the Spurs ahead by nine. With 6:45 left in the quarter, Danny Green stole the inbounds pass and dunked the ball to put the good guys up by 11, 64-53. Tim Duncan scored a pair of layups, on the second one, he bulled into Zach under the basket and got another point to put the Spurs up by 16. Maybe the Spurs were putting it together enough to get some breathing room.
The defense for the Spurs picked up the intensity, leading to turnovers from the Grizzlies. The Grizzlies, led by Stephenson, tried to keep pace, but the Spurs outscored them 37-21 in the quarter, going into the final frame up 84-66.
At the start of the fourth quarter, JaMychal Green showed why Popovich wanted to keep him as a Spur, but he was outplayed by Jonathon Simmons, who hit a timely three point shot to extend the lead to 21 for the good guys. Andre Miller and Boban Marjanovic entered the game for the last 7 minutes and had an immediate impact. The end-of-the-bench guys did their job and kept the game out of reach as time expired. Kyle Anderson hit a three from the corner, which was a good sign for the Spurs going forward into the second round.
- Tim Duncan is 40 tomorrow. He still wins the opening tip, more often than not.
- The Grizzlies only scored 19 points in the first quarter. That's the most points they've scored in the first quarter in this series. Bad news, good news.
- Tony Parker had a hell of a third quarter. Apparently the extra 18 minutes of rest in the first half had an impact.
- When the power went out in the building, the only player on the floor that could still find the basket was Jordan Farmar. He can still use his bat ears and supernormal hearing to echo locate it in the darkness.
- During the power failure, the broadcast team was seen to huddle around Hubie Brown, using his preternaturally white skin for illumination.
- Lance Stephenson is an enigma. He's the only player on the Grizzlies that can create his own offense, but they play him inconsistently. He was really good for them today, but hardly played in some of the other games.
- It's great to have someone like Boban to come in late in games and keep and even extend the lead.
- I like Chris Andersen. Under all those tatoos and crazy facial hair is a pretty cool dude.
More proof that I need a lipreader in staff at PtR. Anderson cracking #KawhiLeonard up after getting called... https://t.co/oPxYMQiIeP— J.R. Wilco (@jollyrogerwilco) April 24, 2016
I like the Starbucks here that's better than the other one
Cause the other one's not as good
--Jonathan Coulton (Shop Vac)
Much as I wanted to jump on the Prince bandwagon, just thinking about the tragic loss makes me Computer Blue. I think this story from Kevin Smith might help you understand what Prince was really like. But today was mostly about taking care of business.
The Spurs will have about a week off, due to the quick closeout of the Grizzlies. The next round will be against the winner of the Mavericks/Thunder series. I'm going to go out on a limb here and say it's going to be OKC. Closing this series out gives the Spurs more time to prepare for the Thunder, who are playing with a ferocious intensity in the postseason and will provide a much stiffer test for the Silver and Black.