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What we learned from the Spurs win over the Grizzlies

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Manu and Rudy were the drivers and Aldridge was the engine.

NBA: San Antonio Spurs at Memphis Grizzlies Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

For the second time in three days, the Spurs squared off with the struggling Memphis Grizzlies in a game that was never really close after the first quarter. The Grizzlies looked disinterested in stretches defensively and the Spurs quickly took advantage, as the frontcourt dominated for a second straight game. Here are the takeaways from our first night of December basketball.

Observations:

  • I am running out of positive things to say about LaMarcus Aldridge. The consistency that the the Spurs' all-star has played with this season has been unbelievable, and it's not just his offense. To go along with his 22 points and 6 boards against the Griz, Aldridge shut down one of the best big men in the league in Marc Gasol (16 points on 6-16 shooting). This is the franchise player the Spurs signed two years ago. If his high level of play continues throughout the year, and he is not in the MVP conversation, it will be a travesty.
  • If there's one glaring weakness that's stood out in Kyle Anderson’s game this season, it's his ability to fight around screens. That's something that will be exposed come playoff time if he's not hidden on the right player. Other than that it was a pretty slow night at the office for #1. He wasn't as aggressive on offense as he’s been, but he didn't have to be with Rudy Gay and Aldridge putting on a clinic in the front court.
  • Manu Ginobili had a productive game off the bench Saturday night. The legendary sixth man was a key part of the second quarter run that put the Spurs in the drivers seat for the rest of the game, as he quietly flirted with a triple double (11 points, 6 boards, 7 assists). What I've noticed 22 games in, is that Ginobili has done a much better job of getting his feet set, and squaring up when he shoots from beyond the arc this season. The past few years it's seemed like he's always been drifting or fading away when he winds up from distance. What's been a little alarming about his play this year though, is his recklessness passing the ball. Manu has always been a risk taker, but he seems to have taken that label a little too seriously this season. However, if there's anything I've learned in my 18 years of Spurs fandom, it's to never doubt #20.
  • Man, Danny Green had a rough night shooting the ball. The former TarHeel went 0-7 (0-4 from deep) against a team that he has historically played very well against. Still, I wouldn't put much stock in one performance. Nights like this happen over the course of an NBA season, and Danny's shown he has the resilience to bounce back.
  • I thought that Mills was spectacular during certain stretches against the Grizzlies backcourt. He didn’t drop 20 points and 10 dimes, but that's not his job. The Aussie gunner is supposed to run the offense, attack when needed, and space the floor. He did all of that tonight. Great game for Patty.
  • Rudy Gay had some dominant stretches against his former team Friday night. For the first time in what seems like a month, we finally started to see Gay exploit his mismatches both off the dribble and in the high-post. If the 31 year old forward can put this type of performance on replay, his versatility and ability to get to the free throw line will provide the second unit with the firepower it lacked last season.
  • When the Spurs keep the ball moving, few benefit as much as Bryn Forbes. The second year sharpshooter has been automatic from deep this season. Granted, his defense has been suspect at times and his handle can get him into some uncomfortable situations when pressured, but #11 does his job night in and night out. It will depend on the matchup, but I expect Forbes to make an impact come playoff time.
  • Tony Parker did not quite have his legs under him at the FedEx Forum. #9 didn’t look comfortable against the Grizzlies. Granted it’s only his third game back in action so I wouldn't put too much stock into the performance. But I would not expect an uptick in his minutes anytime soon.