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Final Score, San Antonio @ Memphis: Grizzlies defense crushes the Spurs 89-74

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The Spurs score their lowest point total of the season against the always-hustling Grizzlies.

NBA: San Antonio Spurs at Memphis Grizzlies Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

With Kawhi Leonard out with a thigh contusion, the Spurs struggled to score against the stout Grizzlies defense. Despite their poor play for most of the first three quarters, the Silver and Black were still competitive with 12 minutes to go, but a dismal fourth quarter performance – scoring just 9 points in the quarter – doomed them to a loss. The Grizzlies defense completely shut down the Spurs late and the final result wasn’t even close as Memphis walked off with an easy win.

Game Flow

Q1 – Both teams were cold to start the game, and halfway through the first the score was tied at 6 apiece. It didn’t improve much after that, but the Grizzlies got Zach Randolph and JaMychal Green good looks at the basket with crisp ball movement to lead 17-14 after one.

Q2 – The bench unit started to take the game back in the second quarter with tough defense from Kyle Anderson leading to a pretty layup at the other end. By the time Manu Ginobili scored on a Gervinesque finger roll, the Spurs had a three point lead.

The Grizzlies earned back the lead with grit and grind play inside, but the Spurs shooting touch returned to make up the deficit. At the half, the score was tied at 40 each. In an era where offense is king, defense decided to usurp the throne. At least for a half.

Q3 – The Grizzly defense started to harass the Spurs ball handlers and Tony Allen led the way with 9 points in the quarter to put Memphis up eight. Key shots from Manu Ginobili and Danny Green brought the Silver and Black back into it, but a late three point shot from Toney Douglas put the Grizzlies up 69-65 after three.

Q4 – The Grizzlies were the aggressors to start the fourth, and pushed the lead to eight after a Vince Carter circus shot and a Brandan Wright layup. Things started to take a turn for the worse; LaMarcus picked up his fifth foul and the team started off 1-14 in the quarter. The Grizzlies defense was relentless. LaMarcus got free on a fast break, but he ended up turning the ball over. The Spurs couldn’t even hit free throws and Mike Conley’s and-one layup put Memphis up 83-70 with just under 5 minutes left. The Spurs scored four points the rest of the way en route to an 89-74 defeat.

Random Thoughts

  • I told my editor I was going to write this article using only emojis. He said OK. He knows me too well. I just decided to use it for the game flow portion of the recap.
  • Personal note, tonight I’m writing both the Final Score (this article) and the recap. So if you don’t like this one, come back in an hour or so.
  • The lead-in game to this one, Washington vs. Cleveland, was really entertaining. After a somewhat lackluster January, the Cavs are starting to put it together, and Korver is starting to integrate himself into the system as a valuable piece. The Wizards are also talented, so this may be a year where not all of the best teams are in the Western Conference.
  • Just gonna throw this out there. The Spurs without Kawhi aren’t the Spurs. They have trouble scoring and defending.

Music

Appropos of nothing, here’s a song about a guy who says he’s Rick Springfield, sung entirely in (bad) French.

Final thoughts

The Spurs now sit at 39-12 and they are still in second place in the Western Conference. The Rodeo Road Trip continues on Wednesday at 6 PM with game two against the 76ers. Philly coach Brett Brown said he doesn’t know if Joel Embiid will be back in the lineup by then.