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The Great Dismal: Spurs play their worst game of the year against hungry Grizzlies

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The Grizzlies stymied the Spurs, who couldn’t score without Kawhi Leonard.

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

Kawhi Leonard was a late scratch for the Spurs as Coach Pop decided to not risk aggravating the thigh contusion he had suffered against the Thunder. Pau Gasol was also missing, still out with the broken finger that is expected to sideline him until after the All Star Break.

Jonathon Simmons and Dewayne Dedmon started in their places tonight, but neither of them were able to have much of an impact on the game. You really can’t blame them for the loss because just about every Spur had a dismal performance. This awful night was capped by the Spurs scoring just nine points in the final quarter, as the Grizzlies won easily.

LaMarcus Aldridge struggled with poor shooting and turnovers, as the pesky Memphis defenders did their best to constantly poke the ball loose. For some reason, Aldridge seemed out of sorts for most of the game, and he virtually disappeared late after he got into foul trouble. I’m beginning to think that LaMarcus is a good complementary piece, but he’s not the kind of player who can take over a game when he’s the center of attention. As Kawhi’s sidekick, he’s fine. He’s more of a Robin than a Batman.

Patty Mills also had an awful game, missing open shots and even throwing bad passes that turned fast breaks into turnovers. At least he found Danny Green a wide open shot from deep.

The Grizzlies were unspectacular offensively, but they played the best defense that the Spurs have seen all year. San Antonio couldn’t hit any outside shots, and when they went into the paint, the Grizzlies always had someone there to block the shot or force an errant pass. It was a masterful defensive performance, and the Grizzlies will be a difficult matchup for the Spurs should they meet in the playoffs.

I usually write a lot more words in these articles, but it’s hard to say anything when everyone on the Spurs played badly. Well, almost. Kyle Anderson played well and provided some spark for much of the third quarter. David Lee played really hard and was one of the better performers on the offensive end for the Spurs, but he wasn’t big or quick enough to defend the Memphis bigs. Danny Green played reasonably well, and his handle looks better than it ever has, but he’s not and never will be a player that can create his own shot.

Well, it’s only one loss, and the Spurs are firmly ensconced in second place in the Western Conference playoff race. It’s on to Philadelphia on Wednesday for a meeting with the young 76ers, led by former Spurs assistant Brett Brown. Joel Embiid is still injured but he might play on Wednesday, as the Spurs seek to even up their record on the Rodeo Road Trip.

Music Break

I thought I’d leave you with something a little different. Zoe Keating is playing at the Parish in Austin on February 17. It’s a show I’d recommend checking out (I’ll be there):