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Spurs hold off Grizzlies, win third-straight game

In a possible preview of their first round matchup, San Antonio beat the Grizz for the first time this season.

NBA: Memphis Grizzlies at San Antonio Spurs Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

After losing to the Grizzlies last Saturday night the Spurs have racked up a trio of wins over the Kings, Timberwolves and Grizzlies this week. A win over the Knicks on Saturday night would make it a perfect week for SA and a solid bounce-back after a rare two-game skid.

Thursday night’s game was a pretty competitive contest, with the increased intensity reflecting where we are in the season. The Spurs led for the overwhelming majority of the game, with Memphis’ only lead coming a minute into the game at 3-2. Memphis did tie the game up twice and never let their deficit get out of hand.

LaMarcus Aldridge was active early on and hit half of his eight shots in the first quarter, accounting for nine of the Spurs’ 27 points. After the first 12 minutes of play the Spurs led 27-22. Manu Ginobili, who struggled shooting on the night, had a nice run at the end of the first quarter, tallying three assists while running the offense including a nice feed to Patty Mills as the quarter was coming to a close.

Ginobili knocked down a triple, his only bucket of the game, at the beginning of the second quarter before Memphis put a 6-0 run together to make it a 32-30 contest but a 13-0 run by SA pushed the Spurs’ lead to 15 halfway through the second quarter and it appeared that the camouflaged squad might put the game to bed early.

But it’s 2017 and that doesn’t happen much these days. The Grizzlies cut their deficit down to nine at the half and they slowly chipped away at that during the third. The Spurs’ advantage was down to just five heading into the fourth.

Memphis scored the first five points in the fourth, tying the game for the first time since 21-all late in the first. David Lee, Aldridge and Parker responded with an 11-0 run of their own while Kawhi got some deserved rest with just under five minutes left to play. That push was enough to secure the game for the home team, 97-90.

Your Spurs improve to 55-16 and remain a pair of losses behind the Golden State Warriors for the league’s best record, though it seems less likely that the Spurs can edge the Warriors for homecourt advantage with the Dubs back to their winning ways and the Spurs dropping a pair of winnable contests last week. The Warriors have the Kings, Grizzlies and Rockets before the teams meet on Wednesday night.

Quick Notes:

  • LaMarcus was solid again tonight as he joined the 15,000 career-points club on his last bucket, becoming the 142nd player to do so in NBA history. He’s found some rhythm lately and was the game-high scorer for the second game in a row, putting up an efficient 23 points on 16 shots. In his last four games he’s averaging 22 points per game on 55% shooting from the floor, 7.5 boards, a couple assists and almost two blocks. Yes, Tony Parker did play in all of those contests.
  • Kawhi Leonard looked a little tired after carrying the offensive load for the team for so long and it didn’t help him that the Grizz were sending help for most of the game when he had the ball. He finished with 19 points on 15 shots. After scoring 30+ in six of his first seven games of the month he has been held to 22, 12, 22 and 19 in his last four. He added seven boards, four assists and a steal on Thursday night. He had a great pass to Tony Parker for a just-below-the-break triple out of a double-team that pretty much sealed the game, a testament to his growing skill as a playmaker.
  • Free throws: The Spurs haven’t been very sharp from the charity stripe this month. The team hit 81% (third-best in the league) of their freebies prior to March. They’re shooting only 76.7% since (fifteenth-best in the league). They shot 65% against the Grizz in their win.
  • San Antonio turned the ball over just six times. That’s a season-low. They also notched 26 assists on their 37 buckets.
  • It’s starting to look like Memphis is the most likely first round matchup for the Silver and Black. If I’m being honest I’d prefer the Spurs play OKC instead with Memphis being the more physical of those two potential matchups, especially for Tony and Manu’s aging frames. FWIW, the Spurs have swept the Grizz both times (2013, 2016) they’ve met in the playoffs since Memphis bounced the Spurs out of the playoffs in a 1-8 upset in 2011. SA has been pretty dominant over the Grizz since the summer of 2011, sporting a 25-6 overall record, but I’d expect a series to be a little different this year. Also, I’m a little tired of watching the Spurs play the Grizz, they’ve already played 11 times in the last two seasons with another game on April 4th in Memphis.
  • The Spurs honored 110-year old WWII veteran, RIchard Overton on Military Appreciation Night. About a month ago I watched a delightful short documentary on the man. I highly recommend it and I guarantee you’ll smile.

Up Next:

The Spurs have three more games on their homestand and will host the Knicks on Saturday, the Cavaliers on Monday and the Warriors on Wednesday.