The Spurs faced off against a division rival in their final tune-up before the regular season. Although these are not yesterday’s Grizzlies with Marc Gasol and Mike Conley gone, it still felt like a classic Grit ‘n Grind game between the two clubs. It was low-scoring, sloppy, and defensive-oriented, but the Spurs still came away with the 104-91 victory despite a poor shooting night.
- Gregg Popovich went with the same starting line-up as he did against Houston, with Trey Lyles starting in place of Jakob Poeltl. He just might be coming around to starting small after seeing the difference it made on offense. Whether Lyles remains the starting 4 is another story. Rudy Gay (who played tonight after sitting out with hamstring soreness) or DeMarre Carroll appear more fit for the job.
- Of course, the flip side of starting small (and probably the reason Pop doesn’t like it) is points in the paint. The Grizzlies won that battle 48-34, somewhat offsetting the Spurs’ dominance from three (more on that below).
- DeMar DeRozan took and made two three pointers in the first six minutes of the game, both off the catch, and three on the night. It will take a lot more than three attempts in five games (four if you count the one against NOLA that didn’t count because of a foul) to convince to anyone that he’s adding it to his arsenal, but if he is — and even if it’s just enough that defenses have to respect him along the perimeter — it will go a long way towards spreading out the offense for the starters.
- After a good first quarter, the Spurs shot poorly the rest of the night, hitting just 39.6 percent of their shots. They also only hit 18-28 from the line and committed 19 turnovers. Three-point shooting was their saving grace tonight as they hit 14-31 from three (compared to just 7-35 for the Grizzlies). At least it appears they have gotten the message about shooting more threes after only attempting 13 vs. the Heat three games ago, and tonight it paid off.
- Although they maintained a double digit lead throughout most of the game, it was never more than 15 (which came right before Memphis scored the final bucket) and could have been more for the reasons listed above. Yes, it’s just the preseason, but the Spurs struggled putting away lesser teams last season, and it cost them. Taking better advantage of chances like this is something they need to fix if they want to improve in an even stiffer Western Conference.
- The fact that scoring lines like 14 points on 50% shooting are becoming so normal for Bryn Forbes that it barely stands out tells you all you need to know about how far he has come.
- It was one of those nights where he didn’t do anything special, including hit a basket, but the offense flowed well with Derrick White in the game, and he made his usual defensive impact. It’s not often that a player with just 2 points leads the team in plus-minus, but from watching the game his +19 felt right, not like a fluke or a case of who he was on the floor with or against. (And no, he never shared the floor with Dejounte Murray.)
- Lonnie Walker IV again didn’t see playing time until the fourth quarter, but he continued to impress when he was out there. Marco Belinelli has played well enough that he hasn’t un-earned his minutes (is that a word?), but it will be tough keeping Walker off the court if he keeps this up.
For the Grizzlies fan’s perspective, visit Grizzly Bear Blues.
That’s the end of the preseason! The regular season begins on Wednesday with Marcus Morris and the New York Knicks coming to town. Tip-off will be at 7:30 PM CT on KENS 5.