The San Antonio Spurs headed into game 5 of the Rodeo Road Trip desperate to end a 4-game skid and turn things back around before the All-Star break. After a lazy first quarter, the Spurs’ offense came alive in the second and third quarters before the defense held on for a 108-107 win over the pesky, new-look Memphis Grizzlies.
LaMarcus Aldridge and Patty Mills each had 22 points for the Spurs, while newly-acquired Grizzlies Avery Bradley and Jonas Valanciunas had 33 and 23 points, respectively.
- I have missed Tim Duncan’s pregame shenanigans, especially his harassment of Sean Elliott when the cameras are rolling, so it was some nice nostalgia when Mills pretended to crash into Matt Bonner, who called tonight’s game alongside Dan Weiss.
- Rudy Gay gave the Spurs their first points of the game with a nice poster dunk over Jaren Jackson Jr. That must have felt nice against his old fan base that booed him once upon a time even though he was traded (without requesting it) and have now lost just about all of core they chose to build without him.
- On a missed call in the first quarter that the Spurs kinda deserved with their listless play but still hurt, Dante Cunningham got stripped on offense, and Jevon Carter kicked the ball down the court before Bradley gathered it and made a transition three for his 16th points of the first quarter (tying his season high by itself). The reason the refs missed it? The official who would have been right there to call it had his back to the play, looking at the Grizzlies’ bench as they argued a split second earlier that Mills had stepped out of the bounds. Having your bench distract the refs could be a new strategy, kinda like “fumbling the ball” unforced to gain a step on your opponent without actually traveling. (Seriously, NBA, you really need to reconsider that dumb rule.)
- In a flip of the script from the rest of the RRT, after a bad first quarter the Spurs woke up in the second with a 17-2 run for their first lead of the night after being down by as much as 13. After the Spurs got up by 6, Memphis ultimately regained the lead with a 7-0 run before halftime, but the Spurs still outscored the Grizzlies 37-25 in the quarter.
- Once again, it’s not an NBA game if Davis Bertans doesn’t get smacked in the head or neck region. This time, it was a forearm to the throat and jaw area from Jackson that drew his third foul of the night in the second quarter.
- Memphis always had an answer every time the Spurs built the lead up to double figures. The entire second half was a game of runs, but after scoring 37 points in both the second and third quarters and hitting 13 of their first 16 threes, the Spurs offense went cold in the fourth with only 14 points and missing all five three-point attempts, but the defense did just enough stave off the Grizzlies for the win (which included some assistance from Jackson, who missed a free throw he had to make, then made a free throw he had to miss and tip in to tie things with one second left).
- These are not your brother’s Grizzlies, and despite missing Mike Conley, Dillon Brooks and Kyle Anderson, they were carefree and loose on offense. Bradley looks rejuvenated and added some much needed shooting to the former Grit-’n-Grind Grizzlies, and they’re not afraid to let it fly from three. This had to be the fastest paced Spurs-Grizzlies game we’ve seen in the last decade.
- Memphis may not miss Marc Gasol as much as some think, especially with him now past his prime. I believe they are right to start building around Jackson, who is very athletic, plays hard on both ends, and has a shooting range that extends out to the arc, while Valanciunas is a bully down low who defends the paint well and can make things happen on offense.
For the Grizzlies fans’ perspective, visit Grizzly Bear Blues.
The Spurs will be back after the All-Star break on Friday, February 22, continuing the Rodeo Road Trip in Toronto . Tip-off will be at 6:00 PM CT on ESPN.