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San Antonio vs Memphis, Final Score: Spurs backslide into mediocrity against the Grizzlies, 121-134

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A monster game from DeMar DeRozan wasn’t enough to overcome Ja Morant and the hungry Grizzlies

NBA: San Antonio Spurs at Memphis Grizzlies Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

The Spurs lost the crispness of execution and consistency that buoyed them to consecutive wins against the Bucks and the Celtics in the last week, and ended up losing to a hungry Grizzlies team, led by super rookie Ja Morant, who led the team with 14 assists and a million watts of energy. DeMar DeRozan had his best game of the season, and tried to carry the Silver and Black to a win on his back, but he didn’t get enough help from the rest of the team as defensive lapses and turnovers let the Grizzlies take over the game late.

Observations

  • I wasn’t that impressed by Trey Lyles at the start of the season, but he’s turning into a really solid contributor. If he keeps improving, I could see him becoming a long term Spur. I like the rotation of him and Jakob Poeltl, and the Spurs even played with both Jacob and Trey together for part of the second quarter. That’s an offensively challenged frontcourt, but it worked OK against the gigantic Grizzly front line.
  • Sean Elliott let on during the broadcast that his favorite cartoon is Rick and Morty. I knew we had a lot in common.
  • The Spurs lacked the crispness of execution that they had in their last two games against the Celtics and Bucks, and it led to turnovers and fast break points for the Grizzlies. I realize that not every night can be a masterpiece, but it was still a little disappointing to see the inconsistency of the early season return in such an important game.
  • The court design in Memphis is pretty, but it’s really hard to see the out-of-bounds lines, which makes it hard for the players and refs.
  • Jonas Valanciunas was easily getting his shot off over LaMarcus Aldridge. Not many players are long enough to pull that off.
  • During the third period, a serious thunderstorm hit the Austin area, and I was a bit distracted by the hail hitting the roof. I may have missed part of what happened then.
  • The Spurs gave up 37 points to the Grizzlies in the third quarter, but scored 41. I don’t recognize this team.
  • Lonnie Walker IV didn’t have a great game tonight. He still hasn’t figured out how to get the ball past elite rim protectors in the NBA, and it’s a good learning experience for him that he needs to be a little trickier with the ball when driving to the hoop at this level.
  • Memphis really goes after offensive rebounds, and their second (and third) shots were killing the good guys all game long. A few more defensive rebounds would have made this a much closer game.

Game Flow

The Grizzlies started with an offensive rebound on their first possession which led to a Jonas Valanciunas and-one in the paint. The Grizzlies went to work with three point shots, but the Spurs mid-range game led by DeMar DeRozan kept the score close. The Grizzlies took a ton of three point shots, but they also got enough rebounds when they missed them to surge ahead by 9 late in the quarter behind Brandon Clarke’s inside play. It could have been worse, but Jakob Poeltl’s jam lifted the Spurs and the Grizzlies led 37-32 after one quarter.

Former Spur Kyle Anderson scored the first points of the second quarter, but both teams had a hard time scoring as the period began, but the Grizzlies took the rock to the basket, scoring inside and swelling their lead to 15 with offensive putbacks and foul shots. With the regular offense stalled, DeMar DeRozan went to work one-on-one against the Memphis bigs, and led the Spurs to a 13-5 run at the end of the quarter, with the Spurs trailing 63-57 at halftime.

Bryn Forbes hit a triple to cut the lead to three as the third quarter began, but missed his second shot, and poor defense gave the Grizzlies a wide-open three and a open drive to the basket for Morant as they extended the lead to 8. The Grizzlies started to hit their shots and once again led by double digits. DeMar once again took over the game and took the ball to the paint, drawing fouls when he wasn’t making assists or making layups. The Spurs had cut the deficit to a couple of baskets 2/3rds of the way through the quarter, but a furious finish by the Grizzlies had them back up by double digits, before the Spurs struck back with a 7-0 run, and the Grizzlies led 100-98 with 12 minutes to play.

Valanciunas started the scoring in the final quarter, and their hustle got them an extra possession as they got to the loose ball first and rushed out to a 106-98 lead, leading to a quick Popovich timeout. The Spurs went back to a DeRozan-centric offense, and fought their way back. The offense was working, but Memphis was distributing the ball and hitting their shots, and they maintained the lead. A circus shot from Dillon Brooks gave Memphis a 12 point lead with 4 minutes left. Bryn Forbes hit a triple and got fouled by Brooks to make it a little more interesting, but the inability of the Spurs to get stops kept them from closing the lead as both teams emptied their benches as Memphis won 134-121.

Music Break

Lonnie Walker’s game is very sweet and it made me think of this.


For the Memphis Fan’s perspective, visit Grizzly Bear Blues. After tonight’s game, the Spurs head to Toronto for a 5:00 PM CT game on Sunday. Despite losing their best player to free agency before the start of the year, the Raptors are having a very solid year, currently 4th in the east, and will provide another stern test for the Silver and Black.