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San Antonio vs Memphis, Final Score: Spurs can’t stop rested Grizzlies 129-112

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The surprisingly sharp Grizzlies carved the Spurs defensive rotations to pieces with Ja Morant’s crisp passes and offensive prowess.

NBA: Memphis Grizzlies at San Antonio Spurs Daniel Dunn-USA TODAY Sports

You would think that the Grizzlies would have been the less prepared team. With 12 days since their last game, conventional wisdom would indicate that the Spurs, fresh off a pair of wins against elite teams from each conference, would be the sharper team. But Taylor Jenkins used the time off wisely, and he had his team honed to a fine edge as they took advantage of the Spurs’ defensive weaknesses and used the buoyant skills of their all league point guard, Ja Morant, to score 100 in the first three quarters, and they won easily 129-112. Derrick White looked fine in his return to action, but the loss was an overall team effort as the Silver and Black couldn’t stop anything the Grizzlies threw at them.

Observations

  • The Grizzlies were expected to be rusty, but instead were really sharp to start the game, and were able to run whatever they wanted on offense, hitting 8 of their first 10 shots.
  • Ja Morant has an amazing combination of pure speed and precise body control. He can dismantle a good defense, and the Spurs defense is a work on progress, so he got anything he wanted early in the game.
  • LaMarcus Aldridge seemed to be finding his offensive rhythm with a 10 point first quarter, but he faded late, and his defensive liabilities really hurt the team.
  • The Spurs give up too many easy shots after made baskets if the other team pushes the ball. Dillon Brooks is never going to see a more wide open shot than what he gets running the floor after a Spurs score.
  • Keldon Johnson is a tough kid. One play after being kicked in the stomach and writhing on the court in pain, he ripped the ball away from Dillon Brooks and took it to the other end of the court and drew a foul.
  • I know this is kind of a crazy comp, but bear with me. Keldon is a guy who plays a lot bigger than his height. Like Charles Barkley. I mean, his personality is completely different, but he plays with the same fire and intensity. [Editor’s Note: It’s not crazy at all. I’ve been thinking this for a couple weeks now. -J.R. Wilco]
  • Trey Lyles actually got onto the court in the third quarter, with Rudy Gay and Jakob Poeltl. Why not, nothing else was working for the Spurs, and that lineup did help a little to cut into the lead.
  • Desmond Bane is pretty good. The overall talent level of the Grizzlies is pretty good, their bench outplayed the Spurs bench for most of the game. Georgiu Dieng was punishing SA’s bigs in the paint, and also hit shots from outside.

Game Flow

LaMarcus Aldridge has won the opening tip the last couple of games, and tonight, the Grizzlies deflected it out of bounds, so I guess that counts. Neither team played much defense to start the game, and Pop called a quick timeout after the Grizzlies had scored on their first three possessions and led 8-5. The Grizzlies were hot, but the Spurs found the range and tied the game at 20 with DeMar DeRozan and LMA taking clutch threes. But the Grizzlies’ hot shooting continued and they led 35-27 after one quarter.

The Spurs turned up the defense to start the second quarter, and forced Memphis turnovers to start the quarter on a 9-3 run to cut the Grizzly lead to a pair. But the Grizzlies were determined and used their grit and grind to lead by 11 with just over a minute left. With 4 seconds left, Lonnie Walker IV ran to the top of the key and hit a buzzer beater, and the Grizzlies led 64-56 at the half.

The third quarter started on a physical note, as both teams started to get after each other. The Spurs made a little progress starting to cut into the lead, but Ja Morant’s unstoppable ability to create shots even when he was covered kept the good guys at bay, and before you knew it, the Spurs were down by double digits again, stretching their lead to 18 halfway through the quarter. The Spurs improved their offensive performance, but without stopping the Memphis juggernaut, they could only cut into the lead, and the Grizzlies led 100-90 after 3 quarters.

The Spurs kept pace for the first half of the third quarter, but turned up the defense and used a deep triple from Derrick White to cut the lead to 5 with five minutes left. The Spurs would need to get some stops to get the lead back, and they couldn’t, as they surrendered two quick wide-open shots to Dillon Brooks as he sunk them and swelled their lead back to double digits. Pop signaled that he was done as he put in Drew Eubanks for the final minutes as Memphis cruised to a 17 point win.

Music Break

Have you ever wondered what happens inside a Target store when it’s closed? It’s probably not this . . .


What’s Next . . .

For the Grizzlies fans’ perspective, visit Grizzly Bear Blues.

The Spurs are scheduled to play the Tennessee Bears again on Monday, at 7:30 in the AT&T Center, followed by yet another home game on Wednesday against the Timberwolves. If they play all of their upcoming scheduled games, they will have played 7 home games in a row.