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San Antonio vs. Memphis, Final Score: Spurs can’t match Grizzlies execution and energy, lose 133-102

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Memphis’ swingmen outshine their counterparts to blow out San Antonio for the second straight game.

Memphis Grizzlies v San Antonio Spurs
Keldon Johnson battled valiantly in the loss against a confident Memphis squad
Photos by Logan Riely/NBAE via Getty Images

Behind excellent halfcourt offense and heightened hustle, Memphis claimed the season series 2-1 with its seventh straight victory. San Antonio struggled again with containing the Grizzlies’ numerous runs and their cold shooting doomed them in the blowout loss. Impressive efforts by Brandon Clark (18 points and 6 rebounds), Kyle Anderson (17 points and 9 rebounds), and Ja Morant (13 points and 8 assists) spearheaded nine Grizzlies in double-figures in their balanced and dominant showing. The Spurs were paced by Keldon Johnson (25 points and 11 rebounds) and DeMar DeRozan (14 points, 6 assists, and 5 rebounds).

Observations

  • Lonnie Walker IV missed several makeable shots at the rim in the first half. Those will (hopefully) fall for him more consistently as the season wears on.
  • This is Patty Millsbest 3-point shooting accuracy (41.2%) since the 2016-2017 season (41.4%) and just shy of his all-time effort (42.5%) during the 2014 championship drive.
  • Keldon’s Kitchen: Keldon looks increasingly comfortable at different spots around the arc. He’s also making noticeable strides with changing directions on his drives.
  • Sequence of the Game: Jaokb Poeltl eviscerated a Morant dunk attempt to start the second quarter, converted a nifty layup in traffic, and followed it up with another layup through Morant’s contact.
  • It always seems like Gorgui Dieng, going back to his days as a Timberwolf, plays well against the Spurs.
  • This version of Kyle Anderson would have fit in just fine surrounded by the Spurs’ current cadre of wingmen.
  • Though the Aldridge close-outs on perimeter shooters are becoming borderline comical, it’s worth wondering whether it’s worthwhile for him to run directly towards the shooter’s chest or stay close to the rim for rebounding opportunities. You may recall during the 2014 finals in game 4 - Danny Green flew by Ray Allen on a made three, and Pop lit into him during the ensuing timeout - ordering him to run towards Allen’s chest instead of contesting the jumper. If Aldridge were to try to close out directly on the shooter (and presumably have difficulty recovering), it may shred the help defense around him too easily.
  • Aldridge, asserting himself from the tip, made several deflections on defense and nailed his first three shots - including a ‘guide-it-in’ three to push San Antonio out to 10-3. Memphis’s opening nine points came via a Morant three and two conventional and-1’s. DeAnthony Melton continued his torrid shooting against the Spurs with six points. Back-to-back conversions by Tyus Jones helped the Grizzlies escape a very entertaining stanza up 33-31, aided by a 20-6 bench scoring advantage.
  • Poeltl’s muscle and Patty Mills fiery touch from distance helped San Antonio move into the lead briefly to start the second period. The Spurs’ offensive execution went awry through the rest of the half, resulting in their least competitive quarter of the season thus far. It seemed only that Aldridge and DeMar DeRozan dented the scoresheet for San Antonio. Dillon Brooks’ and Anderson’s scoring combined with Jones’ playmaking helped the Grizzlies go up by 69-53 at the half on 58% shooting.
  • The Spurs came out of the break tentatively and Clarke made them pay with seven points. Dejounte Murray started what looked like the makings of a comeback with a pair of smooth threes, but Brooks and Morant peppered the Spurs from all over to extend the lead to 23. A sign of how the evening went: Clarke overthrew Morant on a transition lob - and Morant came down with it and deftly spun a layup through two Spurs defenders. Johnson single-handedly kept San Antonio within shouting distance with frequent forays to the basket. A Derrick White three and Johnson free throws shaved the deficit to 10. The Grizzlies left the third up 96-83.
  • Johnson nearly matched his career high in the final period. Morant and Jones continued to find open shooters and the Grizzlies kept San Antonio at bay - leaving the building with the best road record in the league (6-1).

For the Grizzlies fan’s perspective, visit Grizzly Bear Blues.

San Antonio wraps up its homestand with Karl-Anthony Towns and the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday night at 7:30 PM CDT.