With how hot — and just flat out good — the Memphis Grizzlies have been this season, the Spurs last game of the 2021 calendar year never felt like a win on the schedule, and that was compounded by missing Dejounte Murray — their best bet to slow down Ja Morant — to Health and Safety Protocols. For at least the first half and some change, it looked like the Spurs might have another road upset against a superior opponent up their sleeves, even overcoming the loss of Derrick White for much of the second quarter to stay within two points of Memphis at the half.
After the Grizzlies got out to an early 9-0 lead, the Spurs responded with a 13-2 run, beginning with a White three from the wing and assist to Jakob Poeltl in the kinda two-on-one.
White was on his way to a big game for the Spurs —
Slight work for Derrick on the inside pic.twitter.com/13o2b1uipr— San Antonio Spurs (@spurs) January 1, 2022
— until he took an elbow to the left eye ridge and had to leave for most of the second quarter to stop the bleeding. Fortunately, Bryn Forbes and Tre Jones filled in admirably, combining for 20 points in the first half to help make up for both of their starting guards’ absences. Forbes even put on his best Murray impression with this behind the back dribble and pullup from the midrange over his old teammate, Kyle Anderson.
Jones had 11 of his season-high 13 points in the first half to help keep things close, much of the time going head-to-head against his older brother Tyus.
Unfortunately, after a brief flurry to start the second half got the Spurs out to five-point lead, their offensive momentum completely halted for the remainder of the game, and the Grizzlies gradually pulled away until Gregg Popovich pulled the plug and emptied the bench in the fourth quarter.
The Spurs aren’t wasting any time getting back into action, kicking off 2022 in Detroit tonight at 6 PM. Unfortunately they’ve added Lonnie Walker and Doub McDermott to the list of players in Health and Safety Protocols, but for silver lining seekers, that likely means a good dose of Josh Primo, so shake off that New Year's hangover and tune in!