San Antonio (5-7), in its first overtime game of the young season, succumbed to a five-for-five start by Memphis (8-4) in the extra frame despite nearly converting a miraculous comeback. The Spurs repelled an early 14-point deficit, and nipped at the Grizzlies’ heels throughout the bulk of the final four quarters.
An entertaining back-and-forth first half gave way to a more animated and competitive contest in the second half, which saw the Grizzlies use a 12-0 run to claim a lead they held for much of the third period. A late surge led by Josh Richardson put the hosts in the lead and the teams again went back-and-forth in the final frame with playoff-level execution on both sides resulting in a 112-112 tie ending regulation.
Devin Vassell (22 points and assists), Jaoke Poeltl (22 points and 9 rebounds), and Tre Jones (career-high 10 assists), were helped by an uplifting first-half stint by Charles Bassey (10 points and 6 rebounds) in Zach Collins’ absence. Keldon Johnson fought off an off-shooting night to still have 16 points, 8 rebounds and 4 assists. Ja Morant (32 points, 5 assists, and 5 rebounds) and Desmond Bane (32 points, 6 assists, and 6 rebounds) provided the crunch-time production in the impressive road victory.
- Episode 1 of the Spurs’ Docuseries (“The Ring of the Rowel”) debuted on YouTube earlier today with quite a few positive comments already. Can’t wait to see it!
- It’s settled... don’t like the mustard yellow on the court pushing up against the black paint.
- For a great listen, click on over to an early-season examination of the Spurs.
- Who would take Devin Vassell over Anthony Edwards (1), James Wiseman (2), Isaac Okoro (5), Onyeka Okongwu (6), Killian Hayes (7), Obi Toppin (8), Deni Avdija (9), and Jalen Smith (10) in a re-draft from 2020? (both hands and legs raised high)
- At some point, Steven Adams needs to join the other Australian luminaries (Gaze, Mills, Baynes, Landale) to grace the San Antonio roster, right? (No, not Simmons).
- Morant’s shooting stroke looks noticeably more confident and smooth compared to his conference semifinals against the Warriors last year. He also seems to have already graduated to using various speeds at his disposal to get anywhere and anything he likes - like prime Tony Parker.
- Tre Jones + Tyus Jones would make for a very high-level rotation player.
- Jeremy’s Journey: His corner three to start the Spurs’ scoring looked straight out of the Bruce Bowen / Steve Smith mode. He impressively followed that with a whirly drive and lefty layup in traffic.
- Devin’s Deeds: Both announcers recalled Vassell’s rookie season that “nobody’s gonna block that guy’s shot” after he swished a pretty 18-footer.
- Sequence of the Game #1: Sochan stripped a lollygagging Dillon Brooks, slid it to Poeltl, who immediately pushed it ahead to Jones for a breathtaking alley-oop to Vassell.
- Sequence of the Game #2: Partway through the second period, a Bassey block at one end turned into a coast-to-coast knifing lay-up for Vassell.
- Bassey Beastmode: Charles, benefitting from early playing time, converted a reverse from Johnson and flagged down an errant miss to find a diving Doug McDermott for a score. Sean Elliott exclaimed “Bassey can play!” after he did a pretty up-and-under to score again. Bassey had several others notable plays, but he nonchalantly flipped a skyhook over the 7’2” Adams. He looks way more polished of a scorer than Devontae Cacok from last year.
- Parker, who was feted during an early break in the action, seems destined to be part of the “looks exactly the same from age 18-68” club.
- The teams lit up the scoreboard with 35 combined points in the opening six minutes, though Memphis had 21 of them. Morant netted two threes, while Santi Aldama and Adams extended too many possessions with rebounds or tipbacks. San Antonio was spared several more baskets due to Adams picking up two offensive fouls. Despite the white-hot shooting of the Grizzlies, San Antonio surprisingly stayed within six after one with their bench saving their backsides.
- A Vassell three and Bassey dunk chopped the deficit to one to start the second. A pair of straightaway threes quickly pushed Memphis back up seven. A McDermott three briefly gave San Antonio its first lead. The teams eclipsed 100-points total halfway through the quarter. Adams brought back nightmares from the 2016 OKC conference semis by battling the Spurs’ frontline for every single carom. A Vassell pull-up and Romeo Langford tip-dunk tied things at 57. Back-to-back clumsy turnovers by Vassell and Jones did cost the Spurs a shot at the lead. The Grizzlies went to the break up seven aided by its 26-14 rebounding advantage.
- Memphis punished the tentative Spurs with five quick points to start the third. San Antonio mounted its own 8-0 run with patient ball movement. Adams’ girthful impact: A missed Bane three from the left wing, was retrieved by Adams on the right baseline, who executed a dribble handoff... to Bane who hit a deflating three. A pair of Josh Richardson threes sandwiched around Poeltl’s euro-step to fool Adams on a lumbering layup, nudged San Antonio ahead again. Vassell’s wing three put his team up five. A buzzer-beating tip by Richardson made it 94-89 Spurs heading into the fourth.
- The final frame started with designated scorer Bane neting an and-1. Brandon Clarke’s free throws tied the game at 96. Bane put Memphis back in the lead with bucket after bucket. A Bassey strip of Bane on the perimeter led to two freebies for Jones. Jones then took a baseline feed from Poeltl to swish a three and bring the Spurs within two. A loose ball foul on Sochan found him suplexing the burly Adams. A rainbow three by Johnson edged his team to within one. Johnson found Sochan behind a slew of arms for a reverse dunk, which was promptly answered by a Bane layup. A fierce Johnson floater put the Spurs up one, but was answered by a Bane floater off yet another Adams offensive rebound.
- Johnson’s free throw tied things at 112 with 85 seconds remaining. A Vassell miss went off of Brooks’ fingers, but a Jones jumper went in-and-out. A Brooks airball ceded possession back to the Spurs with 6.6 seconds. An excellent after timeout play gifted Johnson a floater that softly fell off the rim to send the game to overtime.
- In overtime and after a Spurs miss, Morant found Jon Konchar for a transition layup. Brooks then nailed a three to put Memphis up five. Bane answered a Poeltl pop-a-shot with his own lethal jumper. Sochan was called for a questionable offensive foul on Morant, who then converted a pair of floaters to put his team up nine.
- In the midst of an 8-0 run by the Spurs, the game clock mysteriously stopped for an entire possession allowing Sochan to nab two baskets and a steal in the confusion to again bring San Antonio to within one. The officials corrected the clock to 9.3 seconds, and it took 4.3 seconds for Morant to be fouled in the backcourt. Morant clanked the front end of his free throws giving the Spurs one last opportunity - Vassell’s game-winning attempt from the left wing fell just short!
For the Grizzlies fan’s perspective, please visit Grizzly Bear Blues.
San Antonio takes on the Eastern Conference-leading Milwaukee Bucks and Giannis Antetokounmpo on Friday night at 7:00 PM CDT.