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San Antonio vs. Memphis, Final Score: Spurs best shot can’t take down Grizzlies, 113-121

Brothers Tre and Tyus Jones treated the viewing audience to a pair of great performances as Memphis wins.

NBA: San Antonio Spurs at Memphis Grizzlies
The Battle of the Jones Brothers again went to Memphis’ Tyus for the seventh time in a row
Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports

Despite a high level of sustained competitiveness throughout the game in the absence of its top scorers, the San Antonio Spurs lost the opening game of its two-part series visiting the Memphis Grizzlies and hit the midway point of its season at 14-27. The Grizzlies used a strong opening quarter - being opportunistic in transition and dominating the paint on both ends - to grab an early lead. The teams engaged in an extended back-and-forth game of ‘anything you can do, I can do better’ of excellent shotmaking in the second quarter with Memphis claiming it 37-36.

After getting hot from distance, the Spurs made several runs in the second half, and briefly held the lead early in the fourth quarter. Memphis gutted out the win with better shooting down the stretch from its proven veterans and making just enough stops at the other end with San Antonio lacking a reliable option.

The Western Conference-leading Grizzlies (27-13) earned their seventh straight win. Absent their superstar Ja Morant (shin), Memphis received double-figure scoring from all five starters, with Tyus Jones (24 points, 6 assists, and 3 steals) and Jaren Jackson, Jr. (16 points, 6 rebounds, and 5 blocks) making the biggest difference.

San Antonio, definitively missing their stars Keldon Johnson and Devin Vassell, received its usual balanced distribution of scoring from several sources. Tre Jones led the way with 16 points and 7 assists, while Josh Richardson (16 points, 5 rebounds, and 5 assists) starred off the bench. Jakob Poeltl returned to action and supplied 13 points, 7 rebounds, and 2 steals.


  • Tyus Jones had a 6-0 record against younger brother Tre coming into the game.
  • Matt Bonner referenced Desmond Bane as a ‘jacked’ shooting guard and noting that prior ‘jacked’ players tended to not be as pure of shooters. From the Spurs’ history, I think Mario Elie, Jaren Jackson, Sr. and Gary Neal might disagree (well, if you combined ‘jacked’ and ‘thicc’)
  • A good player comparison for Jones (Tre) might be Brevin Knight who had an understated, yet impactful career.
  • As annoying as he is, Dillon Brooks may be a good player comp for a young shooter like Malaki Branham.
  • For the college football fans, former TCU players who spent time in the NBA - former Spur Kurt Thomas, Scott Brooks, and former Spur Goo Kennedy. Former Georgia alumni who played in the league - Dominique Wilkins, former Spur Willie Anderson, and his brother Shandon Anderson,
  • Jeremy’s Journey: The catch-and-shoot motion on his jumper, while noticeably wonky, still allows Sochan to get it off in just enough time. That pull-up jumper or floater in the paint is there for him as he continues to improve his offense.
  • Sequence of the Game #1: After a Memphis miss early in the second, Stanley Johnson deftly found a cutting Doug McDermott on the baseline for a nifty layup.
  • Sequence of the Game #2: Early in the fourth quarter, Josh Richardson saved a near-certain fast-break score from the Grizzlies with a steal and found Romeo Langford for a spot-up two - netting San Antonio a four-point swing.
  • Out of the gate, both teams had a hard time finding a shooting touch. Jackson, Jr. swatted away two early Spurs attempts and his corner three gave Memphis an early lead. Romeo Langford netted a pair of early close buckets. A Tyus Jones three extended the Grizzlies out up eight, but Branham steadied San Antonio with two jumpers to keep them in shouting distance. Memphis’ bench scored at will late in the frame and the hosts left it up 35-25.
  • Baskets by Tre Jones and Zach Collins cut into the deficit at the start of the second. A pull-up three in transition by Bane put the Grizzlies up 13. Jackson, Jr. showed off his springy defense by picking up his 3rd and 4th blocks. Like a Big 12 football game, neither team seemed to be able to stop the other. The Jones brothers took turns one-upping each other with awesome plays. Richardson went on his own mini-run after the audio cut out with minutes to play, but the Spurs went into the break down by 11.
  • Matt Bonner joined the Memphis broadcast with the audio difficulties staying well into the second half. Jackson, Jr. picked up his fifth block, while the teams again exchanged buckets. Keita Bates-Diop’s second corner three of the period pulled San Antonio within six. Branham’s third three ended a 6-0 run from the Grizzlies, while a Stanley Johnson corner three shaved the deficit to three. Memphis left the stanza up five.
  • San Antonio used an 11-0 run punctuated by a transition layup and tip-follow from Richardson sandwiched around free throws from Sochan to go up 103-98. Jackson, Jr. ended the run with free throws, and Brooks and Jones helped Memphis re-take the lead. The Grizzlies drew the Spurs into the bonus with more than half the period remaining. A Jones (Tre) floater briefly tied it for the last time at 109.
  • A bucket by Jones (Tyus) and a Bane three in transition pushed Memphis out up seven. Branham did convert a difficult reverse over Steven Adams, but a straightaway from Jackson, Jr. provided the clinching points.

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

The two teams return to the FedEx Forum Wednesday night to battle again at 7:00 PM CDT.