The San Antonio Spurs thrived in a decisive, blowout win against the injury-plagued Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday night.
After the satisfying victory of the Cleveland Cavaliers on Tuesday night, the Spurs faced a far less challenging opponent in the Grizzlies, the 12th seed in the Western Conference. After tonight’s victory, the Spurs have surpassed the Minnesota Timberwolves for the third seed in the Western Conference.
In this contest, both teams had to work with injury-filled rosters. Manu Ginobili, Kawhi Leonard, LaMarcus Aldridge, and Rudy Gay were unable to play for the Spurs. Jarell Martin, Tyreke Evans, Chandler Parsons, Mike Conley, James Ennis III, and JaMychal Green sat out for the Grizzlies.
San Antonio jumped out to an early lead in the first few minutes. This was thanks to poor shooting by the Grizzlies and second-chance opportunities created by Pau Gasol‘s rebounding. As the first quarter drew to a close, the Grizzlies narrowed the Spurs lead to one point. However, this would be as close as Memphis would come for the rest of the game. By the time the second quarter ended, San Antonio lead by 11. Halfway through the fourth quarter, they pulled away from the short-handed Grizzlies to lead by 20 points.
In the absence of All-Star LaMarcus Aldridge (rest), Pau Gasol stepped up and played with the energy of a younger version of himself. He was just one assist shy of a triple-double against his former team, with 14 points, 15 rebounds, and nine assists. In addition, he played solid defense on his brother, Marc Gasol. This prevented him, as the Grizzlies’ star player, from sparking any kind of comeback.
Although Davis Bertans played a mostly good game, with 11 points, four rebounds, three assists, a steal, and a block, he shot an uncharacteristic 16.7 percent from three-point range. However, the rest of the Spurs made up for his struggles by shooting a combined 50 percent on three-point shots. Their defense, combined with abysmal shooting from the Grizzlies meant that Memphis shot just 11 percent on threes.
… Davis' second dunk was so good, we had to have two Plays of the Game tonight. pic.twitter.com/KUtgGQkRPY
— San Antonio Spurs (@spurs) January 25, 2018
The Spurs are always known for playing great team basketball, but in this win they provided a wonderful example of what team-first play should look like. All eight players, except Kyle Anderson, who played for more than two minutes scored in double figures. In addition, no one Spur had more than 16 points. Their ball movement was fantastic, and they had ten more assists than the Grizzlies in the game.
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The shift of Dejounte Murray to the starting lineup continues to prove effective. The young guard had 11 points, four rebounds, and seven assists. He was also a team-high plus 25 for the contest. There were still plays in which his youth is evidenced through poor shot selection or uncoordinated defense, but overall he seems to be adjusting to his new role nicely.
The move seems to suit Tony Parker well, too. Tonight, he had multiple “vintage Tony Parker” plays in which he drove to the hoop and either stopped on a dime for a floater, or finished at the rim. These types of explosive drives have become sparse in recent times, but it seems in his reduced role he is able to better utilize his energy. Though he has averaged just 8.6 points this season, since he has moved to the bench he has been able to score 12.6 points per game.
The only mild concern stemming from this game was Memphis’ ability to exploit the Spurs in transition. Anytime the Spurs could force slow, half court basketball, the Grizzlies had no response. The only time the young, athletic Grizzlies were able to put up any semblance of a comeback was when they would get out and run, discombobulating San Antonio’s defense. While this obviously isn’t a pressing worry considering the result of the game, it is something to keep in the back of one’s mind come playoff time when teams will have seven games to prod at the Spurs’ weaknesses.
Teamwork for the win ?
Patty – 15p, 2sPau – 14p, 15r, 9aBryn – 14p, 2sDanny – 14p, 8r, 3aTony – 12p, 4aDejounte – 11p, 4r, 7aDavis – 10p, 4rJoffrey – 10p, 8r https://t.co/oILMzGAhkc
— San Antonio Spurs (@spurs) January 25, 2018
The Spurs will look to continue the success of the past two games on Friday at 7:30 p.m. CST, when they will play the Philadelphia 76ers in the first of a five-game homestand.