Spurs: 3 Key takeaways from road loss to Memphis Grizzlies
By Ethan Farina
The San Antonio Spurs road loss to the Memphis Grizzlies was a continuation of their back and forth series with Memphis this year.
The San Antonio Spurs have been playing some of their best basketball over the past month but last night was not their best performance. They’ve had a back and forth series with the Memphis Grizzlies this year and last night was a continuation of that trend.
The final score doesn’t tell the full story for this one. Memphis came away with a 134-121 victory but it was a close contest for much of the game. The Spurs were able to keep it close but a +11 point differential for Memphis in the fourth quarter helped the Grizzlies put it away.
Sometimes you run into a team on a hot night and there’s only so much that can be done. That was the case last night as the Grizzlies hit 52 percent of their field goals and 42 percent from downtown. On top of that, they had a +12 advantage in rebounds as well as a +10 advantage in assists. Credit to the Grizzlies, this was one of their best performances of the season.
Even though the end result wasn’t what the Spurs wanted there are still a few positive things that we can take away from last night’s loss to the Grizzlies. Here are three key takeaways from the Spurs’ most recent road loss.
Next: Aldridge continues to impress from deep
LaMarcus Aldridge’s three-point renaissance
One of the biggest reasons, if not the biggest, for the San Antonio Spurs’ recent improvement over the past month, has been the willingness of LaMarcus Aldridge to expand his game out past the three-point line. He’s fully embraced the long ball over the past few weeks and it’s done wonders for the San Antonio Spurs offense.
Since December Aldridge has made 29 of his 57 three-point attempts and has regularly been one of the Spurs’ most consistent options from deep. Seeing him leading the Spurs in three-point attempts would have been unfathomable a month ago but it’s almost the norm now. He went five for nine from deep last night, the latest in a stretch of impressive long-range performances.
With this triple, @aldridge_12 has a new career-high for three's in a season with 38! #GoSpursGo pic.twitter.com/Lzp8ON4Hem
— San Antonio Spurs (@spurs) January 11, 2020
He’s already matched his career-high in triples in a season and its only January. He’s blowing away the expectations that we had for him just a month ago and has helped revolutionalize the Spurs offense. If he keeps playing like this he could very wall work himself into the All-Star conversation.
Aldridge’s spacing ability helps the team as a whole but no one has benefited from it more than the Spurs other All-Star contender.
Next: DeMar DeRozan played like an All-Star
DeMar DeRozan continues to be scorching hot
None has benefitted more from LaMarcus’s newfound love of the long ball than DeMar DeRozan. Throughout his career, he has been most efficient when attacking the basket and the Spurs newfound spacing has opened up wider lanes than ever for DeRozan to go right at the rim.
He tied his season-high with 36 points last night on a variety of looks close to the basket. He has his limitations as an offensive player to be sure but he’s always been an acrobatic and skilled finisher. His full package of finishing moves was on full display last night.
DeRozan was 11 for 18 from the field last night and has hit on 51 percent of his field goals since the start of December. His highly efficient game, combined with his importance to the success of the Spurs, has him playing his way into an All-Star spot that didn’t seem possible just weeks ago.
The only thing standing in the way of DeRozan making his fifth All-Star game is a plethora of other talented Western Conference guards. Luka Doncic, Donovan Mitchell, James Harden, and Damian Lillard should all be considered locks for the All-Star game at this point. Unless injury derails one of them they’ll all be on one of the teams.
This leaves DeRozan to compete with the likes of Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook, Devin Booker, and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander for one of the final spots. All great players to be sure, but if DeMar can maintain his highly efficient production he will make a strong case for his inclusion in the All-Star game.
Next: The Spurs are out of playoff contention
The San Antonio Spurs are on the outside looking in
Last night’s loss brought the Spurs to 14.5 games behind the place in the west, tied with the Memphis Grizzlies, but by virtue of their victory last night the Grizz have the edge in head to head. This means that the San Antonio Spurs are once again outside the playoff picture.
Being outside of playoff contention has been a rarely frequented place for the Spurs over the past two decades but it’s where they’ve been for most of the season so this isn’t a new feeling. There’s still a lot of regular-season games left and plenty of time for the Silver and Black to achieve that record-breaking 23rd consecutive playoff appearance.
This team has looked vastly improved lately and there’s a lot to love about how they’ve been playing. They’ve had one of the most efficient offenses in the league and there’s reason to believe that they’re only going to get better from here.
Aldridge is hitting from deep, DeRozan attacking the rim at an All-Star level, Dejounte Murray has found is shot, and Lonnie Walker is taking on a larger role. This is a scrappy, hard-fighting team that has proved that they can go toe to toe with some of the best teams in the league.
This loss to the Grizzlies wasn’t the result that we were hoping for but it doesn’t take away from how well the guys have been playing as of late. There’s a lot of season left and the Spurs are turning the corner at the perfect time.