Game 1: Memphis Grizzlies 101, San Antonio Spurs 98

by

AT&T CENTER–San Antonio won many of the little battles but ultimately lost the war in the Spurs 101-98 Game 1 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies–their sixth straight series opener loss.

Behind Tim Duncan’s 13 rebounds, the Spurs outrebounded the Grizzlies 40-38, holding Memphis to just five offensive rebounds and outscoring them 15-5 on both second chance and fast break points.

“It should (have been enough), but it wasn’t,” Tim Duncan said. “We just didn’t do enough down the stretch and that was the game right there. We stuck to our game plan, did a good job of keeping them off the offensive glass, but they made more plays down the stretch.”

The guy normally responsible for making those plays of course was in street clothes today, but Manu Ginobili’s absence does not take away from what was a very solid game plan from the Memphis Grizzlies. If you can’t catch them, beat them. The Grizzlies set the tone early, dragging the San Antonio Spurs into the ugly game that was once the Spurs’ calling card.

[pullquote]Several of these Spurs have danced this dance before, and for a moment it was shades of Jerry Sloan and the Utah Jazz again, playing the notes through the tweets of the referees’ whistles. Legs, arms, knees and elbows at every twist and turn.[/pullquote]

For the game, the Spurs shot 47 free throws, and they’ll take every single one of them every night, but the very act of fouling slowed the Spurs offense to a grind, removing the layups, 3-pointers, and ball movement that carried them to the top seed in the West.

Memphis, not known for their outside competency, managed to match the Spurs stride-for-stride in their greatest weapon with six 3-pointers–none bigger than the Battier 3-pointer in the last minute. And it’s not that the Spurs missed terribly from the outside (40 percent), they simply had trouble finding them.

Matt Bonner, in a slight bit of playoff redemption, nailed half of the four 3-pointers he attempted, but if you remove a 3-pointer heaved to beat a clock–there were only three clean shots he got away.

Whenever the Spurs managed dribble penetration, or movement within a set, Memphis simply fouled. Better to yield a set of free throws or reset the offense than an open 3-pointer.

The Spurs have been a marvel of engineering and execution all season, today the Grizzlies were the wrecking ball. Against a team that creates as many turnovers as anyone in the league, 10 turnovers is an acceptable number. But when weighed against just 13 assists, for a Spurs team that moves the ball as well as any in the NBA, the sort of fight the Grizzlies had in mind takes shape.

In each of the Spurs biggest runs, through the first and third quarters, the Spurs had five assists in both stints. In the second and fourth quarters, the Spurs had three combined, with no assists in the second. For the game the Grizzlies had 22 assists to the Spurs 13.

“We were best when were attacking quickly and not letting them set up their defense,” Spurs Head Coach Gregg Popovich said. “There were periods in the game where we didn’t do that, we slowed up a bit too much.

“W’d like to keep the pace up a little better.”

Picking up the pace to neutralize the combo of Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol as much as possible, that is. The two combined for 49 points on 19-25 from the field, and generally wreaked havoc on the Spurs interior defense.

For Randolph, 25 and 14 is a walk in the park and even given his 10-15 shooting he was reasonably contained for stretches of the game for a player of his ilk. That is to say that he had no offensive rebounds.

What the Spurs cannot live with is the play of Marc Gasol, who appeared every bit determined to make Popovich eat his dumb trade remarks famously made years ago.

“Marc is great, he’s one of the best young centers out there,” Randolph said. “He works hard, he plays the right way, and I love playing with him. He’s going to be an All-Star.”

Future All-Star credentials aside, chances are the younger Gasol is not going to hit 9-of-10 shots in Game 2. Marc channeled the ghost of Dirk Nowitzki’s Game 1 performance from last year, hitting from all over the floor in a breakdown Duncan took personal responsibility for after the game.

“We know they’re going to be some big bodies, we know that’s what their game is based on,” Duncan said. “Them making shots, we’re going to have to pay a little more attention to them obviously. Especially myself with Marc. I think I gave him an easy there trying to keep half an eye on Zach instead of focusing on Marc.”

If this was an outlier performance from Gasol, the Spurs should expect to get Manu Ginobili back and be in great shape heading through the rest of the series. But if this is simply the beginning of a breakout performance?

The Spurs could be in a world more of hurt than their 47 free throws attempted suggests.

  • Bob

    It seems like Pop doesn’t believe in defense any more. Every comment he gives is that they need to hit more shots. Probably explains why he doesn’t play Splitter who has shown the ability to help the defense. I thought he was coming around when he played Splitter against the Suns a couple of weeks ago. If you can win with offense or defense it’s always better to choose defense. Seems Pop chooses offense now. The Spurs don’t need any more 3pt shooters. They need better defenders.

  • Hassan

    @ TD=best ever

    I do agree TP played bad today but our system doesn’t give TP enough assists(highest assist team in NBA) but in basketball there is no hockey assisst & in our system it is usually the pass after that leads(ball movement) to the goal…even manu, hill & RJ have about 3-5 assists/game too as the ball moves on the perimeter al lot after TP penetrates which he didn’t do well at all today so we had assist lows today….

    Man..POP is amazing though…he just refuses to play splitter even 8-12 mins which would have helped…so why pay him 3 million per year; instead we should have gone after Jermaine O’neal, Kurt Thomas or something…. POP I beg you play Tiago some to see what he can do against Gassol so Timmy can play Randolp….

    Also RJ only gets 6 FGA only in a game Manu is absent…that’s just crazy…

    Blair got blocked like 3 times if I remember correctly..

    Hill struggled to elevate his game with manu missing..his numbers today are good for off the bench hill not starting SG number….

    Bonner 24 mins & only 3 rebounds + only 4 FGA but dominated by Randolph so if he plays this much he should at least be set up for 6-7 3-point attempts so he can make at least 3-4 of them and balance out… I guess he will play as POP supposedly loves his ability to space the floor for TP who was atrocious today & should be upset at himself esp in manu’s abscence….

    And finnaly and most important..with the way Duncan played today and TP didn’t play much…HOW can Duncan not get any FGA in the last 20 mins of the game(from 9 mins left in 3rd quarter)…Just un-acceptable…Totally.

    Go Spurs Go…

  • TD = Best EVER

    I know PnR D is up to the Team to stop, but TP gets beat 1v1 alot as well as on the break……For a man as fast as he is with the ball, he gets blown by way too easy…….

    Also a little list:

    OKC might not have Manu – but KD runs a lot of Isolation plays…. No Assist there
    NY/Denver – Raymond Felton – 1st ISO’s w/Amare and the rest of the Knicks = 0 assists and now a back up with Denver
    LBJ – he gets 7 I think… and Wade handles the ball a ton…..
    Houston – Kyle Lowry – Plays with Martin/Scola – between the post ups, and ISO’s here he should struggle more……
    Jru Holiday – AI gets a ton of assists……and Jru still gets his…….

    Point is that Even with Manu, TP with our new offense has the chance to really control the game like he never has before and his numbers have not followed…….He has actually has better years in the past…… And when you combine that plus there are a TON of PG’s that can run pick and roll offense…… basically 80% of PG’s in the league….. he is easily replaceable, and the $ saved would have allowed us to dump RJ and not resign him after he was up……We would be younger, more athletic, and had more flexibility over the next 2-3 years…….And even if we lost some offensively, we have enough Offense…… we would gain it back with the ability to control penetration a little better and been better suited for a title run……

  • Colin Rigney

    Some points from Game 1:

    -In light of some “free Splitter” posts: Splitter would have gotten his ass kicked too by Gasol and Randolph.

    -If Splitter sees the court he had better have TD with him on it, otherwise its a bad coaching move.

    -I don’t see Gasol playing that well through the series. Randolph will.

    -Parker and Hill need to hit shots.

    -Ginobili better come back like gangbusters and not turnover prone.

    -TD needs to get the ball on the block MORE

    -Spur team defense will have to get more creative and help create more turnovers

    -Blair needs to finish the freaking ball–great game otherwise today though

    -Less Bonner please

  • Colin Rigney

    McDyess played his near worst, if not the worst playoff game as a Spur. He needs to pick it up, hit his jumpers and fucking defend or else I would be willing to throw Splitter in there.

  • DorieStreet

    Spurs’ crowd noise is like talk show laughter (or in old days–the laugh track) The announcer/recorded chants have to get the AT&T fans going; there’s no groundswell of cheering/shouting that is sponteneous or springs forth from a situation on the court. And any big shot by the opponent silences the stands like a muffler quickly wrapped around a person’s face. And it doesn’t have to be at end of a game either. A run of 2-3 baskets does it also. It has been that way for the last few seasons–not just during early playoff games.

  • http://twitter.com/ejwestksu Eric Westerman

    It’s clearly an outlier from Gasol. Now, Memphis’ front line is going to beat our guys up for the entire series, but 90% FG and 2.5 points-per-shot will not be repeated.

  • http://twitter.com/ejwestksu Eric Westerman

    Outside of Splitter (while a better defender than Bonner, Memphis’ front line is a touch match-up for him regardless) – there’s nobody else to throw at them. Dyess and Blair were in foul trouble almost from the get-go.

  • http://twitter.com/ejwestksu Eric Westerman

    FT% was right at the team’s regular season average – can you really complain when they shoot at the rate that should be expected?

  • badger

    I was thinking the same thing. As soon as we saw Blair pick up 3rd and 4th fouls, I thought Pop would finally call his number. Nope. I’m dumbfounded why Splitter cannot be put out there 8-12 minutes per game, even if only to mix it up and give a breather to Blair or TD.

  • badger

    I don’t think Tiago would shut them down completely, but he’s big enough to keep Gasol honest, and he’s pretty good at drawing fouls and clogging the lane on D. Also, players are sometimes “feelin’ it”, and Tiago can pass, set screens, board, and maybe get you 10-12 points if he saw 20 minutes of court time. I say give the man an opportunity against a clearly larger team, like Memphis. Blair and Bonner just make them salivate.

  • Xicano47

    Look, man, I don’t want to disrespect anyone, but please, are you for real? Do you think the reason people on this blog get so pissed when we lose is because we don’t support the team? Or do you think blind support no matter how fucked up Pop’s decision are or how bad someone plays constitutes being a “loyal fan?” It’s exactly because we support the Spurs that we get so worked up. What’s so damn hard to understand about that? When I was in Nam, the fucking brass always said the same thing: go out and shoot the gooks and don’t ask any questions. After 55,000 of my comrades in arms came back in body bags we found out it was all bullshit. Blind allegiance to authority is idiotic. Pop comes from that same military mentality … don’t question authority, in this case, his. Bullshit. Bonner and Blair may be useful against some teams but not against the Grizz. That’s obvious to everyone except apparently you and the SA press.

  • badger

    Nobody believes Splitter ought to be on the floor at the end in a close game with his low FT%. However, he would likely get their bigs in foul trouble WAAAAAYYYYYYYY more quickly than Bonner/Blair. Those two are a joke for Gasol and Randolph to defend in the paint.

    The point with Splitter is that he’s big enough, and his feet are quick enough, to slow them down, even if it was for 4-5 minutes at a stretch, 2-3 times per game. Tim would shut down Randolph if he could get his leaner frame away from Gasol. On my tv, Gasol’s bulky body looked huge next to Tim. Randolph, not so much.

  • marrocas

    TD, do you remember Tiago shutting down Aldridge and Nene? He is not barely better than Blair, he is like 6 inches better with much more developed BBIQ. Come on! don’t you agree that Tiago has earned some playing time?, don’t you remember how he played when Duncan went down? Those are the recent memories we all have.

  • Melbourne Spur

    Agree. Splitter shouldn’t see any time. He has played zero playoff minutes, and hasn’t shown enough throughout the year to scream “put me in coach, I’m ready”. People’s obsession with him on this site is insane. Don’t blame Pop for not putting him in as a reason Bonner played so much, blame Dys for getting in foul trouble. We need Dys to play defensive minutes, not Tiago.

    Looking forward to game two. If they continue the trend of fouling so much, and Manu plays, look for him to go 13/15 from the line and put it out of reach.

  • Dr. Leonard McCoy

    Alrighty Spurs fans, here’s Pop’s perscription for Wednesday’s game: MG 20-20. Although Gasol & Randolph were killing us on the inside; our shots were not falling; our free throws were bad; assists were down; ticky tac fouls from the strippy guys; we feel that T-Splitt would have provided better defense than Bonner or DB-45 & defense was lacking around the perimiter, yadda, yadda yadda, but I think that Pop’s final answer is Manu. I don’t really see Pop doing too many adjustments at all, & that’s including giving T-Splitt any minutes for this series (although that would be a pleasant surprise!). I can except for them to run more uptempo & try to penetrate to the paint to get the Grizz’s bigs into foul trouble. I think that in Pop’s mind, MG 20-20 will answer most of those issues from game one, although personally, this team should have easily won game one without him, but perhaps this will be a WAKE-UP CALL for this entire team to execute & play better. GO SPURS GO & GIT ONE 4 THA THUMB!!!

  • Junierizzle

    And with the 11 made FTs they also win easily. PLenty of blame to go around.

  • Junierizzle

    Oh yeah. It doesn’t matter who you put on Randolph, he is still gonna get the same numbers.

  • Titletown99030507defense

    I agree you always want to go inside with Timmy on that situation not to mention it could garner an and 1.

  • Titletown99030507defense

    I’d rather go inside to Timmy and either get a bucket, a bucket and an and1, or a foul instead of a 22 ft shot from the arc.

  • Titletown99030507defense

    While your getting Tyson Chandler can I add Gerald Wallace to that list?

  • Titletown99030507defense

    I’m not a cheerleader. I’m a realist. Marcus Haslip was an athlete look what happened to him.

  • Titletown99030507defense

    Man I couldn’t have said it better. People need to wake up stop their allegiances to their favorite players when they are sucking and point out the failures so that they can learn from them and make the adjustments. Free Tiago! GSG!

  • Titletown99030507defense

    Lay off the koolaid dude you are delirious and represent only 1% of that opinion. Take a poll brother and not just on this blog take it to the streets.

  • Titletown99030507defense

    Get ready for another loss if Splitter is vacationing on the his cushion.

  • Titletown99030507defense

    #2 – It got old a long time ago.
    #6 – Leave Blair on the bench so he doesn’t miss any lay ups.

  • Titletown99030507defense

    Wasn’t TP the one who iced the game in the Hornet playoff series when he used CP3? How soon do we forget.

  • Titletown99030507defense

    Nice one. Yeah I’ll keep Tony as well.

  • Titletown99030507defense

    The key here is the rotating big, Timmy can’t do everything and as it stands the rotations of the bigs aren’t helping out enough to give the much needed results. Good point MSteele.

  • mac

    There seems to be a lot of agreement that trading TP is not such a bad idea afterall, and that Popovich’s stubbornness is costing the Duncan and Ginobili show a real chance at contention. And all that without one peep from the poster known as TradeTP.

    I don’t know how you could have made a trade last summer that brings back Greg Monroe at #7 or higher, but it’s irrelevant now. The last 3 champions, heck, the last 12 champions, all had great big fellas. I have to agree that Popovich, for all his brilliance, just has it wrong. And hand-check rules notwithstanding, Blair and Bonner are NOT the way forward.

  • td4life

    oops… my bad

  • Titletown99030507defense

    All valid points. And my guess I would think either Pop makes the adjustment and players will improve their play for the second game or else same result. But I still say we need to be up 6-8 points with a minute and a half left in the game based on this teams history lately.

  • Titletown99030507defense

    Your right. I think those late 3’s by Bonner did good for his psyche and hopefully spill over to game 2. And again right on the money in regards to the role Bonner has. It’s just asking too much for a player like him accustomed to parking himself at the arc waiting for the opportune time to let her rip to go out an demand that kind of defense in the paint against guys like Gasol and Z-Bo. It’s not his fault it’s Pop’s fault for not accepting the reality of Bonner’s liabilities on defense. He’s good to throw in there to get a few 3’s in a 5 minute span and leave the banging to people like Splitter off the bench. Nothing wrong with that. Bonner will be good for us in that respect.

  • Titletown99030507defense

    Put a star on this. I don’t care if he doesn’t make any of his free throws at least he can slow down the repetitive onslaught of Gasol/Z-BO combo by helping out the other big while Timmy sits or hell help Timmy out on the floor at the same time for that matter, not to mention the fouls he knows how to draw putting the other guys in the penalty. That is a major contribution alone. Add the strong finishes that he would bring around the rim instead of getting his shot blocked because his too short. Didn’t we see him do this time after time while Timmy was out. Wasn’t too long ago was it?

  • Titletown99030507defense

    Blair gave up 13. 6 getting scored on and 7 sending Grizz players to the line that’s a total of 13.

  • Titletown99030507defense

    That is fact. Good post now if only Pop would read your post. They should have one feature during the Spurs telecast instead of that stupid “ask Sean a question text”, they should get one post from a 48MOH thread and let Pop read it at halftime and let him comment on it. Varner is there any way you can swing that? You are getting big.

  • Titletown99030507defense

    I choose defense over shooting more.

  • Tim Varner

    @Titletown,

    I’m very far from big. I’d be happy if I arrive at the dignity of being small. And besides, I doubt Pop would go along. Nice thought, though.

  • Tim Varner

    Eric, thanks for using an avatar.

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  • Dr. Leonard McCoy

    @ Tittletown: Tittletown, do you have pointed ears & green blood, cause from a logical standpoint, you’re right!
    Yea, when it does come to playing the game of basketball, defense deffinatly gets you the “W’s” & eventually championships my friend! To me, the way this current team has been built, it has been built from an offensive standpiont, it seems, by their having to adopt that euro-finese style of play. In the NBA, especially in the playoffs, all of that cream puff stuff has got ta go out the window cause it’s bangin’ time! Battles are won in the paint with defense, & a team would require for it to have at least one real good big man & at least one average big man (although the “gooder” the better with the latter!). Although TD-21 really looked good yesterday, he REALLY needs help! McDyess needs to step up & play better ball (or is his age showing now?); Bonner is going to a gunfight with a twig! I give him credit for his hussle & his willingness to give it all he has, at most of the times, but he’s just not athletic enough to keep up with those Memphis maulers! I believe that at least on a defensive standpoint, T-Splitt would be a better choice in the paint, since he’s bigger, a bit more quicker, & he’s way more defensive minded than Bonner is. DB-45, well, I give him a gold star for heart, but as we all know, he still needs to either develop his game some more, or just let him play his game… Idon’tno! Any who Tittletown, this team is pretty much what it is from what we see, & it’s up to how Pop & company to decide how this team will play… defensive; offensive, or both. I would love to see him make adjustments to better match up, especially from a defensive standpoint, & I believe that Splitter would be a far better upgrade than Bonner in that area. I also believe that a combo of players on the court would also prove to bring better results. We all know that the Blair/Bonner combo doesn’t work well, & perhaps a Splitter/Bonner, along with Manu on the floor could be a working combination, perhaps. Ok. Let me get out of the captian’s chair now & get back to sickbay were I belong…. Damnit Jim! I’m just an old country doctor who wants to see my Spurs win it all! Sorry Tittletown for the long post, but this is therapy, & this is just what the doctor orderd!

  • Bigballs

    My, my – Ian Mahimi would sure look good as big body down low for the Spurs for 10 to 15 minutes per game, instead Spurs let a 22 yr. old, athletic, 7 footer just walk and Splitter is not ready to play at the elite level. Mavs got the kid for nothing after Spurs spent 3 development years on him. Mavs will sign him long term after his inital 2 year deal.

    Bonner on Zach Randolf in the post — are you kidding? Duncan is old, plays old and is nothing more then a jump shooter now. Why not go after Pops Mensu Bonsu whom the Spurs had in camp last year. Young, athletic, fresh legs can jump and play defense. Best of all, he is cheap

  • rj

    i’ll be upset if pop doesn’t go to tiago at some point this series or playoffs even. we can’t allow our team to tank because our lack of interior presence. he will need to gamble on him if we want to avoid getting abused on the inside. i can see pop going either way. taking a risk (although i don’t see it as a major one) and playing splitter, or tanking with bonner and blair.

    p.s.

    not a fan of the new layout

  • rj

    @ ryan

    blair isn’t such a hot freethrow shooter either. gasol and randolph don’t want to get into foul trouble

  • TD = Best EVER

    There was talk of The Kings giving us their pick and something else to get TP…..they need a PG and Tyreke Evans is more of a SG/D-Wadeish…. as in he gets too many TO;s trying to create for others……. The Kings had the 5th pick…..now this was a rumor….. No one really knows how true it was, but I know The Kings were looking for a PG and were willing to trade most of their team this year……So I’m sure a deal could have been struck if our FO was willing to pick up the damn phone…….

  • Colin Rigney

    You obviously didn’t read the whole post! Where in my post did I say Bonner is better than Splitter? I said “less Bonner please” (see last bullett). Take more time and read the post and not react.

  • Colin Rigney

    None of those guys hold a candle compared to what we have. All of those would be horrible trades.

  • Colin Rigney

    Yes he was. Parker can fucking play! People all ready to dump the dude after one loss is crazy.

  • Colin Rigney

    Ha!

  • andy

    honestly, for once i might agree with not playing splitter. where splitter seems to excel (you can’t say splitter hasn’t shown enough defensively, offensively he’s had more hiccups) is against mobile, agile bigs. gasol the lesser and z-bo are not of that mould.

    however, i would like to see him get just a little burn to see if he can slow down z-bo. no one else on our team seems to be having any luck.