How the Spurs nearly gave everything away
It’s difficult to imagine anyone demurring the game you just watched — the Spurs’ 110-103 OT defeat of the Memphis Grizzlies — as anything less than spectacular. The game, quite literally, pitted the San Antonio Spurs against history. And not simply the history that is this season, that was merely a subplot in the foreground, but against the big backdrop of history that began in 1999 and continues to the present. The 2011 playoffs are no longer about the San Antonio Spurs’ season. That would be too easy. The Spurs’ postseason play is now, perhaps inescapably, measured against an era. All eras must end.
But the Spurs nearly gave it away tonight; the Spurs flirted with that final jot of punctuation that will, eventually, close the book on something we’ve yet to fully appreciate. But we’re not there yet. And the Spurs narrowly escaped the undoing of themselves.
The Spurs, as you know, jumped out to an early lead. In the first half they were up as many as 16 points, but left for halftime with a meager 8 point advantage. The Grizzlies played a much better second half, and it seems the Spurs’ season would come to an end on the strength of Memphis’ third quarter, which they won 26-15. When the game shifted during the third, San Antonio’s postseason hopes appeared doomed. The end was near.
The Spurs’ once unshakable ability to execute gave way to their recently discovered failures in execution. Credit Memphis. This is what they do; the Grizzlies force turnovers. They’ve done so all season, and they do it well. But long before Manu Ginobili and Gary Neal saved San Antonio’s season with two improbable late game shots, the Spurs squandered opportunities to tie, pull ahead, or secure the game. The Spurs wasted no fewer than 5 possessions when the game’s outcome hung in the balance. With all that was on the line, San Antonio added to the drama with a string of careless plays.
|Score||TO||Pts off TO||Score|
|7:05/4th||78-80||Ginobili bad pass||Mayo layup||78-82|
|6:36/4th||78-82||Duncan bad pass||Missed Shot||78-82|
|5:18/4th||80-84||Ginobili bad pass||Young FTs||80-86|
|1:06/4th||88-91||Ginobili loses ball||No score||88-91|
|1:55/OT||103-101||McDyess Bad Pass||Randolph Layup||103-103|
In this series’ most closely contested games, the Spurs’ inability to take care of the basketball has nearly cost them their basketball lives. This is absolutely a series where every possession counts. And, at least in terms of turnovers, the Spurs aren’t helping themselves. It’s hard to watch San Antonio’s sloppy handle on the basketball after so many years of flawless late game execution. It feels a little like talking with an Alzheimer’s patient who can’t remember your name. But tonight the Spurs not only pulled something true from memory, they gave us something more to add to ours.