Memphis Grizzlies 111, San Antonio Spurs 104: Tony Allen, Zach Randolph form unstoppable two man wrecking crew
If you missed the game, here are the need-to-knows:
- George Hill put on a brilliant offensive performance, scoring 30 points with an array of difficult shots. Â He shot 9-12 from the field and 11-12 from the line and finished as one of the few Spurs with a positive plus-minus.
- In the second quarter, Gregg Popovich was tossed for arguing a non-call on a Marc Gasol steal from Manu Ginobili.
- Manu Ginobili injured his left quad on the same play; he tried playing in the second half, but ultimately couldn’t go.
- Tony Allen playedÂ remarkablyÂ effective defense against the Spurs; Zach Randolph matched Allen’s defensive show with an offensive clinic. Both players finished with 23 pointsâ€”Allen complimented his scoring with 5 steals; Randolph collected 11 boards.
- San Antonio had a 5 point lead with a little over 5 minutes remaining, but went on to turn the ball over on a shot clock violation, Tony Parker stepping out of bounds, and a careless inbound pass from Matt Bonner.
The bigger story here is that this game marked the third consecutive loss for the Spurs, their first such streak of the season. They’re now 0-3 without Duncan, and will likely play the Blazers tomorrow night with neither Duncan nor Ginobili. That’s a hard row to go on a back-to-back.
One week ago I wasn’t in the least bit concerned about the possibility of the Spurs losing home court advantage at any point during the playoffs, but now I’m sweating it, if only a little. Â And beyond that, the Spurs are not putting together a good late season push to ride into the postseason. Other teamsâ€”Lakers and Heat, for exampleâ€”are building momentum for the postseason.
Injuries, poor play, and a rise in play of San Antonio’s potential playoff foes…it’s not the greatest combination of Â story lines for late March.
But we can at least take two silver linings from these three losses. The Spurs feckless play without Tim Duncan has served as a good reminder of how valuable he is to the team. His system knowledge, court leadership and post presence still mean more than we realize. And, interestingly, Tiago Splitter has played well in Duncan’s place. Going back 5 games, Splitter is averaging 8 points and nearly 8 rebounds in just over 22 minutes of playing time, with regular stints of sound, effective defense.
It’s a little maddening that the Spurs’ coaching staff hasn’t found more playing time for Splitter, but there is no question now that he is anÂ occasionalÂ double-double player in the NBA. Once he receives an uptick in minutes and a regular spot in the rotation, there is no reason to think he’s not a 10 point, 8 rebound player, and a meaningful defender to boot. And, you know, I think he could top those projections, depending on what he adds to his body and game this offseason.
But that’s next season. Right now, the Spurs need to grab a few buckets and clear water from the hull of their ship.