San Antonio Spurs 102, Memphis Grizzlies 92
The Spurs were able to down the Grizzlies in a steady but unspectacular performance last night. The game continues an encouraging uptick from the Spurs, but this one will be remembered as the game in which Tony Parker fractured the fourth metacarpal in his right hand.
Parker fractured his fourth metacarpal while scrumming for a loose ball in the final seconds of the second quarter. For all intents and purposes, the injury will cause Parker to miss the rest of the regular season â€” after the game, coach Gregg Popovich said his starting point guard would be out â€œabout six weeks.â€
San Antonio won this game in the second quarter, when their bench went on a scoring spree to which Memphis would never answer.
Gregg Popovich began the second quarter with a lineup of Tony Parker, Roger Mason Jr., Richard Jefferson, Matt Bonner and Tim Duncan. That lineup ran off a 20-6 spurt, including 4 three point field goals. The score was 42-34 before Gregg Popovich called a mid-quarter timeout to sub Manu Ginobili and George Hill for Mason and Parker. But the damage was already done, and the Spurs simply maintained their lead from that point forward.
This victory served as a reminder that when the Spurs hit their threes, they’re very difficult to beat. The team shot 42.9% on the game, with Hill, Mason, Jefferson, Bonner and Ginobili contributing to the effort. If Mason Jr. and Matt Bonner continue to play well, it will ease the loss of Parker. And the Spurs must be intrigued by the increasingly steady play of Richard Jefferson, whose bench performance led the team in points and rebounding.
Richard Jefferson’s best play of the season has come in the last two weeks, and all from the bench. It will be curious to see how Gregg Popovich accounts for the loss of Tony Parker. It’s doubtful, given their strong bench play, that Pop will seek to fill Parker’s starting role with either Ginobili or Jefferson. Both players are flourishing in their current roles. Why mess with that? At the same time, Parker’s absence means the Spurs’ starting unit will require ball handling and scoring, and one wonders if Roger Mason Jr. is up to the task.
Monday’s game against Cleveland provides a different sort of intrigue than previously thought. Prior to Memphis, the Cavs game was a chance for the Spurs to measure themselves against the league’s best team. Now, it marks the start of San Antonio’s push to stay in the playoff chase despite the loss of Tony Parker.