San Antonio Spurs 112, Memphis Grizzlies 106: Eventually, the Spurs will lose a close game

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AT&T CENTER — The pass went traveled quickly from Tony Parker to Manu Ginobili. And just as soon as it touched the hands of Ginobili, it was in the air, destined for Richard Jefferson. A beautiful alley-oop dunk to finish off another Spurs win.

The San Antonio Spurs had a five point lead with under a minute left in the fourth quarter and were about to finish the Memphis Grizzlies off. But then, things didn’t go as they should’ve. Jefferson fumbled the ball and never even got a shot off.  Instead, the ball went out of bounds and Memphis had a chance.

The Grizzlies went the other way and OJ Mayo scored a layup. After Tony Parker missed a jumper with about 38 seconds left, Mayo nailed a 3-pointer with 21.6 seconds left. Tie game. What should’ve been an insurmountable lead just seconds ago was now a contest in limbo.

The Spurs missed on their final attempt of the fourth quarter. Manu Ginobili considered taking a step-back 3-pointer for the win, but dished off to Tim Duncan cutting through the lane. Duncan passed to Jefferson in the short corner but RJ air balled the shot and the game went to overtime. The Spurs outscored Memphis 12-6 in overtime and won the game 112-106, but their performance left much to be desired.

“I thought it was a sloppy game on our part, but we did maintain our effort and the effort never let up and finally got us an opportunity to win it at the end,” Spurs Head Coach Gregg Popovich said after the game.

Every time the ball went in the air and caromed off the rim, it seemed like a lost cause. Almost a quarter of the time during the Spurs’ win on Saturday night at the AT&T Center, the ball ended up in Zach Randolph’s hands.

“We were fronting Zach Randolph, so when the shot goes up, you’re on the wrong side to box out,” Spurs forward Matt Bonner said. “That definitely made a difference.”

The Spurs kept trying to pull away in the third and early fourth quarter, but the Memphis Grizzlies wouldn’t let them. And Randolph, who finished the game with 24 points and 21 rebounds, was a major reason why. Randolph grabbed 10 offensive rebounds on the night, more than the entire Spurs team.

“Zach Randolph is maybe one of the best rebounders that we’ve seen in the league, especially at the offensive end,” Coach Pop said. “He does that all the time. It’s no surprise.”

Offensively, OJ Mayo was ridiculous for Memphis, he scored 27 points on 11-19 from the field, including 5-8 from the 3-point line. But even more ridiculous was the line from Tony Parker. The Spurs point guard put up 37 points on 15-21 shooting and nine assists.

The Spurs were able to weather the storm of the Grizzlies dominance on the offensive glass, Memphis outrebounded San Antonio 48-41 overall, and take their record to an NBA-best 23-3. Even if the Spurs play .500 ball for the rest of the season, they would still finish with 51 wins. It’s amazing to think about that considering the struggle last season appeared.

The Spurs host the new-look Suns on Monday night.

  • Dr. Who

    I can’t circle the wagons and be doom and gloom after the series of close games. It does bother me that we have these mental erros in the 4th and almost lose these games, but it was 3 games in 4 nights. The Spurs were doing this a ton last year. They didn’t tighten up until the later part of the season. It’s good that they are finding ways to win these close games. And we can clean up the mental errors and sloppy play in the 4th before March. Those mental lapses last year cost us playoff seeding. This year the fast start has been about as good a gift as you could ask for.

    On the matter of Udoka… I think a poster has already hit this, his d is shot and he’s a shadow of his former self that had a good season or two here. Yes the monster Gary Neal dunk was courtesy of horrific D by Udoka. Anderson will be brought back into the fold slowly but come playoff time we will really be able to use him for defense on the wings. That’s something that is a bit lacking right now.

    Can you call and elephant in the room a dead horse??? The frontcourt, yes we need to address some of the issues here but it won’t be via trade. Any trade to bring in a 7 footer worth his salt would end up shaking up the roster. We’d have to give up a key player to land a legit shot blocker. And why would the team with the best record in the NBA make such a trade? It’s not the Spurs style for one. We’ve seen much worse Spurs teams stand pat and make no trade. Why would the Spurs brass pull the trigger on a trade while having the best record in the NBA. Sure the obvious reply is that we are not the best team in the NBA, just the one with the best record. True… but we still have a whole lotta season to go. Once more the front court discussion turns to our favorite subject (Post Jim Henderson) Tiago… BTW, during the Henderson glory years the favorite subject was DeJuan Blair and his ceiling but I digress… I had my previous 30 page post on Tiago and stick by those same points. If we don’t see Tiago being developed come February then I’ll start ranting. He did get his “junk” roughened up the other night so more reason to rest him. I’m not sure if Pop has figured out his role yet; time will tell. They see the kid in practice and Tiago is chomping at the bit to play, he isn’t nursing an injury not wanting to play. The kid wants to compete. That’s a good thing. I think we’ll get a nice measuring stick playing the Fakers and Celts. We already failed the first one playing the Mavs. Someone posted the stats of their bigs in our loss. However they left one out…. Haywood wasn’t playing. What I said about the Mavs at the beginning of the season was that their best move wasn’t getting Chandler (it was a close second). Their best move was dumping Dampier. Chandler when healthy has given Timmy fits. Dampier for his entire career has been Timmy’s b_tch. Addition by subtraction. Should be interesting to see how the rest of the games shake out with the Ponies. I really hate the Phoenix trade. And I wish we were playing them after their players got settled in. Phoenix just got longer and a pair of defensive bigs. That ain’t good… But the teams making trades are the ones that have OK records, but know they can’t compete with the best in their respective conferences. The Spurs aren’t there yet. And honestly the only glaring lack they have is in the frontcourt. In the playoffs you’ll get a healthy dose of TD and McDyess which will help but Blair and Tiago need to be big in the playoffs as well. I expect little to nothing from Bonner in the playoffs based on his past history. If he comes up with some big shots, then it’s just “Sandwich Hunter” gravy. Spurs brass should have a plan for playoffs and they see the big picture. Let’s not lose sight of that. I’d really like to see how we play against the new look Suns with all of their players (bigs especially) acclimated. It’s a shame we have to play them tonight.

    Also the bigs that have killed us so far this year have killed everyone. I recall some people acting like Love was a joke. Um yeah… that dude is the real deal. Ok well Darko posting number on us was the anomaly. But Blake Griffin… if he was playing for any other franchise I’d label him as the future of the NBA. Haven’t ever been as impressed with a young big man since Duncan suited up. The Clipps were one of my sleeper teams, while their record is still sleeping; their play is certainly fun to watch. Their front court is no fluke. If the Spurs front court can become above average that should be enough to be serious contenders to unseat the Lakers because our backcourt is one of if not the best in the league. Speaking of those Lakers… do you think there is so much doom and gloom on their board based on their start?

    BTW I was not a Shaq supporter. He made a statement he wanted a “farewell tour.” He’s always been a media hound and had a circus surround him. Boston was a better fit; they had role players at the 5 (Perkins/Big Baby). We have the GOAT at the 4/5 in TD. If Shaq has showed anything during the years it’s that he has a slightly high opinion of himself. At his age he’s still someone that Perkins or Big Baby still look up to. Timmy even though older, doesn’t exactly look up at Shaq. How would the Big Aristotle feel about coming off the bench to replace TD? Remember how Phoenix destroyed the Spurs with the PAR in last year’s playoffs? Shaq’s footwork was never the best, nor was his work ethic; he’s always been bigger than everyone else and freakishly gifted for his size. Obviously he’s not the same guy. You could easily see a team running the PAR to death on us with Shaq in the middle. Not to mention the new up tempo offense would have a straggler getting down the court. And then there is the chemistry issue… ON thing that has been consistent with the Spurs is that no one player has ever been bigger than the team. I’m not sure if that is totally within Shaq. We’ll see how things work out in Boston, but I really feel that was a much beter fit for him that here in SA. OK I got my flame suit on fire away at will =p At least if will get us off of posts about Tiago for a while!

  • jwalt

    tyler, yes really.

    Take the 2005 Finals. Duncan made 71% of his FT’s in the first 3 quarters, 44% in the 4th quarter. He does many things well in clutch situations, like rebounding and defense. But offensively he is worse in the last 4 minutes than in the first 44. 82games does a stat analysis of clutch play, Manu is always in the top five in the league, Duncan somewhere in the 40’s. That isn’t bad, but his even being that high is mainly because he rebounds and blocks shots when it matters.

  • The Admiral

    Observations 26 games into the regular season:

    1. Pop’s best coaching performance

    2. We are winning games we would normally lose (even during other 55+ win seasons) – that is a huge plus

    3. If we are able to scrape out home court advantage in the West – look out!

    4. We are deeper offensively than we have ever been before

    5. The opportunity to win a 5th championship will hinge on Splitter’s development or the ability to trade for a great full court big (e.g. Anderson Verijao, Brook Lopez, Tyson Chandler, etc.)

    6. The Spurs will never get the media attention they deserve

  • Tyler

    @jwalt

    I guess it depends on how you define “clutch”, but I seem to remember TD hitting a bunch of huge shots over the years, from his 3pter in game 1 against PHX (playoffs, 2009) to the tough, tough, jumper he hit against LA to put the Spurs up 1 right before Fisher made .4 famous.

    If you want to make the case that he’s not a great free throw shooter, then that can be argued. But when it comes to making plays in the clutch, TD makes the right play almost all the time, whether that’s hitting the shot, getting the block on defense, or passing out of the double team to wide open teamate for the back breaker.

  • td4life

    jwalt–

    I agree with you, but it’s something I never mention, and try not to think about.

    Re: Shaq, my comment was that he makes the C’s better, and I would prefer it if he weren’t there. I do think he is a better fit there than anywhere else. He wasn’t my first choice in SA. Tyson Chandler was. Tyrus Thomas was my second. Guys I would have made sacrifices to have on the roster this year. I’d have happily taken Turiaf. Short of all that, and deeper in the summer, I wouldn’t have given up anything for Shaq, but would have made an offer.

    Re: “mega-trade.” Washington doesn’t get any better, and remains irrelevant. But somehow save money long-term in acquiring Rashard Lewis. Funny that the only way of getting rid of Arenas, was to trade the two worst contracts in the L for eachother. Probably means Yi isn’t part of their future (so what), and probably niether is Josh Howard.

    Orlando… not sure they improved. Defense? They had to dump Lewis, and had a trade commodity in Gortat. Pietrus wasn’t working for them. Turk is likely an upgrade over Pietrus and Lewis. Richardson is no worse than Carter. And they now have 3 guards who can score, but there’s still only one ball. Good for them that they are going with Bass more. I’m reallly surpirsed that they are in a worse financial place now. Don’t respect Otis Smith as a GM, but I don’t think they are worse this year.

    Suns… I think they are the quiet winners of this trade. Suns fans who are upset are ignorant. Carter for Rich is fine. Pietrus is part of a logjam once again, but has a chance to earn minutes. Gortat is a score for them. I thought Orlando could send Lewis, Pietrus, and Gortat for Nash, Turk, and maybe either Hill or J-Rich… and pave the way to acquire Carmelo, which would have been scary. So I’m impressed that PHX scored Gortat and dumped Turk without having to take Lewis or lose Nash… and they got a draft pick to boot? Why? They won the trade outright w/o the pick. They did good for themselves, considering the situation they were in.

  • jwalt

    tyler — I rest my case with td4life’s comment. I have great respect for Duncan. I think he actually is underrated, at least defensively. But he’s a nervous athlete — a victim of being too intelligent if you ask me.

    I agree about the Suns getting the better of the trade, and the reason being Gortat. He’s a legitimate starting center and will improve Phoenix a lot.

  • http://48minutesofhell.com Andrew A. McNeill

    A note on the final shot of regulation and Duncan’s pass. I was told after the game that Duncan passed the ball because he was afraid of getting called for a charge. But looking at the replay, he wasn’t in any danger of a charge.

  • TD = Best Ever

    @ jwalt

    You have no Idea what you are talking about…………. Timmy has made several clutch plays over the years and him passing that ball is more to do with his lack of explosiveness now than anything else……

    If you watched the last few games RJ has shot and made at least 4 wide open 3’s on similar Timmy rolling to the basket plays and YES HE SHOULD HAVE BEEN READY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Yes he SUCKS at shooting FT’s – but that’s IT…………. NO BIG MAN IS CLUTCH…………. Too easy to Double team and get the ball out of his hand…………..

    You must not be a SA Fan

    2005 game 7 – who carried the team in the 4th Qt including the last 5 min of the game getting Wallace to foul out and picking up 3 other fouls on Detroit’s BIG’s. When he had LIFT to FINISH ABOVE THE RIM HE DID!!!!!!!!!!!! Now that he can’t – he has to pass more on those plays……….

    I say again – WATCH THE WHOLE GAME AND NOT JUST HIGHLIGHTS

  • Dr. Who

    @td4life

    Suns… I think they are the quiet winners of this trade. Suns fans who are upset are ignorant.

    Yep… if anything Pietrus, and Gortat without giving up something other than Nash or Hill is a steal. Turk didn’t fit their system at all and Pietrus has shown he can be a nasty defender which will help in the West with the length. Orlando didn’t do so badly since Carter wasn’t all he was cracked up to be and Hedo thrived in Orlando’s system. Big question for Orlando is if Turk will be the same Turk he’s been everywhere else or if he’ll be the solid Turk he was in Orlando. What makes this a win for Orlando is that it was rumored that Howard wanted Turk back and more firepower. He’s a FA so if they keep him happy he’ll resign. that may be the biggest win if it does indeed keep him happy.

  • td4life

    jwalt and TD = Best Ever,

    Manu is the go-to guy on the Spurs for a reason, and was at least co-MVP of the ’05 Finals. Parker is the only other guy who comes close to his confidence in any situation, but he’s a less versatile basketball player. That’s one thing I have liked about Blair last season, and I hope he never loses it.

    Pierce, Wade, Nash, even Dirk, these guys are never shy. Duncan is better than all of them, accounting for two-way play and character intangibles, but he is not the definition of clutch. Hopefully, he remembers this, and remembers when they were in danger of losing to Detroit in 7 games, and realizes that he will have to be the MAN on this team come 2011 playoffs, that aggressiveness pays, and that do-or-die, it’s his team not Ginobili’s, not Parker’s, and not Jefferson’s. If he’s the reason they lose, so be it. The Spurs will need that attitude from him, and it has been there, but inconstant, against the Lakers, for example.

    At least that’s what I’ve seen ever since Parker’s rookie season.

  • TD = Best Ever

    @ td4life

    You just made my Point – those guys all have one thing in common – VOLUME SHOOTERS and/or Jump Shooters…………. Tim is neither……… Look back thru history – No traditional big man has ever been the go to guy late….. they all have low FT% and can be doubled to easy………. That’s why Dirk and Pierce get the ball at the High Post – where you can’t double as easy………..

    So yes I agree he needs to be more aggressive – but will never be CLUTCH in the Jordan/Kobe sense of the word

  • TD = Best Ever

    OK my Bad – maybe Hakeem – but that’s about all I can remember………

  • td4life

    TD=BestEver

    all Tim had to do was fearlessly take that easy shot saturday night, and we wouldn’t be having this conversation.

    Hopefully, it eats at him and he takes those shots, wants the ball, and the shot, come playoff time.

  • jwalt

    TD =BestEver — I have not missed a minute of Spur games this year, no matter what else I am a fan. I have the 2005 DVD (which I’m sure you do too) and you can’t possibly think Tim carried them in the 4th quarter.

    Manu was involved in every field goal outside of one in the last 8 minutes of that game. Duncan had carried the team in the 3rd quarter, and gave them their confidence back. He was a stud. But it was Manu who made all the plays down the stretch. Well, not true, Bowen and Horry also made big plays.

    But if you watch the entire 4th quarter and pretend you don’t know any of the players, I can’t believe anyone who knows basketball who wouldn’t say that Manu was the MVP of that team.

  • jwalt

    td4life — I subtlely disagree, though certainly not the part of Manu being at least the co-MVP of 2005.

    But I think one of the ‘hard’ decisions the coaching staff made over the summer is that offensively it was not going to be Duncan’s team anymore. He has struggled more and more being a low post scorer, and I think Pop came to the conclusion that Duncan’s touches had to be lowered.

    I have always said and still believe, Duncan has been overrated offensively and underrated defensively. He affects more shots and is in the right place more often than any other post player in the league. But he’s gone from excellent to very good to so-so as a post scorer.

    And his leadership and intelligence is off the charts. But the ball is in Manu’s hands, like you said, for a reason. A very good reason. However anyone wants to define it, he is the very essence of clutch, and has been since 2005. And Manu’s intangibles are off the charts as well.

  • irongiantkc

    I have been reading 40 Minutes of Hell for about a year now and love it. This is my first comment ever. Could somebody tell me why so many of you guys are questioning Pop on personnel moves. I have read on this post that the Spurs are going to be in trouble against teams with bigs. I have heard that Tim needs more playing time. I have heard (and this is really bizarre) that we need to figure out what to do with the 11th and 12th guys on the bench or we’re really going to be in trouble. Tiago Splitter?! Come on, people. He’s the back-up’s back-up. He is not important this year. He will take at least a year to truly contribute just like RJ did. He didn’t play two seconds in the preseason. He’s an after thought…as he should be. Alot of the comments sound like we’ve lost 6 or 7 games in a row. We’re 24-3. Don’t invent stuff to worry about. That said, Dallas is scary good. How are they not 8 games back with the record that the Spurs have?

  • TD = Best Ever

    @ jwalt

    No I don’t have the 2005 DVD or any DVD’s for that matter……….. I’m a Bluray only guy…………..

    But I remember watching Game 7 and I remember the felling I walked away with…… I remember what the commentators said and what the post game analysis was………….

    Not saying that Manu didn’t have his highlights but EVERYONE gave that game to Timmy and the 2nd half…………. yes Timmy scored more in the 3rd but few big men score a ton in the 4th down the stretch – See my comments to TD4Life earlier- but all in all that game belong to Timmy

    http://www.nba.com/games/20050623/DETSAS/recap.html

    Just read what NBA.COM had to say about that Game 7

  • jwalt

    best ever — just because the press says it doesn’t make it so. Buy the DVD (or Blue-Ray), it contains the entire 4th quarter. Al Michaels and Hubie Brown kept talking about Duncan while Ginobili kept making the winning plays. Even defensively Manu’s man never scored, though the Pistons were trying to go right at him. Manu missed one field goal in the 4th, outside of that he played a perfect quarter.

    There were back-to-back plays were Duncan made a FG off of a Ginobili assist, then Ginobili made a 3-pointer off of a Duncan assist. Hubie Brown talked only about Duncan when replaying that 2 play sequence. “A big shot followed by a big pass.” Manu got as much credit as you and i did.

    You are trying to make me out to be anti-Duncan, and I am not. Like I said, I believe he is the best post defender in the last 10 years, and his intangibles are wonderful.

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