San Antonio Spurs 93, Memphis Grizzlies 87: Don’t sweat the technique

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AT&T CENTER — San Antonio needed this one. Boy they sure needed it. The Spurs are still a helluva good basketball team, no matter how far they make it in this year’s playoffs, but going down 2-0 at home to these Memphis Grizzlies does not kick-off a championship run.

Luckily, after 48 minutes of game action on Wednesday night, the return of Manu Ginobili to San Antonio’s lineup was enough to help the Spurs even the series with the Memphis Grizzlies in a 93-87 win, and keep a playoff run alive.

Ginobili brings the edge to this Spurs team that no other player does. It should be enough that Manu is arguably the best player on the roster, and yet he brings the ruthlessness like no other. DeJuan Blair has hustle and motor, and Neal oozes a quiet fearlessness, but no one brings the edge to the Spurs like Manu.

“Everyone knows what kind of competitor Manu is,” Spurs Head Coach Gregg Popovich said after the game. “Just to have him on the floor is a plus for the psyche of the whole team, without a doubt.

“And, on top of that, he played pretty well.”

In Sunday’s Game 1 loss, the Spurs managed just 13 assists on 28 field goals, and Tony Parker mentioned after morning shootaround that not having Manu in the lineup meant that Parker would be running the bulk of the pick-and-rolls during the game. Normally, he said, it was closer to a 50-50 split. With Ginobili back in for Game 2, the Spurs assists on 21 out of their 32 field goals.

Having both players in the lineup allows the Spurs to attack at different angles and with different styles, and allow both players to attack pick-and-rolls with slightly fresher legs than they would with the other.

Parker and Ginobili combined for 11 of the Spurs’ 21 assists, though the pair also contributed seven turnovers. Five of those miscues from Ginobili.

“I felt a little rusty on the pick-and-rolls,” Ginobili said postgame. “I wasn’t very sharp on finding my teammates on the rolls or the shooters in the corners.”

On the defensive end, the Spurs were able to hold Memphis below 40% shooting on the game and limited Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol, who gave the Spurs fits on Sunday, to a combined 23 points.

The Spurs did it by swarming down low, sending help defense from many different angles. One play it would be Manu flying down the baseline to try and block a shot, the next George Hill would drop down from the top of the key to swipe at the ball.

“They were very physical and they attacked [Randolph] every time he put the ball on the floor,” Grizzlies Head Coach Lionel Hollins said. “They did what they set out to do, they took the ball out of his hands.”

A bulk of the defense played on Randolph was by Antonio McDyess who battled hard in the lane. Tim Duncan also spent some time on Randolph, which was a bit of a change from Game 1. But at this point in his career, Duncan isn’t quick enough to keep up with Randolph for long stretches, especially when Z-Bo faces up and looks to put the ball on the floor.

San Antonio was able to survive, holding Randolph and Gasol to a combined 7-of-23 from the floor and outrebounding Memphis 48-47. Gasol did grab 17 of the Grizzlies’ 47 boards, though.

It wasn’t a pretty game, as it’s hard for two teams shooting sub-45% to produce one, but it was the kind of result that the Spurs will need to be able to recreate on the regular. Like Saturday night, for instance.

  • Mark B

    Usually Bonner is terrible on defense, but he hasn’t been too bad during the Memphis series. He’s been more physical, and he’s picked up a few more fouls than usual, but he’s not doing his usual matador bit. He’s been good … for Matt.

  • Mark B

    Usually Bonner is terrible on defense, but he hasn’t been too bad during the Memphis series. He’s been more physical, and he’s picked up a few more fouls than usual, but he’s not doing his usual matador bit. He’s been good … for Matt.

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  • Bob

    Very good point. The goal isn’t to beat Memphis. It’s to win a championship. This series should go 5 games max to be rested for OKC next round. The best three interior defenders (Duncan, Dice, Splitter) should be getting the bulk of the PF/C minutes. Since Duncan and Dice are older you want to be able to rest them and still maintain a presence. Splitter will be needed later so getting him minutes now helps. Good defensive teams are going to nullify Bonner. Yet they won’t be able to nullify the length and defense Splitter can provide.

  • Titletown99030507d

    So what’s the logic in playing Blair when he’s getting 2 points , 5 rebounds, in 13 minutes? Splitter can match the rebounds and get 3 times as many points and still not give up as many points by getting waxed at the rim like Blair does. How many times does that happen to this dude on a nightly basis? A lot. So then where is the logic to claim that he’s some bad ass the league has to contend with. You and the media has fallen in love with someone who will never elevate his game another notch. He’ll never be an all-star where as Splitter has more potential and game right now than Blair will ever have on many facets of the game and to be an all-star before Blair will ever be. Not saying he’s going to be one but has a better chance at it before Blair. I’m sick and tired of having to read nonsense crap about how great Blair is. He’s a liability on defense like his buddy Bonner and has no outside shot hell he can’t even make a damn lay up or put back. To support my statement where the hell is he in the last moments of the game? On the bench where he belongs. In my opinion they just wasted Splitter this season especially if he showed that hard headed, feeble minded coach already what he’s done. Funny how Timmy gets back from injury and then they ignore all the play and production Splitter contributed. But I guess you have to be in the club membership a whole year before your actually allowed to participate.

  • Titletown99030507d

    Your delirious man! Blair misses a shit load of easy ones it’s hilarious. Sorry dude Splitter will out rebound that shorty like a knife going thru butter and he won’t get scored on nasty like he does all night long. Not to mention Mr. “I just fouled someone and it’s only 30 seconds since my feet has touch the hardwood for the first time” couldn’t get a double/double in the first game after seeing a butt load of minutes. The only reason that coach that’s coaching the Spurs isn’t playing Splitter is because of seniority. Sounds stupid right? But that’s the real reason look a G Hill last year it happened to him too.But hey if Pop wants to squander a good contributer let him it’s on him. But next season Splitter will be waxing the floor with Blair. I can’t wait. He already proved it when Timmy was gone for that stretch no too long ago, he outplayed Blair nasty. Add up the numbers from the box during that stretch he obliterated Blair and Bonner’s numbers. Blair has no true position he’s too small for center and he’s too wide with no shot to be a small forward. So where the hell do you put him? On the bench till it’s time for trash minutes or for maybe 5-8 minutes for some needed rebounds. Just enough time to not foul anybody and give points away. If I was the owner of this team I’d slap some sense in Pop’s head and maybe the rotations would look right. Mark my words if Manu has a bad game Blair isn’t going to a factor. Really.

  • Titletown99030507d

    I hear you man. Some people just won’t admit when they are wrong. And I’m not talking about TD=BeastEver, I won’t waste my time on him, it’s that damn coach I’m talking about he’s ignoring talent that can make things a lot easier for Timmy and company. Tiago has been in this situation before playing under pressure in championship atmosphere and got an MVP for it at the end of the season. And that “this is the NBA not Liga” is load of shit. The Argentines once upon a time not to long ago kick our NBA asses to hell and back. Where the hell do these ignorant people think Tony, Manu, Scola, Gasol, Fernandez, and Splitter came from just to name a few. Fundamentally there are players in that league right now that are better than some of these true NBA bench warmers. I wouldn’t be surprised Pop rides off into the sunset with Timmy in the near future when it’s all over for Timmy. Hope he does.

  • Titletown99030507d

    I think people get it but don’t want to say anything in fear of having a posting war with TDBE. This guy hates Splitter. He’s afraid he’ll get all of Blair’s minutes. It’s funny how well he played while Timmy was out then gets put back on the shelf only to see Pop play his pathetic big rotations coming of the bench.
    I think all that wine is fixing his brain (like formaldehyde) I’t’s probably cheap wine someone put a Pinot Noir label on his box of Franzia.

  • Digiphoto45

    Because Splitter has to be in the club for 1 year before his privileges are activated for playoffs.

  • Digiphoto45

    If that coach that coaches the Spurs ever plays Tiago in the future it’s going to be fun to watch those two battle each other.

  • Digiphoto45

    Good point Marc. If they let Timmy do all the work he could run out of gas sooner than later. Your right, just a little time for Splitter and Timmy can rest.

  • JustinFL

    JustinFL

    (Haven’t posted in awhile) Yes we would all like some Splitter (most of us), but Pop’s gameplan is for a stretch 4 we all know. No use in being down on Blair or even Bonner. I don’t agree with this combo either and they didn’t produce much last game, but they are not asked to do much. They for the most part fulfill their designated roles. Shoot open 3’s and hustle and rebound. In most cases, we don’t win or lose the game because of what they do. The buck stops with the Big 3, RJ, GHill, and McDyess. Anyhting we get from them is extra. But granted, we do desperately need everything they can give us.
    IMHO this was the best series for us. We don’t need to be shying away from physical aggressive teams, we need to mimic and learn from them. This series will make us stronger, and if it doesn’t, we had no shot of winning a title this year. I believe we have a great chance. We matched up well against OKC all year. If they get out the first round it will be they’re first time. Our experience goes a long long way against them. More than likely they get out the first round and hopefully get satisfied with that accomplishment. If not, they have no low post scorer, so in a nutshell, make Durant, Westbrook, and Harden jumpshooters and we should be ok.

  • Digiphoto45

    The one benching the scrub is a wine drinking Son of gun.

  • Digiphoto45

    Are you kidding? I really don’t think it would matter if it was Blair.

  • Bruno

    “we don’t win or lose the game because of what they do”

    Are u kidding right?
    Spurs bench without Bonner/Blair combo, always would provide +5/+15.
    With the combo is -5/-10 every single game. They lose 10-20 points per game!!
    And about the psychological effects, giving confidence to other team, training them with second chances
    When the starters return, they need waste a lot energy to make us win.

    Bonner/Blair combo is a cancer and affects everything.

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  • JustinFL

    Spurs MO is all about execution in the final 4 to 5 minutes. I can assure you Bonner or Blair will not be in there unless there is an injury or some crazy matchup Pop wants to exploit. Even then, that is going to be rare because Pop is desiring experience and execution at the end of the game. As you read, I am not crazy about the combo, but I do trust in Pop’s decisions and system. That is what Bonner and Blair are for the most part, system players. I choose to support the team with the players we have. Yes they have flaws, who doesn’t, but part of the team game is utilizing the strengths of your players and I feel Pop is the best at that.
    Another good sign for this game was that we held a team under 90 points and we scored under the 100 mark. We need a good grudge match to remind us this is what it takes to win a championship. Just from the score it would seem more energy was spent on the defensive end. Although, it does appear both teams didn’t shoot well from the field and they could have been suffering from an off shooting night. I choose to believe the former.

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