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


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.

  • Humberto

    This series looks to be as ugly as any. Low shooting percentages are going to be a constant.

  • Peter

    Ugly win is better than a close loss. But who expected to limit ZBo and Gasol and STILL be in a dogfight for 48 minutes? Grizzlies finding ways to keep it close; hope the Spurs can find ways to win.

    A little more from Dice sure would help.

  • Bruno

    Great Recap Andrew!

    Can u believe there are people who say Manu isn’t our MVP?
    TD and RJ played well, Hill and Dice too(in 2nd half)

    Although Bonner / Blair, the team played well on defense

  • Gomezd

    That was a painful game to watch, specially the last quarter, it was brutal that everytime it seemed like we might just pull away memphis always had an answer, hard game but bottom line we got the W

  • NYC

    Alright, guys: didn’t get to see the game. Real life has been intruding on my basketball schedule lately. What’s everyone’s impressions?

    The highlights had it looking like Manu had risen from the dead to work miracles, humbling these young Grizzlies and reminding them who is still king. The comments here, however, suggest less revelry and more weariness. Did we only squeak by with the win? Was Manu not dancing on water? According to this article, we seemed to have disrupted both Gasol’s and Randolph’s game. McDyess seems to be recapturing his performance against Dirk from last year. Is this not the case?

    What’s the story, guys?

  • TD BestEVER

    I saw the entire game….. The story breaks down like this…… After game 1 – Everyone said gasol would have such a good game again and that Manu would be back and we shouldn’t worry…….

    Well Gasol didn’t score as well and neither did Z-Bo……. Manu did return and play well…..And yes we barely won…… it was actually a 2 point game when Memphis had to foul the 1st time…… so it was very close and every time we made a run 8-0 or 11-0 1 time to take a nice lead….Memphis would just keep coming back. We basically don’t D up as well as we used to and can’t count on the D to really get stops for us……If we were down 2 with a 1:30 to play we loose this game 7 out of 10 times……We really couldn’t score or get stops, our saving grace was that they were down 4 and had to go for a 3, which they don’t shoot well…….

    Other keys to this game

    Tony has his hands full with Conley, and CAN’T keep letting Conley out play him like this, TP is suppose to be an elite PG……. not looking like it at all

    Bonner plays 20min and gets off 3 shots……. Not good…. needs to shoot more if he wants to score and help the team – his defense is getting worse……

    POP has to stop playing his 3 guard lineup, We got lucky that Memphis couldn’t post our guards up as much as they wanted…….. they tried to like 5 or more times and couldn’t get the ball in there in time, we need to stop giving them those types of Advantages…..Because if they had just gotten the ball in there it would have been very bad for us, like the few times they did……

    Positives – Manu as you have heard, RJ is being very aggressive and attacking the basket, TD is looking very good, needs more shot attempts…..

  • Lvmainman

    Spurs still need to tweak the game plan.

    1). Do not let Tony Parker play the closer role when we’re up 7 with 50 seconds to go!! Parker missed a layup and missed the exact same jumper at the end of Game 1. Ginobili is our playmaker at the end of games, not Parker.

    2.) Hate to say it, but Duncan can’t score on Gasol in the post. Move Duncan off screens(like the 1st play of each half) or let Duncan play one on one at the FT line, ala Dirk. Accept the fact, Duncan can’t score on Gasol in the post effectively.

    3). When Randolph catches in the post and faces up, crowd him to make him put the ball on the floor and then come with the double team for the steal. Don’t let him reverse pivot and shoot uncontested face up jumpers!! He hasn’t missed any.

    That lineup to start the 4th qtr was smaller at every position!! Luckily, the Spurs made shots, because defensively they were getting toasted.

    Hopefully, the Spurs can steal one in Memphis but it will be tough.

  • Junierizzle

    Yes the Grizz kept coming back but a win is a win. Spurs needed it and they got it. Now onto Game 3. Despite the Bonner and Blair combo the SPURS played some good D out there. One of the reasons the Grizz kept coming back was because at times the SPURS get away from moving the basketball and come up with empty possessions. This typically happened every time Manu went to the bench. They need to feed TD or TP needs to take over when Manu sits.

    I gotta give RJ some props. He has played good in both games. Gotta keep that up.
    Running some plays for Neal wouldn’t hurt either. It looks like the playoffs aren’t phasing him. Gotta get him some more shots. Everybody in general has to shoot more. Like Sean Elliot said, they can’t wait until they are wide open to shoot. There were a bunch of times where they would pump fake and drive. Just shoot!
    Doing great on the boards. Gotta keep that up.

    The thing that troubles me the most is the play of TP. He was the leading scorer in Game 1 and had an okay Game 2. But I honestly thought he would dominate in this series. His jumper isn’t falling and is having trouble finishing at the rim. If Connelly gets his than so be it but TP should be hurting him 10x as much.
    TP has to step it up.

  • grego

    This game would be not as close if the Spurs made their free throws. Manu uncharacteristically missed a lot of free throws. If he made them like he regularly does, the game would have been a lot smoother.

  • Abby Loudermilk

    My assessment: Extremely stressful game to watch. Glad we found a way to win in the end and obviously this at least keeps us in the series. That being said, I really felt like Spurs needed to win Game 2 with a bit more pizazz and finality. I really wanted us to go to Memphis with a strong W under out belt to build our confidence and deflate the upstart Grizzlies. But the truth is that there was no point in the game where I felt comfortable with our level of play or with our likelihood to pull out a W. We had 18 turnovers and those included some very sloppy and unnecessary turnovers. It wasn’t like the Grizzlies were forcing the TO’s, we would just inexplicably throw the ball into nowhere land. Manu went 7-13 from the the line; obviously this is a result of the injury but it hurt because he was really the only guy getting to the line (Hill has 9 attempts from the line but this included 4 in the last minute and one tech). We did manage to hold out own in the post–actually outrebounding Memphis 48-47 and only being outscored in the paint 40-38. It was physical, dirty, and as aforementioned, very stressful to watch. Our offense just couldn’t seem to execute (43.8% FG). Fortunately for us, neither could theirs (39.8%). We managed to contain Memphis’ version of the twin powers (Randolph and Gasol). Randolph was playing his usual dirty game. The refs were really calling them on TD tonight in a game that they otherwise seemed to pretty much let the guys just bang it out. Despite the win, this game makes me nervous for the series,

  • TD BestEVER

    Number 2 should have been OBVIOUS…….. He’s Old…. Gasol has him by 2 inches and 30+lbs…… and is 8years younger…… How would you expect a man to score on him when, he can’t move him and has lost his ability to put it on the ground and go around people……. had 16points on 7-12 shooting…..he played fine…..just needs some more looks………..

  • grego

    Grizz have unique bigs. They are both big and bulky and athletic (Arthur). They are one of the worst matchups for Parker. We also have to remember that they have Arthur, who goes underrated. He altered a decent amount of shots even with Randolph in foul trouble. This is not a Parker series if his shots aren’t falling because the players will loosen up on him.

    Parker did utilize penetration though and it got him 7 assists. Spurs have a solid record when Tony has 7 or more assists. I think it’s less about Parker scoring 20+ and more about his penetration either getting a shot or a pass. Honestly, the pass is more valuable because it tends to net a 3pt shot directly from him or as the hockey assist.

    The one I remember well was the one where he hit the shooter in the corner without even really seeing him off the semi-break.

  • grego

    Duncan can score on Gasol, but he waits too long and allows the 2nd defender to swipe at him. It’s causing him to lose the ball or have to begin his move all over again, often having to rush because the shot clock is down to a few seconds.

    Duncan has to go faster like Elliot said. I think Duncan waits for double teams too much thinking pass first. It’s almost as bad as jumping in the air to pass rather than thinking shoot first.

    They lineup was smaller, but the rotations were quick. They also caused Memphis into some bad possessions. Grizz hit some tough end of shot clock shots at the end of the shot clock. Foul trouble helped influence some of the small ball.

  • grego

    I felt it was stressful, but felt confident about the Spurs. It looked like everyone was showing up and doing their part. Manu led the way and it made me feel like they were going to break through even if it was close.

    Hill didn’t score well in the 1st half, but he looked a little bit more confident/more fluid. RJ continues to play well. Dyess wasn’t in horrible foul trouble and looked smoother (although really turned it on in the 4th).

    Parker’s shot was falling down a little bit better. He still missed a lot, but he didn’t miss every easy shot.
    Honestly, if Manu makes some more of those free throws, the game is probably less stressful. And he probably will as he gets more used to that brace.

  • grego

    Manu played well, but not well compared to what his star level brings. If he was fully back/not rusty it wouldn’t be as close because he normally doesn’t shoot near 53.8% from the free throw line. He was the player of the game, but his offense was shakey, especially when running the P&R. It’ll get better and the offense will flow better even when he is in.

    Spurs don’t D as well, but it was pretty solid in this game. The problem was the turnovers that killed their rhythm. And Duncan has to find times to go into his moves quicker rather than waiting for the double teams/thinking pass first for a 3pt shot. It’ll help him avoid the 2nd defender and have time to find his better shot.

    Teams are playing the 3pt shooters tough. It’s not just Bonner who is not getting many shots. Grizz are one of the better defensive teams and they are doing a great job playing the Spurs perimeter players.

    TP is an elite PG, but the Grizz have some quality big men, not to mention Battier who’s tall/lanky and is a solid all around defender. He had 7 assists. To me, that’s the biggest measure of success as Spurs have less than 5 losses (and like 30 to 40 wins) this year when TP has 7 or more. Manu’s always going to get 3 to 4, so if Parker gets 7 or 8, that’s like 10 ast from your PG. Then Duncan will have a few. Then of course if Parker/Manu have aorund 11, there are like 3-5 more that come off of swinging the ball.

    Pop can play 3 guard lineups as long as his defense rotates well. They do a great job trapping with the tall/long guy (like Dyess helped in the 4th) or a Manu (pesky helper) or Hill (long guy). RJ is crashing the boards hard so it gives Pop an ability to play smaller.

  • grego

    Bonner/Blair played well on D. They had good help D and they crashed the boards hard. That’s what you have to do when you have less size.

    Honestly, the bad part of that duo was that Blair, gets blocked when he’s at the rim. The one time he passed out, he got a 3pt shot for Bonner that was open. A few plays later he had the same opp but got blocked instead of hitting the open 3pt shooter.

  • grego

    Grizz are more than ZBo/Gasol. Arthur is a solid big and he’s showing it. He’s been solid throughout the season series. Conley Jr as well. Battier is always tough and Allen has been solid. They have a good “team.” They are also one of the better defensive teams. In a sense, this is good because if you can beat this defense, then you can beat most of the other offenses that limit the 3pt shot like Chicago.


    Go Spurs Go!!

  • Daviskl

    Is Splitter going to get any action? He is a long body he could possibly get some boards a D the Grizz big men and avoid foul trouble gor the other spurs bigs

  • midwestfan

    I know its early but this would be the toughest road to the championship yet. Grity Memphis a rested OKC and a DAL/LA team in the Cfinals, the easts best.If we are able to pull this off what amazing feat it would be.

  • Hicksman

    But we found a way to win. That was what we wanted to see. Manule was awesome the edge he has is remarkable. Love the screen by Mcdeezy on Battier
    On to Memphis lets take game 3 and get HCA back
    GO SPURS GO!!!

  • Hobson13

    This victory wasn’t so terrible. Throughout the regular season we’ve been acused of being a run-and-gun, 3pt shooting, fast paced finese team. Now we are facing a team that plays ugly, slow, defensive games (like the vintage Spurs used to play) and we are holding our own and should be up 2-0 in the series. This series should help us prepare for the WCF and perhaps even the Finals. I didn’t watch the game, but it appears Pop has figured out how to corral Gasol and Randolph. This is the key to the series. I expect to see more ugly games to come, but we should win at least 1 game in Memphis.

  • BigJ

    Well done Andrew. Hey, I would like to hear the crew of 48 Minutes of Hell’s opinions on what areas the Spurs need to improve for game 3? This game reminded me of many I’ve seen over the years where the opposing team, after the game, talks about how they should have won because of their mistakes and not what the Spurs did to induce those miscues.

    On the plus side, we had five players in double figure scoring. We out rebounded Memphis and had more assists than them. We also executed well down the stretch. On the downside, we had more turn overs and our bench scorers (aside from George) were not as prominent. The team’s free throw shooting was once again less than stellar.

    I can’t help but wonder how much adjustment there was for Manu returning from his injury stint?

  • Melbourne Spur

    Only one comment asking for Splitter – thank you Lord….. people are finally getting it.

    If we didn’t win that game, we may still have won this series, but we wouldn’t have gone on to win the championship. The road would have been just too tough. In my mind we are still in the race now.

    Here’s to hoping we come back home looking to wrap the series up.

  • Titletown99030507d

    Bonner/Blair = 33 combined playing minutes and only 9 rebounds and 5 points from the two? We won because of Manu. If no Manu no win. I’ll take the win any day but that Coach is playing Russian roulette with these guys. Can’t depend solely on Manu to win the playoffs for us. If this continues it’s a long hard road for the championship. Stay tuned.

    This is just wonderful:

    Bonner: 20 minutes = 4 rebounds, 3 pts
    Blair: 13 minutes = 5 rebounds, 2 pts , And this is your rebounding god? Where are the points if he’s taking up time on the court?

    Like I said no Manu and we lose last night. Russian roulette , your turn to spin it TD=Best Ever

  • Xicano47

    Splitter will not get any action because that would involve Pop making an implicit admission that he has been mistaken up to then in not using him. Pop will not admit mistake, period. Dyce cannot guard Randolph. The difference last night was that he got help. Bonner is a complete waste of time on both ends of the floor against this team. Blair is useless too. He plays out of control. Obviously, the logical alternative is to use Tiago, but again, see above. Tony has been outplayed by Conley and that’s been a big part of their success. If that doesn’t change, we could be in trouble.

  • Titletown99030507d

    That’s why Blair shouldn’t be in there. You need size to score. Tired of beating this dead horse. Those under the rim shots are points for Splitter not to mention the ability to draw the foul for possible and ones. Gotta wait till next year to see this on a nightly basis I guess.

  • Chris

    No disrespect to TP – he should be our scorer early in the game, but our best guard combo to close games is Ginobili & Hill. When Hill can play off the ball, he’s really effective with Ginobili running the point. It’s our best defensive wing combo, too. I really hope Pop plays them down the stretch more as the series goes on.

  • Daniel

    Why is Splitter not playing? Matt Bonner is a horriable match up on the defense end and now he is not producing in the playoffs again on the offensive side either. What will it hurt to stick a 7 footer in to protect the rim and rebound?

  • Titletown99030507d

    I hope so he can’t do any worse than Blair or Bonner. It’s a sham he’s not playing. Bonner 3 points, Blair 2 points playing huge minutes. They are taking up time on the court and their rebounds are nothing to get excited about add the fact that Splitter can get more points and defend better and get just as many rebounds. Who’s going to argue that Splitter can’t do worse or for that matter better?

  • Bruno

    Because Bonner have great defensive skills!! On offense he make 1 basket each 14 minutes in this series!!!!

  • becauseheismanuginobili

    Stressful is right. I felt the Spurs looked tight for much of the game…like the pressure to win this game was affecting their execution. When they played loose and moved the ball the offense seemed to flow a lot better.

  • Manu Ginobili

    Exactly my feelings about it. Blair could play, but for the fact that he doesn’t have any freakin’ timing. He doesn’t know when to pass out and when to shoot (as evidenced by the 5 or 6 times he’s been blocked in 2 games) and he consistently fails to get in position for a rebound at the right time.

    He gave the Spurs next to nothing last night, but Pop still wouldn’t play Splitter. I don’t get it.

  • Len

    I agree Hobson. All things considered, the Spurs played some nice D out there. They doubled really well on Zach and put the clamps on Gasol. If Allen, Young, Conley & Mayo have to beat the Spurs with jumpers, I like the good guys chances. On offense, there was an inexcusable lapse in concentration in the 2nd qtr and the FT shooting was very poor. The Spurs still have quite a bit of room to improve (see Tony Parker). The Grizz are a handful but I think the Spurs get at least a game up there. Should be physical as hell. GSG

  • LPspursFan

    if, if, if…if my aunt had a different anatomy she’d be my uncle! You guys are as blind and stubborn as you accuse Pop of being. Blair gets 5 rebs and 2 assts in 13 mins and your griping? Granted, he only had 2 pts, but even that basket was a and-1 opp on a pass from Manu that pumped up the crowd and team. BTW, 5 in 13 is like 10 in 26 or 15 in 39…pretty solid rebounder – by definition!
    Conley has 13 pts and 4 assts and that is OUTPLAYING TP’s 12 and 7? Tony had only 2 TOs, added a steal and was +4…Conley: 5 TOs, no steals and 0 +/-
    And, oh yeah, Tiago must have played because Zebo and Gasol only combined for 23 pts…I thought they were able to just POUND us inside because of their size. What? Splitter didn’t play? Our bigs of Timmay, Dyess, Bonner and Blair held the Almighty Memphis Grizzly bigs to 7-of-23 shooting? IMO, our bigs have more than enough to play even with these guys.
    Last thing…you all act as if the Spurs blew people away during our championship years; NOT!!
    This team even then was notorious for letting teams hang around and then out-executing them in the last 2 minutes of games to get the victories.
    This team will do the same…keep pounding the rock, let the young challengers shoot their ammo early and pound their chests and then make the necessary plays to win games at the end. This is the NBA Playoffs and EVERY team is capable of scoring points and playing D.
    IMO, we’re just fine.

  • Lvmainman
  • Marc

    There’s something everyone failed to mention, Tim Duncan was fouled out…i cannot remember when this happened before.. he stopped Randolph and Gasol by himself, without any help, but finally he was fouled out..i don’t know how much spurs are willing to take that risk again when there’s a blond 7 footer warming the bench..i just hope in case SA wins this series they won’t be wear out and get swept by Oklahoma.. remember last year..

  • TD BestEVER

    Well I would like to jump in and say that Splitter WOULDN’T get as many rebounds as DJB……. Splitter has never been a great REBOUNDER not even in his Spain……So what makes you think he will be a great one here……Also the Defense on the Big’s was actually good yesterday…….Only negatives were DJB missing a few easy 1’s…….. and Bonner not taking more shots(he has to shoot more to offset his poor D)………

  • Bruno

    The refs were horrible

  • SAJKinBigD

    Fair point. Dunno why Splitter continues to ride pine. It’s frustrating. Hopefully Pop’ll start playing TS at least 5-10 mins in Memphis. I’d expect the slug-fest to continue in the next games, and add’l rest and a few extra fouls on someone else would help TD a lot.

  • Bankshot21

    They guard TP better than any other team. Duncan is getting what he wants. McDyess is not letting Z-Bo have an easy go of it. Manu’s D was more important than his O. 1st defensive possession he blocks Z-Bo. Watching TD crank it up to that playoff notch is such a joy to watch.

  • idahospur

    Splitter won’t play unless one of our bigs gets injured. Let’s just hope its not Duncan, Dice, or Blair.

  • Bruno


  • Daniel

    I am not debating Bonner’s defensive skills I am saying that he is a bad matchup because he is not big enough to play with the toughness needed to be effective against Memphis. Plus he has only taken 7 shots for the whole series. He has done nothing to deserve the minutes he has been getting for the series.

  • Lvmainman

    An interesting read. Gasol now a starter and Splitter a bench-warming-scrub.

  • Xicano47

    You must have watched a different season of Spurs ball than I did. Every time Tiago got playing time he did extremely well on a per minute basis. No way would he have put up the pathetic combined numbers of Bonner and Blair in 33 minutes. As for the D, that’s bullshit. The reason Gasol and Randoph didn’t get as much this time was because they were getting double teamed, which opened up their shooters like Young, Allen and others. That’s what kept them in the game.

  • Mark B

    The timing on Duncan fouling wasn’t too bad for the Spurs, he was probably going to be taken out of the game in the last minute and replaced with a better foul shooter anyway. That’s also why Splitter won’t get any time at the end of the game either, dude can’t hit free throws. But I don’t see why Tiago can’t get some minutes in the 2nd and 3rd quarters to get Tim some rest. Obviously, I’m not an NBA coach.

  • Mark B

    The timing on Duncan fouling wasn’t too bad for the Spurs, he was probably going to be taken out of the game in the last minute and replaced with a better foul shooter anyway. That’s also why Splitter won’t get any time at the end of the game either, dude can’t hit free throws. But I don’t see why Tiago can’t get some minutes in the 2nd and 3rd quarters to get Tim some rest. Obviously, I’m not an NBA coach.

  • Mark B

    The timing on Duncan fouling wasn’t too bad for the Spurs, he was probably going to be taken out of the game in the last minute and replaced with a better foul shooter anyway. That’s also why Splitter won’t get any time at the end of the game either, dude can’t hit free throws. But I don’t see why Tiago can’t get some minutes in the 2nd and 3rd quarters to get Tim some rest. Obviously, I’m not an NBA coach.

  • 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.