Memphis Grizzlies 101, San Antonio Spurs 98: There have been three turnovers since you started reading this headline


The San Antonio Spurs went in the Friday night’s game against the Memphis Grizzlies on a two-game slide. No record-wise, mind you, the Spurs won their last game against the Los Angeles Lakers, but a two-game slide in which you would be hard-pressed to convince someone that the team got better.

In the end, the Spurs fell to the Grizzlies in overtime 101-98, and you’d have to build a strong case to say the Spurs got better after this one as well. The Spurs got down by as many as 12 points in the second half, but forced overtime on a buzzer-beating 3 from Tony Parker.

In overtime, the Spurs shot 1-0f-10 from the field, the team’s only basket coming a Parker 3 on the third possession of OT, and were outscored 6-3.

That wasn’t the disturbing part of the game, though. What’s concerning is that this team continues to give up the ball. The Spurs committed 18 turnovers against the Grizzlies, making that a cool 56 in the last three games combined. Tim Duncan, obviously a big man without a whole lot of ball handling duties, had six against Memphis and racked up 14 in the last three contests.

While the Spurs have had a decent output offensively over those three games — other than maybe Monday night against New Orleans — the turnovers sabotaged the rest of the Spurs’ gameplan. We’ve seen the Spurs have high-turnover games before. It happens from time-to-time with their offense. Everything has to be in-sync, but if it isn’t, there’s a chance that the Spurs can go through these performances where they give the ball up.

Big, physical teams like the Grizzlies are able to get the Spurs out of their rhythm with regularity and that, in turn, can lead to high-turnover games.

The Grizzlies are so big and strong that they can knock opponents off balance without having to foul. When you’re a team like the Spurs, that relies so much on timing, rhythm and shooting — a finesse team if you want to get derogatory — balance is a pretty important thing.

Think, for instance, of simply pushing someone. If you’re not strong enough, you have to fully extend your arms to push someone off balance. In a basketball game, that’s an easy foul to call. But if you can get the same amount of force with less effort overall, you can get away with far more.

That’s what the Grizzlies are able to do and the ability extends to boxing out, fighting for post position, and pressuring shooters. NBA referees oftentimes make calls based on how an offensive player reacts to contact, but also make calls based on how much defenders extend themselves.

The Grizzlies don’t extend themselves much, and that enables them to be an incredibly physical team. The only way they’re starting frontcourt could be more¬†physically¬†imposing is if LeBron James started at small forward for them instead of Rudy Gay.

Because of all this, they matchup well with the Spurs. San Antonio can still, and have, overcome the Grizzlies. But it remains a difficult matchup for the Spurs. Friday night’s game against Memphis just highlighted some of the problems the Spurs are temporarily facing and those which will always be a problem.

Stats courtesy of

  • Andres

    here are some of my random thoughts about the game:
    1. The spurs played a great game, take away a couple of the turnovers and they win the game.
    2.Tiago played excellent, amazing defense against Zack. That being said, he can’t keep missing lay ups, too often he looks for the foul instead of trying to dunk it. If he improves that, he is really going to help out in the playoffs.
    3. As great as Tony Parker is, he keeps getting beat of the dribble by the opposing point guard. He has to improve his defense a lot. I bet you, Pop is going to put Green on Conley and TP on Tony Allen if they meet in the playoffs, that would be a great move and could win the series.
    4. It’s time to face it, Neal is a disaster as a point guard, he is very likely to dribble the ball of his foot at any time. Pop has to understand it does not work at all. I hate to say this, but Neal might be the next Bonner in the sense you fall in love with him because he can make shots but teams can take that away in the playoffs. He has to play shooting guard, in that position he is effective, if there are no minutes available at that position, so be it.
    5. Danny Green and Kawhi are in danger of becoming real one dimensional. It’s a shame. Specially for Kawhi. It’s disgusting to watch him fake a three and them try for a tough long two. He has the ability to drive hard and finish at the rim. The Spurs really need him to do that. I don’t think he should be trying to specialize as a three point shooter in this stage of his career. He could do a lot of harm driving strong to the basket.

  • junierizzle

    We’d be pretty scary if we didnt hand the ball to the other team in stride. They are completely cancelling out the great freethrow shooting. The good news is a lot of them are correctable. Most TOs are either lazy passes, ill-advised pass or an extra pass to an unexpecting teammate.

    Also, I’ve said this before but can we please for the love of God stop giving Arthur that shot. I was actually hoping they would leave Gasol out there.

  • Andres

    I completely agree with Arthur. The top of the key jumper is very high percentage. The same happened with Serge Ibaka when he hit 5 or 6 of those. Spurs gotta contest that.

  • Andrew G

    I have NEVER seen a goaltending call reviewed. My jaw dropped when I saw them stop play to go review their call with less than a minute left in overtime. They overturn it, take away two of our points, and jump ball which eventually gives Memphis possession. Nevermind that it was the right call, I have NEVER seen a goaltending call get reviewed. Am I just ignorant to basketball rules? I have seen so many goaltending calls (or lack thereof) not get reviewed, it absolutely floored me when I saw them stop play for this one.

  • Andrew A. McNeill

    If I remember right, that was a new rule change for this season or last.

  • jaydog7

    Totally agree with the Kawhi assessment, with Manu getting older, and the bulk of the responsibility of attacking the defense placed mostly on Parker, the Spurs need more of
    that coming from that wing position. With his length and athleticism, I would definitely like
    to see Kawhi get to the free throw line more often.

  • junierizzle

    I agree about Leonard, but he is still young and he doesnt have a green light to do anything. Right now Pop just wants him to play within the system and is being held back a bit. But he has shown flashes that he can create his own shot.

  • Bob

    It should help the Spurs against the Thunder. Ibaka got away with alot of questionable blocks in the WCF.

  • Colin

    Spurs won’t beat the the grizzlies in 7 game series without a roster change if Tim Duncan doesn’t aberage 20/10 at least. Turnovers, physicality, Gay, Lebron, Grizzlies extending defense won’t matter in a 7 game series unless he does this. With that said, I think it’s safe to assume the acquisition of Bayne and the imminent trade of Blair for a big is intended to remedy this. We have a fighter’s chance against any team in the league without these changes but definitely top 2-3 with them.

  • Graham

    Not a fair assessment. We most definitely could have won that game with just a bit more crisp ball possession. We’re in pretty good shape IMO and just need to focus on finding last season’s cohesion.

  • Colin

    It is a fair assessment, most things in life arent fair, such as the officiating in last season wcf. Yes, we could have won that regular season game without the turnovers or the scramble to tie just to get to OT. However, I was speaking of a 7 game series. We can’t win 4/7 against the grizzlies, okc, or lac for that matter simply by relying on crispness and better ball possession. We need some physicality and toughness by a big other than a sf such as jax as well as Duncan to be avg 20/10 and even he will be dragging ass when June comes around. Btw, Memphis lost to dal tonight……….

  • Titletown99030507d

    Wonder if Dallas had a ton of To’s? We are a better team this season. Pop needs to make the adjustments to cut down on TO’s (neal) and Manu as good as he’s coming around is turning over the ball too much at crucial times. And Splitter just needs to make a couple of those misses. He still good on his FG% and free throws
    Thats not what’s loosing these games.
    Its pretty much TO’s, ball handling, bad passes, and not running offense when they’re supposed. Seems like they freak if they start missing 3’s. Just those fixes and the addition of Baynes and we are as good as anybody or better
    Error free games or close to it will win games.

  • Titletown99030507d

    Why didnt they reviewed Durants goal tending when we played them?

  • Titletown99030507d

    Yes, and make Splitter or Timmy get up and press him and if he gets past either one of them then somebody needs to be ready to take a charge
    Maybe he’ll pass it off to someone else to shoot and the defense can recover enough to force either a shot clock violation or a hurried shot. Yeah Im tired of seeing that shot turning into an automatic 2 points repeativly.

  • Graham

    Exactly. Pop’s 3 man big rotation seems to be doing well, and our only sizable flaw right now is copious turnovers. We chop those down and we’ll be in spectacular shape.

    No lineup adjustments, no trades, just tweak a few things and get more reps in with the offense and tighten up the precision. Maybe start Mills a bit to see if he can show hw is ready to be the backup ballhandler. (I suspect his only limiter is not completely having a handle on the offense) but other than that just stay the course and search for consistency.

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  • Colin

    Good response, I agree with most of your sentiment. Memphis, OKC, and (less likely) LAC know exactly what our weaknesses are and will force these turnovers by playing physical and taking away our people movement on offense. This type of game (ie: friday’s memphis game) will be a common theme in a 7 game series if we don’t get that extra physical big and/or TD doesn’t average 20/10. We need to be able to play so well that we win the game in spite of turning the ball over.

  • Colin

    “No lineup adjustments, no trades, just tweak a few things and get more reps in with the offense and tighten up the precision”

    Graham, that’s a good recipe to get the #1 seed for the playoffs to cap a well-played regular season but this recipe will not get us to the Finals. Phoenix tried this with their group in the mid-2000’s and it did not work in a 7 game series. Oh wait, it happened to us the past 2 seasons! Teams got physical and had ways to take away one or two cuts that they depended on throughout the regular season which made them/us an alleged juggernaut.

    What happens when the game slows down (which it eventually will)? OKC and Memphis have go to guys on the perimeter and post who score with bread and butter post moves when the game counts. Who do we have? I don’t see us beating these two teams in 4/7 close games with the roster(s) as they are right now. I don’t know about you but I give the advantage to Gasol/Randolph/Arthur and Durant/Westbrook/Ibaka in that 6th/7th game at this point. We need that extra big guy like a Perkins, Arthur, Collison, or Gasol to dominate the intangibles in time for our “big 3” to do their thing. Diaw, Blair, Bonner, etc have proven that they can’t provide it when it counts in those big games.

    We need more than Splitter/Duncan in the paint! Therefore, I anticipate and welcome a trade for a big who can help us THIS YEAR.

    “Maybe start Mills a bit to see if he can show hw is ready to be the backup ballhandler.”

    Seriously, he’s not ready for more than what Pop’s thrown at him. His coach in Australia is extremely familiar with the Spurs system as he is an assistant coach for the Spurs. If Mills were ready to be the backup ball-handler he already would be. Hopefully in the next couple years he can evolve but much like the Mahinmi experiment of yesteryear I’m skeptical………..

  • Colin

    “Wonder if Dallas had a ton of To’s?”

    The more likely answer is that Memphis didn’t give a shit because they beat the Spurs the night before.

  • Sir Timothy

    Colin –

    You need a time out. Try meditation. Seriously. Are you cursing on this forum now?

  • Colin


    Care to comment on my assessment? One swear word to emphasize a point is hardly cause for moderation on your part.

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