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Memphis Grizzlies vs. San Antonio Spurs, April 17 [2017)

Kawhi Leonard.

The last shot of the game.

And I don’t mean that rousing slam dunk.

I mean the last cinematic “shot” of the game.

Clock running down.

Game in the bag.

And Kawhi, exhausted, hunches over…hands on knees…grabbing his shorts, so to speak.

That is the trademark of Mr. Leonard.

Work.

In Game 1 of this opening round playoff series, Leonard had a new career high in points with 32.

But that wasn’t good enough.

Not for Kawhi.

And that’s why he’s the most dangerous player in the NBA.

He always wants to improve.

And history has shown, in these past few years, that he does.

Immensely!

So Kawhi went for 37 tonight.

ANOTHER career high!

But how did he get it???

Free throws.

For fucksakes!  19 for 19 at the line.

And in Game 1, he was 9 for 9 from the charity stripe.

28 free attempts, 28 makes.  Through two games.

But that exhaustion…that’s from work.

Work every play.

Defensively.

Push the ball.  Offensively.

Negotiate your way out of a double team.

Sure.

He’s not guarding a marquee small forward.

Or an explosive shooting guard.

And he isn’t the primary defender on the feisty Mike Conley.

That job has fallen to Danny Green (who’s done a pretty great job!).

But Kawhi is working out there.

And part of it was the Grizzlies’ comeback.

This game was ALMOST the opposite of Game 1.

To start the series, Memphis came out hot.

The Spurs had to claw back.  And then San Antonio ran away with the first contest.

But tonight, the Spurs were ready.

The only problem was they let Memphis back in the game.

And so it got real TENSE out there.

And hence Kawhi needing to play 40 minutes.

He played just 32 in Game 1.

But let’s talk about a few other players.

Speaking of minutes, LaMarcus Aldridge led all Spurs with 42.

That’s a hell of a workload for a guy who was sidelined with a heart arrhythmia not so long ago.

But LaMarcus wants this.  Bad!

Last year was not good enough.

The Spurs didn’t send Timmy Duncan out in style.

In Duncan’s final season, they failed to bring home the ship.

But for Aldridge, this is the quest for #1.

All those seasons in Portland.

Ain’t good enough.

And you can tell by the way this guy is working that he wants that ring and trophy.  Bad!

Tony Parker had another nice game.

Especially from beyond the arc.

Three 3-pointers for the Frenchman!

But even better was Danny Green.

He finally had a good shooting night.

I must admit…I didn’t keep up with the team through the season…owing to my own health problems and other mitigating circumstances.

But Green just hasn’t seemed “on” for a long time.

Not so tonight.

He was letting it fly.  With no hesitation.

And the results were excellent!

David Lee gave the Spurs 14 gritty minutes of fight.

Indeed, the Grizzlies were visibly frustrated in this contest.

Lee has the postseason experience to know exactly how to destabilize opponents.

And he did just that!

Pau Gasol made a couple of big shots.

His three-point stroke looked very fluid and relaxed.

Almost reminded me of Robert Horry 🙂

For the Grizzlies, Mike Conley was very good.

He has improved so much over the years.

It is great to see him healthy.

And Vince Carter is still an awesome nuisance at age 40 (which just happens to be my age as well).

“Air Canada” is a true professional.

And I really admire his play out there!

But the big story for Memphis was the return to form of Zach Randolph.

When this guy is on, he is a nightmare for opposing teams.

Z-Bo had 18 points and 11 rebounds, but it wasn’t enough.

Marc Gasol had a rough shooting night.

And without Chandler Parsons and Tony Allen, this is an uphill battle for the Grizzlies.

And so the Spurs pulled it out…behind 37 points and 11 rebounds from Kawhi Leonard.

Again, it wasn’t a flashy performance.

But steady.

But beautiful!

-PD

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