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San Antonio Spurs vs. Memphis Grizzlies, April 20 [2017)

Well, that was a tough one!

Back and forth and back and forth…and back and forth.

And then a steamroller!

But let us remember how the steamroller was built.

By snowball!

Sometimes a stumble prevents a fall.

But other times, a stumble is followed by another stumble…and another stumble…and…well, you get the picture.

And those stumbles add up.

Leave it to Spurs’ commentator Sean Elliott to hit the nail on the head.

Indeed, it certainly was as if San Antonio ate a big meal at halftime.

Which brought out the coaching genius of Gregg Popovich.

I would contend that genius is usually mixed about 50/50 with stupidity.

The defining characteristic, though, is BOLDNESS.

Coach Pop saw that his team was not ready to play in the second half.

And so he cracked down.

A bit of tough love.

No superstars spared the rod…

So to the bench went Kawhi Leonard, Tony Parker, and Danny Green.

It would have been an excellent move…had it worked.

But it didn’t work.

Yet, Popovich is always several steps ahead of the average bear.

I can imagine him thinking, “We don’t really deserve to win this game.”

And it was true.

Memphis played a great first half.

And an even better second half.

But at halftime, this was merely a four-point game.

I hate to say it, but Kawhi Leonard looked tired.

When he saw that Memphis full-court press.

The camera caught his facial expression…

“Oh no, not this again!”

And Kawhi opted to let a bad pass go out of bounds.

Or…

Oops.  Yeah, Tony Parker tried to field it.

And the game went downhill from there.

Maybe Kawhi really got whacked in the head by Marc Gasol in the first half?

These athletes…they don’t want to come out of the game.

The NFL is all over the concussion epidemic…with their vaunted “protocol”.

But what about the NBA?

Is there an independent doctor at each game?

To check out players who have been whacked in the head?

Kawhi’s a tough dude.

But if you get whacked hard enough…by a big water buffalo like Marc Gasol…

You’re gonna be a little disoriented.

And it can linger…

But let’s talk players…stats…strategy…causation.

Why did the Spurs lose?  Why did the Grizzlies win?

Was it all because of one muffed out-of-bounds play?

No.

LaMarcus Aldridge brought it tonight.

16 points and 11 rebounds in 30 minutes.

He played tough.  But his teammates didn’t play with the same aggression.

Kawhi Leonard, as stated, had a bit of a rough night.

Only 18 points.

In 30 minutes.

Yes, the two big stars for San Antonio each played 30 minutes.

And not the SAME 30 minutes.

Which again points to Gregg Popovich being a master planner.

Hey…the game plan might have sucked, but the retreat was elegant! 🙂

And there is a time and place to retreat.

Lose the battle, win the war.

Don’t flail about to make a statement.

Just accept defeat gracefully…and move on.

Sometimes you just have to swallow your pride…in order to reach your coveted victory.

Dewayne Dedmon also had a rough night.

It started with the early foul trouble.

This threw Popovich’s rotations off for the entire first half.

It meant that Pau Gasol had to come in early.

But we’ll get to PG momentarily.

Tony Parker was pretty bad.

I hate to say it.

It just wasn’t his night.

O points.  O assists.  0 for 4 from the field.

Yikes.

Danny Green had a pretty good first half.

Some nice floaters.  Attacking the basket.  Good athleticism.

But the 3s weren’t falling for Danny.  0 for 4 from beyond the arc.

David Lee’s biggest statistic was fouls.

Really, this was some disrespectful, crooked refereeing on the part of the officiating crew.

Lee picked up 5 fouls in 16 minutes.

Danny Green was also charged with several dubious infractions.

This had the smell of one of those games which the league (NBA bigwigs) had already determined would go to Memphis…unless the Spurs absolutely dominated.

And San Antonio couldn’t overcome the biased officiating.

Coach David Fizdale apparently got bubbly in some “rant” somewheres.

Which just goes to show that complaining works.  Unfortunately.

So Game 3 was one giant “make-up call”.

Which is not to say the Spurs deserved to win.  They didn’t.

One bright spot for the silver and black was our Latvian import Davis Bertans.

This guy got after it out there.

He even frustrated JaMychal Green (which isn’t saying much…considering Green is a goatee shy of being Kendrick Perkins).

[And considering that Green plays second fiddle {in reality} to the master complainer:  Zach Randolph.]

But still:  Bertans came to play.

I was glad to see him get quality minutes.

You know, he doesn’t look scared out there.

He just calmly does his job.

Great player!

Pau Gasol grabbed 8 boards for the Spurs.  But he was 2 of 9 from the field.

Yeah…

Lots of 0 for x and/or 2 for y.

The Spurs eventually leveled out at about 47% from the field…for the night.

But it was no thanks to the usual suspects.

Dejounte Murray had a very productive 7 minutes with 4 points and some great passing.

So that’s 2 players who came to play.

Bertans and Murray.

Five guys who care…that’s all Popovich needs! 🙂

Patty Mills played a decent game.  11 points.  But just 1 assist.  And 2 turnovers.  And 3 fouls.

When you’re short, and making shots, you gotta get more than 1 assist.

Then again, the starting point guard (Tony Parker), had 0 (zero) assists.

Dejounte Murray (the third-string point guard) had 1 assist in 7 minutes.

Parker played 19 minutes.  Mills 22 minutes.

That’s a lot of minutes with short guys not doing what short guys do.

But maybe we were saving the best for last (like Rick Fox’s Vanessa Williams)?

[briefly]

Yes, the Spur to really shine tonight was Kyle Anderson.

The slowest, lankiest, most awkward player in the NBA.

Who just happens to be a masterful passer (and a much-improved all-around player).

Kyle made one of those early bonehead plays.

Vince Carter got up in his grill.  In the backcourt.

And (oops!)…a completely humiliating turnover!

But Kyle stayed mentally tough.

Don’t freak out.

Just play your game.

Do what you do.

Mine your strengths.

Don’t overreach to “make up” for your flub.

Anderson had 15 points in 18 minutes.  Plus 3 assists.  And he was 6 of 7 from the field.

So we’re up to three guys who care.

Bertans, Murray, and Anderson.

And here comes #4.

Jonathon Simmons.

10 points and 3 assists in 16 minutes.  4 for 5 from the field.  And two big 3-pointers.

So we’re up to a full squad (if we throw in Aldridge).

Bertans (SF), Murray (PG), Anderson (PF), Simmons (SG), and Aldridge (C).

But what about Manu Ginobili?

What the fuck?

10 minutes?

He had 2 assists…

I think Manu was mainly a casualty of the first half foul debacle (which started with Dedmon) and the second-half collapse of the first unit.

Got that?

Meaning, it wasn’t worth it to Popovich to put the most reckless, death-wish-of-a-player into the game in what was essentially a long, drawn-out, slow-motion, garbage-time nightmare for San Antonio.

So what about Memphis?

Zach Randolph came to play.

He was trash in Game 1.

He was good in Game 2.

He was great in Game 3.

21 points and 8 rebounds in 29 minutes.  The old fella had a little extra gas in the tank for this effort.

And he destroyed the Spurs.  9 of 16 from the field (including 1 of 2 from 3-point-land).

But let’s show exactly why the Spurs got their butts kicked.

James Ennis III?!?  12 points.

Andrew Harrison?!?  6 assists.

Wayne Selden?!?  10 points.

I mean, these guys came to play!

And they brought their big dogs with them.

Marc Gasol had 21 points and 6 rebounds.

And he was 2 for 2 from beyond the arc.

Mike Conley was very solid.

[and bloody-well better be…because he’s the highest paid player in the NBA…last I checked]

Conley had 24 points and 8 assists.

The two point guards for Memphis (Conley and Harrison) were running offense.

And guys were making shots.

Memphis was ready to play.

San Antonio was not.

-PD

2 responses to “San Antonio Spurs vs. Memphis Grizzlies, April 20 [2017)

  1. great post Paul , your Humour is excellent Cannot beat your excellent turn of phrase or comment love all of it well done.
    Laurence xx

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