Nov 22, 2013; Memphis, TN, USA; Memphis Grizzlies power forward Zach Randolph (50) posts up against San Antonio Spurs center Tiago Splitter (22) during the first quarter at FedExForum. Mandatory Credit: Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

San Antonio Spurs Rebound To Ground Memphis Grizzlies


The San Antonio Spurs won their eighth straight game over the Memphis Grizzlies on Sunday to avoid their first losing streak since Jan. 26-29.

San Antonio lost 113-101, 97-90 and 96-86 at the Miami Heat, at the Houston Rockets and to the Chicago Bulls then. The Spurs rebounded from a mini-slide by beating their next three opponents before losing two of three.

Prior to falling 106-94 at the Oklahoma City Thunder on Thursday San Antonio had not been defeated since Feb. 21 at the Phoenix Suns 106-85. The Spurs followed up a 16-0 March and 19 straight victories by splitting their last two contests.

San Antonio and Memphis Meet for 1st Time Since Jan. 7

Despite playing for the ninth time since last April the Spurs (NBA-best 33-9 since Jan. 8) and Grizzlies (third-best 31-12 since Jan. 8) had not taken the court together in quite some time. Their last battle before Sunday’s showdown came Jan. 7 with San Antonio outlasting Memphis 110-108 during overtime.

The Spurs improved to 5-0 in contests decided by three points or less this year (7-0 for the season) and won 125-118 at the Washington Wizards on Feb. 5 during their only other OT game this year.

As for the Jan. 7 matchup San Antonio outplayed the Grizzlies immensely yet couldn’t knock Memphis out until the bitter end with a Manu Ginobili (sat out the OKC contest on Thursday) layup in the final seconds. Courtney Lee‘s 3-pointer with 1:27 to go gave the Grizzlies their second lead of OT and last advantage of the night over the Spurs. Prior to OT Memphis had not once even sniffed a lead.

San Antonio however didn’t establish much distance until a Marco Belinelli 3 midway through the second period. The Spurs elevated their advantage to 91-75 on Jeff Ayres‘ hoop. Just when you thought the Grizzlies would raise the white flag, Memphis began throwing left and right jabs as part of a 7-0 spurt.

Belinelli’s triple with 1:59 remaining during regulation appeared to be the knock-out blow the Grizzlies could not absorb. Marco upped San Antonio’s cushion back to double figures at 12. Mike Conley, who finished with 30 points, six rebounds, five assists and three steals, though, wouldn’t let the Grizzlies fold tying the game at the horn to prolong matters.

Memphis’ Playoff Hopes Take Hit At Spurs

San Antonio responded well to having their long winning streak snapped by sweeping the Grizzlies with a 112-92 victory for their 14th win in a row at the AT&T Center. The Spurs, who played for the fifth time during seven days on Thursday, threw the basketball away 18 times, the same number as their assists, at the Thunder and had just a dozen trips to the charity stripe, 11 less than Oklahoma City.

How home court and a couple days to rest can change things! Although San Antonio finished Sunday with only one more free throw attempt than Memphis, the Spurs converted six more FTs (17-11) and just bricked one. San Antonio, who also had one more turnover, 15-14, also made five more shots fall than the Grizzlies and go figure five more assists. Memphis grabbed seven more offensive rebounds, 13-6, than the Spurs to hang tough despite only knocking down one field goal the final four minutes of the first quarter.

The Grizzlies dropped four of their last five away contests with the latest setback. Memphis has given up 49.3 percent shooting or better during all of those defeats including allowing San Antonio to make 43-77 field goals (55.8 percent). The Spurs broke things open with a 26-10 first period and never let the visitors creep within a half-dozen the rest of the way.

Patty Mills, who led San Antonio with 21 points against the Thunder, was held in check scoring just seven, but Ginobili exploded for a team-high 26 points, the same total as Kawhi Leonard. The newest Spur, Damion James (signed a 10-day contract on April 3), did not play. However, San Antonio did get Matt Bonner back for the first time during nine contests.

Grizzlies Welcome Rematch with Spurs in Postseason

Not many No. 8 seeds ask for and then go on to take out the No. 1 seed during the NBA playoffs. The Western Conference, as it often does, reminded us all that there are “no sure things” any given year. In 2011 Memphis began the postseason with the motto “Let’s Make History” and that’s exactly what they did versus San Antonio.

The Grizzlies (have lost 22 of their last 24 trips to the Spurs as well as nine straight at AT&T Center) had been swept the first three times they made the playoffs. However Memphis won Game 1 on the road and despite being unable to finish off San Antonio, who got revenge during the 2013 Western Conference Finals, in the Alamo City during Game 5 wrapped up the series in six 99-91. Zach Randolph posted 31 points and 11 rebounds.

If the Grizzlies (have dumped 14 of 16 meetings with the Spurs) are going to repeat history from happening again they’ll need to first make this year’s postseason. No easy task for Memphis with Miami up next. Then Phoenix (the Grizzlies own the tiebreak over the Suns) and the Dallas Mavericks, two teams battling for the playoffs, wrap up 2013-14. At the end of the road for the 8th seed in all likelihood is San Antonio which hopes to leave 2011 as part of the past no matter who they get to play.



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