The San Antonio Spurs got up by 19 points on the Memphis Grizzlies before — stop me if you’ve read this before — blowing the lead and fizzling out in the fourth quarter. The Spurs ended up losing by a final score of 120-108 to drop their record on the season to 3-10.
Coming out of the gates, the good guys looked desperate to put an end to their seven-game losing streak. Their defense was stout and the offense was humming. Defensive rotations were quick on one end and the passing was excellent on the other end. At halftime, the Spurs looked to be in great shape and held a 68-51 lead.
The second half was a completely different story, unfortunately. The Grizzlies played with an edge from the very first possession of the third quarter and the Spurs simply weren’t able to match their level of competitiveness. Memphis slowly but surely chipped away at San Antonio’s advantage but as the half progressed it became painfully evident that the Spurs weren’t going to be able to hold on.
In the fourth quarter, Zach Collins hit a three-pointer to give the Silver and Black a six-point lead. Sadly, the Grizzlies responded with an 18-0 run to extinguish any hope of San Antonio snapping their losing skid.
Overall, this was a tough loss. Memphis has been decimated by injuries so Devin Vassell’s absence isn’t a sufficient excuse. Eventually, these young Spurs will learn how to play more than half a game and how to hold onto leads. Right now, it’s painful to watch the predictable collapse night in and night out.
Stats: Spurs vs. Grizzlies
Spurs vs. Grizzlies – Final Grades
Like every teenage basketball player, Wembanyama is experiencing ups and downs. The good: His rim protection was every bit as great as his eight blocks shots suggest. He also rebounded really well and was fine defensively out on the perimeter. Offensively, Wembanyama limited his mistakes, passed the ball well and finished the first half with 13 points on only six shot attempts. The bad: San Antonio’s offense fell apart in the second half and Wembanyama scoring six points on 11 field goal attempts was part of the reason why. He also had all five of his fouls in the second half. Wembanyama’s shot-selection is still very much a work in progress. He can get easier shots than he’s getting right now.
Scoring-wise, Johnson was good. He was 4-for-7 from both two-point range and three-point range on his way to scoring a team-high 22 points. Johnson also deserves credit for not turning the ball over despite the Grizzlies playing an aggressive brand of defense. That said, the rest of his outing was nondescript. Johnson’s playmaking was minimal, his defense was forgettable and he didn’t do much on the boards.
Unfortunately, the most memorable moments for Sochan on this night were the three times he got stripped at halfcourt by three different Grizzlies players. To say his ball-handling ability was inconsistent would be an understatement. That’s unfortunate because he actually did a lot of good against Memphis. He scored an efficient 16 points by hitting a three-pointer and getting to the line six times. Sochan also defended pretty well, especially in the first half. I thought his passing and decision-making were okay in halfcourt sets. But, yeah, Sochan hasn’t been able to put together a complete game in a while.
After an exquisite outing against the Kings, Collins came back down to earth a bit versus the Grizzlies. He deserves credit for giving San Antonio an inside presence and a go-to player when times got tough. He got to the free throw line eight times and his passing was very good. That said, he was feeble on the defensive glass, his rim protection was mostly invisible and he ended up fouling out in 26 minutes. He also added a needless technical foul in the fourth quarter that only made life harder for the Spurs.
Slowly but surely, Champagnie is looking more comfortable. He still exudes nervous energy when he’s on the court and he is rushing some of his three-pointers — but he’s beginning to come around. I thought his defense was better and he helped with the ball-handling duties tonight.
Osman was awesome in the first half. He scored a loud ten points and was flying around the court on both ends. His play in the second half wasn’t nearly as impactful but he was still playing hard and with a notable amount of aggression. Unfortunately, poor decision-making made Osman a liability in the fourth quarter.
In his return from injury, Jones mostly struggled. Offensively, his running of the show wasn’t as crisp as usual. Too often, his passes were late or off target. I also thought he forced things unnecessarily. Defensively, he efforted but his impact was minimal.
Branham didn’t do a whole lot right. He’s now 0-for-10 from three-point range in the last three games. His defense wasn’t good and confidence appeared to be an issue. To Branham’s credit, he was 2-for-3 on two-pointers and his passing was a little bit better than normal.
McDermott had another standard McDermott-esque outing. He hit a three-pointer, created spacing with his movement and passed it pretty well. Even though he picked up three early fouls, his defense wasn’t as much of a liability as usual.
As we’ve come to expect, Mamukelashvili was electric during his 11 minutes on the court. He was in perpetual motion on both ends of the court. His activity on both ends gave the Spurs some much-needed enthusiasm. Regrettably, Mamukelashvili failed to finish off possessions a handful of times so his overall impact wasn’t as positive as it could have been.
With other bigs getting meaningful minutes (most notably Mamukelashvili), Bassey’s minutes are beginning to dry up.
Pop gave Barlow his first real minutes of the season. Why? I’m not sure — but he played three genuine NBA minutes tonight.
Pop going with a 12 man rotation when the Spurs really needed a win was highly questionable. That wasn’t the type of rotation a coach uses when he’s really going all out for a victory. When San Antonio was melting down in the second half, I didn’t see any notable adjustments by Pop. It was pretty bizarre, truthfully.