The San Antonio Spurs competed for much of the evening but ended up losing to the Memphis Grizzlies on Tuesday night by a final score of 106-98. The Spurs dropped to 5-28, while the Grizzlies improved to 11-22.
San Antonio kept things close for much of the first half by riding a surprisingly effective defense. Unfortunately, Memphis got going near the end of the second quarter and led 47-40 at halftime.
In the second half, the Spurs opened strong and took the lead within three minutes. Sadly, the Grizzlies proceeded to go on a 7-0 run to grab command of the game. By the end of the third quarter, Memphis had a double-digit lead.
The Spurs kept scratching and clawing in the fourth quarter to keep the score respectable but the Grizzlies were never truly challenged. All in all, the good guys can be proud of the effort for the most part — in case that is worth anything.
Stats: Spurs vs. Grizzlies
Spurs vs. Grizzlies – Final Grades
Wembanyama authored a number of highlight-worthy plays on his way to 20 points, seven rebounds and four blocks in 26 minutes. He finished with authority at the rim and mixed in open jumpers to keep the defense honest. Wembanyama could have rebounded a bit better and his rim protection was lacking in the second half … but it’d be unwise to get too picky about his production, especially when he had one turnover and no fouls. The rookie played well enough for San Antonio to have success.
The coaching staff has moved Keldon Johnson to the bench to make sure that Vassell has an opportunity to shine in the starting lineup. That didn’t happen on Tuesday night. Vassell was ultra passive for a majority of the game, which heavily damaged the Spurs chances of winning. There were stretches where Vassell had the appropriate amount of energy — but, on the whole, it was an unsatisfactory performance due his passiveness.
Sochan was a little bit better in most areas. His defense was improved, as he protected the rim better and his concentration and reaction speed were improved out on the perimeter. That said, Sochan’s rebounding was poor and his closeouts could have been better. Offensively, there was still a lot of herky-jerky play but he kept his mistakes in check, knocked down a few perimeter jumpers and did an okay job of attacking the rim.
Branham wasn’t shy when escaping the starting gates. Unfortunately, his evening ended prematurely when he twisted his ankle while playing defense on Ja Morant. Before he made the locker room his home, Branham had five field goal attempts in seven minutes — but only connected on one of the shots.
Champagnie is in the starting lineup to spread the court for his teammates by hitting three-pointers. In 22 minutes, he was 3-for-6 from deep. He got fouled on another three-pointer and hit all three of the free throws. Add in decent defense, a couple smart passes and some hard work on the boards and it was an above average night for Champagnie. He could have played even more minutes but he found himself in foul trouble for part of the game.
Johnson’s job right now is to bring scoring off the bench. He did decent in that regard on Tuesday night. He finished the game with 19 points, six rebounds and four assists in 31 minutes. Truth be told, though, his efficiency wasn’t the prettiest. He took 16 shots, turned it over three times and committed four fouls. Smarter play and picking his spots better would have helped his team. As it was, Johnson could too often be found out of control — on both ends of the court, really.
Jones’ inability to hit three-pointers is as much of a problem right now as it has ever been. Teams are daring him to shoot threes and he’s now 0-for-11 from downtown over his last five games. To make matters worse, he hit only one two-pointer against the Grizzlies. Jones had some really good passes but his overall impact wasn’t what it could have been due to ineffectual defense and the aforementioned inability to hit wide open perimeter shots.
Wesley was the bright spot against Memphis. I wouldn’t classify this as a coming-out party but there were definitely some fiesta-like vibes. He did a really good job of utilizing his open court speed to his advantage. There aren’t too many humans who can stay in front of him so Wesley needs to attack the rim when he’s on the court. His passing wasn’t as good as we’ve seen it but I liked his electricity on defense. Wesley is still trying to find the balance between distributing and attacking — but it felt like he took a step closer to the answer on Tuesday night.
McDermott’s line stayed clean outside of his 1-for-4 showing from three-point territory. And that’s not good news. As well as McDermott can shoot a basketball, he needs to do more than he did versus Memphis. His movement wasn’t as hyper and his defense was worse than usual.
Honestly, Barlow has been bad during his NBA minutes this season. Against the Grizzlies, he was mediocre — but, comparatively, he was much better. He looked more athletic and did a better job of rebounding, protecting the rim and moving his feet. His offense is a work in progress so I didn’t have an issue with any of his shot attempts; those are shots Barlow can hit. Fouls were an issue for him but I liked his aggression. Barlow needs to get a lot better and this was a step in the right direction.
For someone who didn’t score, Osman sure had a loud 12 minutes. He was really strong on the boards, made some heady passes and ran the court well. Osman also had a couple mistakes that were impossible to miss.
Mamukelashvili had a three-pointer and a block in his two minutes.
It’ll be difficult to beat a halfway good team with Wembanyama on a minutes restriction. It also didn’t help that Branham went down injured and that Zach Collins is sidelined with an ankle injury. Rotation-wise, I would have liked to have seen more minutes for Wesley but otherwise it was okay. Playcalling-wise, a few plays for McDermott were too predictable but the rest of the calls were fine.