Memphis at San Antonio: Grizzlies Did Not Layeth the Smacketh Down

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The Memphis Grizzlies did not layeth the smacketh down on Thursday night. Instead they fell to the San Antonio Spurs. While Memphis worked hard and mustered a comeback it was simply not enough to stop the Spurs from walking away with the win. The Spurs were defensively ready for anything and everything Memphis could throw at them.

Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge scored 19 and 23, respectively. There were a total of four Spurs to finish the night in double digits. Only Marc Gasol and Mike Conley scored in double digits for the Grizzlies. They scored 13 and 22.

The playoffs are looming and Thursday night’s game could easily be a first round series preview. With that in mind the game truly did not go the Grizzlies’ way.

The Good. Thursday night’s game wasn’t all bad. When you shoot a 5% below the opponent, turn the ball over 14 times, and get a single digit loss you did a little something right. San Antonio was going to come out and play hard. Memphis was up on the season series 2-0 and the last time San Antonio lost a season series was in 2004-2005. While the Grizzlies still have to settle for another loss they did play with some heart. Despite being down by 15 points in the second quarter Memphis worked their way back to a tie in the fourth. However, their will to win just could not hold up their defensive struggles of the night. Hey, they did try though, and for the purpose of this recap we can say that it counts.

The Bad. When Memphis struggles on defense, they struggle on offense. Memphis led in fast break points, points in the paint, and second chance points, outscoring San Antonio 63-36 combined. By the numbers this game was a lot tighter than it seemed, especially in the second half. Unfortunately, the Grizzlies laid a gigantic defensive and offensive egg in the first half. San Antonio had their way with the bucket. They shot 50% in the first half and finished the night at 48.1%. Memphis on the other hand finished the first half a whopping 38.5%. Beyond shooting Memphis did not aggressively toy with San Antonio the way they have for wins in the past. Instead of forcing turnovers and frustrating players, San Antonio was able to walk away from the game with their lowest number of turnovers this season. That is a much different tune than the 16 and 15 Spurs’ turnovers in the previous two games. It’s just plain obvious the Grizzlies did not have their defensive minds in the right place.

The Ugly. The Core Four. Bear with me here because this is about to get a little more of an op-ed than a recap but I simply cannot help myself. The performance and energy from the Core Four on Thursday was incredibly disappointing. The inconsistency with the Core Four is problematic. At first it was easy to blame the chemistry issues with Chandler Parson. Now it seems that Andrew Harrison’s existence on the court if the reason the chemistry is off. Ultimately, these are simply excuses to avoid discussing the fact that the guys who are All-Stars in our hearts continue to dodge taking leadership roles and finding ways to elevate their team to the win.

Thursday night Mike Conley, Marc Gasol, Zach Randolph, and Tony Allen shot 33.3% in the first half of the game. They finished the night at 38.8%. Zach Randolph was always the leader that took the team on his back and carried them, but he simply isn’t in the same role to be that impact leader anymore. Which means that leadership role must fall to someone else. Its crunch time and it simply rubs me the wrong way that the best players on our team still lack the ability to consistently take over a game. Sure, they can score but they do not have the same leading impact Randolph did. Of course, my opinions on this are based solely in what I see watching from my couch in Houston. Unfortunately, from my viewpoint Mike Conley and Marc Gasol do not appear to have the level of engagement I inherently expect from the highest paid players on the team. So, I genuinely hope they step back up. It would be ideal for fans to tune in and watch “Wendingo” and “Captain Clutch” leave everything on the court. There are only ten more games before the playoffs and seeding in the West is at stake. If there ever was a time to be a leader for this team, it is now. I for one could also handle a few more Billionaire struts.

Next up for Memphis is the Golden State Warriors on the second half of this four game road trip. Let’s hope Memphis get’s back into their groove. Now is not the time for another five game losing streak.

**As always, shout out to NBA.com and ESPN.com for stats**

Tabitha Smith

Tabitha Smith

Tabitha was a Memphis transplant who fell in love with the Grizzlies when she moved to the 901. She now resides in Houston where she frequently finds herself in debates with Rockets fans.
Tabitha Smith

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