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article imageNBA: Grizzlies pummel spiritless Spurs, 109-93

By Lynn Herrmann     Mar 2, 2011 in Sports
Memphis - Coming off a big win in San Antonio against the Memphis Grizzlies on Sunday, the Spurs traveled to Memphis for a Tuesday night rematch without point guard Tony Parker, and were handed a rude awakening in the form of a 109-93 blowout loss.
The race in the Western Conference has a new look on Wednesday morning as the Spurs gave their conference opponents a playoff positioning gift, a loss that could have huge ramifications coming down the stretch. No doubt licking their wounds as upcoming foes are licking their chops, the Spurs will face much of that stretch run without star point guard Parker, out two to four weeks with a strained calf muscle suffered in the first half of Sunday night’s win. The loss to Memphis on Tuesday shows how valuable he is to the team.
Until Sunday, the Spurs had been blessed throughout the season with all of the team’s key players enjoying injury-free basketball. Tiago Splitter had been out for several weeks with a hamstring injury and was reactivated for Tuesday night’s game with the Grizzlies. He also missed part of the preseason and as a result did not get a chance to prove he belonged in the Spurs regular season rotation. It didn’t seem like much last October, but Tiago’s injury then might soon be a haunting factor if the team is unable to find a new rhythm without Parker.
Manu Ginobili’s beautiful lob to DeJuan Blair started the game’s scoring, but Memphis quickly rattled off four straight points and Spurs coach Gregg Popovich called an even quicker 20-second time out to settle the team. It would soon prove itself as a futile effort.
Gary Neal, after missing the last two games with concussion-like symptoms, checked into the game near the 8-minute mark of the first quarter and quickly nailed a 3-pointer to give the Spurs an 11-10 lead but Tony Allen answered for the Grizzlies.
The Spurs committed four turnovers in the first six minutes of the game, leading to eight points for Memphis and an 18-14 lead at the 5:51 mark. By that point of the game, the Grizzlies hit 8-of-11 field goal attempts.
Tim Duncan came into the game tied at #10 with Alonzo Mourning on the NBA’s top 10 career shot blockers list, with 2,356. His first block of the Tuesday’s game against the Grizzlies came near the 5-minute mark of the first quarter, moving him into sole possession of the #10 spot. If there were any Spurs highlights to the game, that was it.
San Antonio called another timeout with 3:52 to go in the first, down by eight, 22-14. Ginobili then drove on Hamed Haddadi for a floating basket. With time winding down in the first quarter, he hit another basket, was fouled and converted, bringing the Spurs within two, 32-30, at the end of one. It was as close as they would be for the rest of the game.
The Spurs seven turnovers in the first quarter were indicative of the sloppy play and they were fortunate to be down by just two.
Memphis quickly took control in the second quarter, going up by nine near the 9-minute mark, 42-33, and the Spurs were clearly missing Parker’s leadership.
Coming out of a timeout midway through the quarter, Grizzlies starting center Marc Gasol fouled Duncan and his wide-eyed antics led to his second technical in the game, and the ensuing ejection sent him to the showers.
The Spurs were unable to capitalize, as the Memphis home crowd became loud and the Grizzlies continued their hot shooting.
An Antonio McDyess jumper cut the lead to 53-47, and Memphis head coach Lionel Hollins called a timeout with 2:41 before the half. The Grizzlies responded, outscoring the Spurs 8-5 the rest of the quarter, including a big basket by Mike Conley with less than a second to play and they joined up with Gasol in the locker room with a 61-52 lead at the half.
For Memphis, Randolph led the first half with 13 points and Tony Allen added 10 points.
The Spurs’ Ginobili had 9 points and 7 assists and Duncan also scored 9 points. Key to the first half were the Spurs 14 turnovers that led to 20 points for Memphis.
In the third quarter, a Tony Allen basket kept the Memphis lead at nine, 67-58, forcing Popovich into a timeout at 7:48, searching for an answer. There were none.
With 4:38 to go in the third, Memphis enjoyed their largest lead of the game, 73-60, thanks to an 11-2 run, but they weren’t quite through.
Randolph converted a three-point play to put Memphis up 78-62 near the 3-minute mark and at the end of three quarters still maintained their huge lead, 83-67.
Memphis opened the final quarter on a 9-0 run and the Spurs were waving the white flag. Duncan and Ginobili did not return to the game, resting up for Cleveland on Wednesday, the second game of a back-to-back road trip.
For the Spurs, their fast-paced transition game relying heavily on three-pointers and Parker’s unparalleled ability to lead that transition, the search is on for new energy. Who, or how many, will provide that energy remains to be seen.
Popovich, after the game had little to say, and what he did say should light a fire for the Spurs. “It was a pretty pathetic performance on our part. It was mostly due to their aggressiveness and how much they wanted the game. It was a disappointing night and not something to be proud of,” he said, MySA reports.
The quick turnaround will no doubt have the Spurs coaching staff searching for players willing to fill Parker’s void. George Hill, starting in place of Parker and unaccustomed to not coming off the bench, is faced with the daunting task of helping the Spurs regroup and smooth the transition from Parker’s silky moves to the basket back to a Plan B.
Looming in the not-too-distant future are key match-ups with the Lakers, Houston, Miami, Dallas and Boston.
More about San antonio spurs, Memphis grizzlies, western conference, NBA, Tony parker
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