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article imageNBA: Spurs implosion continues, fall to Grizzlies

By Lynn Herrmann     Mar 28, 2011 in Sports
Memphis - Ending their three-game road trip on a sour note, the San Antonio Spurs continued their act of self-destruction in Memphis and by game’s end had given up another fourth quarter lead, falling to the Grizzlies in the closing minutes, 111-104.
After playing much of the regular season with a healthy squad, the Spurs have not only hit a rough spot in the road, they have apparently fallen into a pothole, unable to regain their traction after losing Tim Duncan to an ankle injury four games ago. As a result, they now have their first three-game losing streak of the season, their first such affair since January of last year.
On Sunday against Memphis, the Spurs unfortunate events of late continued, setting the stage for another disappointing loss. Things went from bad to worse at the 2:13 mark of the second half when shooting guard Manu Ginobilli’s left thigh was the recipient of a Marc Gasol knee.
The massive collision landed Ginobili flat on his back and after regaining a sense of what had just happened, went to the bench. He attempted a return in the second half, but the injury was too much. “At first, when I came to the bench, I thought I was going to be OK. Then it stiffened up. I can’t put my full weight on it,” he said after the game, according to MySA.
He was diagnosed with a left quad contusion and as a result, is listed as questionable for Monday night’s rematch with Portland. Yes, the same Portland team that delivered a knockout blow to the Spurs’ aspirations as finishing with a number one seed for the approaching playoffs.
Not only did the collision send Ginobili to the bench, the no-call on the play incensed head coach Gregg Popovich so much he went out to near mid court, furious with the officials. The restraining efforts by assistant coach Mike Budenholzer were no match for the quick reaction of referee Jason Phillips who leveled two technicals against Popovich and the ensuing ejection from the game.
The Spurs, down 55-50 at the half, managed to play respectable ball in the second half, and had a 13-3 run to start the final quarter, giving them a 90-84 lead. But Memphis continued its attack mode, with Zach Randolph scoring 11 of his 23 points during the final frame to carry the Grizzlies over the slumping Spurs.
George Hill, coming off the bench for the Spurs, matched his career high with 30 points, and after the game said: “We can’t make excuses. At the same time, we’re in a tough spot right now. Just have to get through it,” MySA reports.
Getting through it will be tough. Now, their once seemingly insurmountable seven-game lead in the Western Conference, as recent as six games ago, is history and they find the Lakers breathing down their necks with just four games separating them and nine games left in the regular season. The remaining schedule does San Antonio no favors, with matchups against heavyweights Portland, Boston and what will inevitably determine their season, an April 12 affair against the Lakers in Los Angeles.
More about knockout blow, San antonio spurs, Portland trail blazers, Memphis grizzlies, Gregg popovich
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