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article imageNBA: Grizzlies in control, crush Spurs to go up 3-1

By Lynn Herrmann     Apr 26, 2011 in Sports
Memphis - On Monday night in Memphis, San Antonio was knocked out by a Grizzlies 14-0 run in the third quarter, and their lay-down effort, apparently new-style Spurs basketball, led to a 104-86 blowout loss giving Memphis a commanding 3-1 series lead.
In the grueling series against the Grizzlies, the Spurs have finally put together four consecutive quarters of good basketball, with the only problem being the fact that the four quarters have spanned two basketball games.
It was supposed to be a matchup that Spurs team captain Tim Duncan labeled a “must-win” game, but somehow managing to lose their focus, or possibly never really having any, the new-look Spurs are now a game away from being just the second number one seed in the NBA’s 24-second shot clock era to lose to a number 8 seed. Based on the series thus far, that could come as early as Wednesday in San Antonio or definitely on Friday back in Memphis.
Being outplayed and out-coached thus far in the series, San Antonio, having lost 11 of its last 16 games going back to the regular season, now faces the unlikely possibility of winning three straight games against the overpowering Grizzlies.
With that thought comes a good-luck blessing. In the Duncan era, the Spurs are 0-5 when falling behind 3-1 in playoff series.
As they have done all season long, the Spurs failed to bring to the Monday affair anything resembling defense, but played good enough on offense to have a two-point lead at the half.
That lead came largely on the back of starting point guard Tony Parker, who returned to form in the first half by scoring 19 points on 7-of-7 shooting from the floor. That performance was wasted, however, as the rest of the Spurs forget there were still two quarters remaining in the game.
After that 50-48 halftime lead, disaster struck in the third quarter for the Spurs when Memphis rolled out on a 14-0 run, going up 62-50 to take complete control of the game. It was the defining moment of the game and once again, as they did on Saturday, the Grizzlies teamed up with their home crowd to keep the Spurs on the mat.
For its part, San Antonio did manage to put together a 13-6 run after that, closing to within 68-63, but then allowed Memphis to fashion another 10-2 run that put the Grizzlies on top 78-65 at the end of three, and with severe weather fast approaching the Memphis area, the game should have been called. It would have saved the Spurs any further embarrassment
If seven third-quarter turnovers that led to 11 Grizzlies points were not enough for the Spurs, for good measure they began the fourth with another one. By game’s end they had committed 17 of them, giving Memphis a huge 20-6 edge in points off turnovers.
Making matters worse was the Spurs three-point shooting affair, a meager 5-of-18 from beyond the arc that, combined with their pathetic 2-of-15 from three-point land on Saturday calls into question, once again, what the Spurs coaching staff has been thinking regarding a title run more dependent on the three ball than on playing team defense. Included in that shooting performance is Matt Bonner’s 0-for-4 effort in the last two games, typical of his usual post-season production.
On the other hand, it was a total team effort on the part of the Grizzlies, with eight players scoring nine or more points. They were led by Mike Conley with 15 points and 7 assists. Tony Allen scored 12, while Zach Randolph and O.J. Mayo each scored 11.
Darrell Arthur was simply superb, coming off the bench to score 14 points on 7-of-10 shooting, with much of that damage coming in the third and early in the fourth. Typical of his performance was a sequence near the start of the final period. Blocking a Parker shot, he raced to the opposite end of the court for a slam dunk that gave his team an 83-67 lead with 10:00 left in the game. As one could expect, the home crowd went over the edge on the two plays.
Parker led the Spurs with 23 points and three assists, followed by Manu Ginobili with 14 points and four assists. The remaining Spurs starters, Duncan, Richard Jefferson and Antonio McDyess, combined for just 10 points, with Jefferson having an 0-for-4 shooting effort.
The lone bright spot for the Spurs, besides Parker, was Tiago Splitter. Finally getting to see the first playoff action of his NBA career, he almost pulled off a double-double, scoring 10 points and grabbing nine rebounds coming off the bench.
Speaking after the game on Spurs Radio, assistant coach Don Newman summed up the sordid affair: “Those guys turned up the intensity, and we shut it off. You just cannot win playing playoff basketball by playing just one half.”
With questions inevitably leading to more questions as soon as Memphis completes the improbable, the Spurs are probably tired of asking themselves how badly do they want it. But once again, that is exactly where they are at. Based on their post-season performance thus far, from the head of the coaching staff down to the end of the bench, they apparently don’t want it bad enough.
More about Memphis grizzlies, the grizzlies, San antonio spurs, western conference playoffs, number one seed
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