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Let’s Get Back to the Games, Shall We?

By Jeff Koch on December 1, 2012.

And what a doozy we got tonight in San Antonio between the Grizzlies and the Spurs.

The Grizzlies are one of those teams that is utterly frightening to play, as you feel like you really have no advantage against them, and they are just so damn physical, every game becomes a street fight. We beat them 4 times last year, and it still feels like we have no chance in any game against them. Every game will be a dogfight. And every game will be very entertaining.

As was tonight’s game.

Let’s do some bullet points:

–The first half was a roller coaster of emotion: Duncan goes for 21 pts, 8 rebs, and 2 asts! The team misses 11 straight 3s! Parker plays out of his mind! Nobody besides Parker or Duncan can do anything! Fittingly enough, the half ended down only 1 point.

–The third quarter was ugly, as Memphis seized control of the game and got up by as many as 15. This is Memphis at their best, grit and grind, controlling both ends of the floor with physicality and dictating the tempo. For all of their great players, Gasol is their most important. With him playing the entire 3rd, they owned the game. It wasn’t until he went to the bench that we were able to get ourselves back into the game.

–One of the thing that Pop does brilliantly is infusing the bench and role players with confidence, by trusting them to be professional basketball players. Last year’s loss against Dallas was in many ways the turning point of the season, when the role players really broke out and we rolled through the rest of the season. The loss in Miami can have a similar effect this year. The bench players know they can play with anybody, and they know that their coach trusts them in big games and to play well. It was the bench and the energy from these players that swung the game in the beginning parts of the 4th quarter. Neal, Bonner, and Mills in particular were huge. Bonner, who hasn’t played much this year, played the entire 4th quarter and OT and played great D on Randolph.

–Lots of Good Manu/Bad Manu tonight. He got a few huge steals that helped turn the game. But then he missed 2 FTs, a 3, and had a reckless TO on back-to-back to possessions. Oh yeah, then he made the 3 that tied the game.

–I have a theory that when you’re making a comeback, you need to get the score back to tied at least once, to reset the narrative and emotion of the game within the players’ minds. We kept getting so close but could never quite get there, until we got a fluky Duncan offensive rebound that led to a Ginobili corner 3. Until that point, it seemed as if we wouldn’t be able to get over the hump.

–Our last possession in regulation was really ugly, as the team seemed to not get what Pop wanted, and wasted too much time getting the ball into Manu’s hands. In general, I’m a fan of NOT calling the timeout to prevent the defense from setting up, especially with a team that has such great chemistry and so many reps. But that seemed like a time to call one.

–Never mind, though, as Memphis ran a horrible play at the end of regulation.

–Once we hit the OT, it just seemed like all the momentum swung the Spurs way, and Memphis ran out of gas. Coincidentally, this was the second night of a back-to-back for them. Not that rest matters much or anything. (Completely unrelated, anybody see Duncan’s facial of Gasol in the first half? Yeah, that was pretty sweet.)

Fantastic win tonight against what is looking like one of the top teams in the Western Conference. Now we get some much needed un-fine-able home rest before playing Wednesday against Milwaukee at home.

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