Season 50, Game 51
San Antonio 74, Memphis 89
39-12, 2nd in the West
The fact that the Spurs laid such an egg in this game isn’t all that surprising. Down Kawhi against a very good defensive team on the road, a loss was surely a possible outcome. When gaming out the Rodeo Road Trip (RRT) schedule, this was one of the two games I had earmarked as a potential loss.
And stinkers happen. Much like that game against Orlando early in the season, sometimes a team just doesn’t have it and all the breaks go against them.
But the extent to which this game was complete and utter trash is what is shocking. Let’s run it down:
• The Spurs held the Grizzlies to 89 points… and still lost by 15 points. They had a defensive rating of 98.9 (a mark that would be near-record setting over the course of a season), which improved their already league-leading rating… and still got blown out.
• Why? The offense. Their offensive rating (and I do mean offensive) was 77.1, which is “Division-III college vs. competent NBA team” bad.
• The Spurs scored 74 points, their lowest total since 2011.
• They tallied 11 assists total, to 16 turnovers. That is not a good ratio.
• They shot 36% for the game. In the 4th quarter, they shot 13%, and it only got that high because the team had a final basket in garbage time. Before that final basket? 9%. (3-for-24 in the final frame.)
• In that 4th quarter, they scored a mere 9 points.
• They scored 14 points in the 1st quarter.
• LaMarcus – who seemed determined to be ‘the man’ in the absence of Kawhi – shot 4-for-19. He did not have a good game.
• I did mention that the team managed 23 points in one half of basketball, right? (Sure, it wasn’t in a consecutive half, but I’m still counting it.)
It was a really, really, really, really bad game of basketball.
And yet, as crazy as it sounds, I really think it was just a historically cold shooting night. Yes, the Grizzlies have a good defense. But the Spurs got most any shot they wanted. And they just missed, and missed, and missed, and missed some more for good measure.
But they played hard; they played smart. The defense was actually solid. Believe it or not, they were right in it until (almost) the very end. There was a moment, middle 4th quarter, when Parker got a steal, passed it ahead to Anderson, who pushed it up to Aldridge on the fast break heading for an easy layup… and for whatever reason, Aldridge hesitated, gathered, took an unnecessary dribble, then blew the (now) contested layup at the rim. The Grizzlies went the other way and scored 2.
LMA’s basket could have cut it to 4; instead it pushed to 8. In a game that low-scoring, that lead became almost insurmountable.
While the game was putrid, I’m not freaking out about it. It’s much easier to write off a performance like that as a dud and just move on with it.
The Rodeo Road Trip continues Wednesday night in Philadelphia.
Go Spurs Go.