Spurs Send Memphis Scrambling For Answers With Win

By Gregory Moore
Updated: April 17, 2005

SAN ANTONIO – The Memphis Grizzlies came into tonight’s game against the San Antonio Spurs with a 2-0 series lead. In both of those games the Grizzlies handled the Spurs’ offense punch with very little fanfare or problems even though both wins were a combined five points overall. But as is often the case with a history lesson, sooner or later the pupil gets his act together and learns from past mistakes. That was the case tonight as the Spurs not only defeated the Grizzlies in their last regular season home game, they completely dismantled any spirit their opponents had with a 97-75 win.

This game was important for the Grizzlies because they still had not quite secured the eight seed in the playoff pairings. As things stand, the Grizzlies are a game and a half up for the eighth seed while the Minnesota Timberwolves are sitting and waiting at 42-37. There is now a sense of urgency for this Memphis squad as they have the Spurs at home on Monday and the Dallas Mavericks on April 20th. And while this has little bearing on the playoff makeup for the Spurs, it serves as a sidebar that Tony Parker and company could actually control another team’s destiny with a win on Monday and tying the series.

While the Grizzlies were imploding during the game, it was the Spurs and their bench who stepped up handled this talented opponent. In his second game back, Tim Duncan scored eleven points and grabbed eight rebounds.

I thought he started out a little stiff, a little tentative,” Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich said in post game briefing. “He didn’t look real loose. As the game went along, he looked more confident and his body moved better.” The rest of the starters contributed well in the game with Bruce Bowen scoring fifteen points, Manu Ginobili scoring thirteen, Tony Parker scoring ten points and dishing out ten assists, and Nazr Muhammad scoring eight points and blocking five shots.

“It was a good win for us,” Popovich said. “We played well at both ends of the court; they played good team defense and it was one of those nights where we shot well.” For the Grizzlies, only two players scored in double figures: Pau Gasol, who had seventeen points, and Stromile Swift, who had fifteen points in the loss.

SEEING THE BED MORE THAN YOUR OPPONENT The Grizzlies are coming off a road game streak of their own as they also had played the Dallas Mavericks, Houston Rockets, and Denver Nuggets. All three of these teams are playoff bound themselves and so it has been difficult for the team to find some confidence to win two games and solidify the last playoff position.

“You have to be concerned when basically all four games we dug ourselves in a hole,” Grizzlies head coach Mike Fratello said.

“We are excited to be going home,” Brian Cardinal said. “We play a lot better at home. Even though we have some tough games coming up, we’ll feel a lot better ourselves if we beat one of these team.” HOME COOKING IS WHAT THE SPURSWANT AND NEED “We have to take care of our own,” Duncan said after the game.

The Phoenix Suns hold the top record but the Spurs will take second place anytime of the day. The playoffs will begin next Friday/Saturday and right now the Spurs are in the second position. Right now the Spurs are looking at the Denver Nuggets in the first round of the playoffs; a team that they have had problems to deal with this whole season. Yet because it is a seven game series, the Spurs might be able to win this with no problems.

“To win the championship you have to win on the road, and we did that the last time we won,” Ginobili said. “It is important to have home court advantage, but we can win in the playoffs without it.” The next two games for the Spurs are important because at 59-21; a win over these same Grizzlies on Monday and over the wolves on Wednesday, this franchise will have a season record of 61-21, the second best mark in franchise history.