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FINAL: Spurs lose to Grizzlies 129-112 in poor defensive performance

KENS 5 is the official station of the San Antonio Spurs.

SAN ANTONIO —

San Antonio Spurs vs. Memphis Grizzlies

The Spurs looked like a team playing on the second night of a back to back, and the Grizzlies looked like a team that had rested for almost two weeks before coming into the AT&T Center and beating San Antonio 129-112.

Derrick White scored a team-high 18 in his return, but DeMar DeRozan managed only 5 as the Grizzlies shot red-hot against some rough defense by San Antonio.

White said he felt good, and his toe wasn't broken this time so that's a plus, but he was disappointed the Spurs couldn't pull off the win.

When asked what he saw on that end that caused the struggles tonight, coach Gregg Popovich summed it up without getting into details.

"I'm not gonna do a clinic for you, we got outplayed," he said.

Lonnie Walker IV got a bit more specific, saying that the Grizzlies hit floaters and corner threes on the weak side. He also said that everyone needs to play harder and better individually.

San Antonio's next opportunity will come Monday, running it back against this same Memphis team.

Recap

Fourth quarter

Kyle Anderson continued to haunt his old team, getting two steals to open the fourth.

With the Spurs down 12, Dejounte Murray, Lonnie Walker IV and DeMar DeRozan came in. Murray got to the line to bring it back to 10. Anderson attacked and hit a floater off a slow fake, but Gay answered at the line.

An interior stop on defense was followed by an interior opportunity on offense, and Aldridge hit free throws after a putback attempt to make it 106-98. Memphis bailed out the Spurs with some bad shot selection, and Lonnie got to the rack and forced a goaltend to make it 6.

Melton hit an open triple after a timeout, then DeMar missed a contested one. The Spurs went to the dynamic combo of Derrick, Dejounte, Lonnie, DeMar and LA, and Dejounte scored at the rim one possession and found Derrick for three the next time down to make it 110-105.

The Spurs gave up another three, then Dejounte charged for another turnover, then Brooks hit another 3, then Morant got to the rim again to make it 118-105. The Spurs didn't give up after that late 8-0 run, as White got to the line but missed one.

Pop put in some deep reserves with over three minutes left, down 12. Tre Jones matching up with his older brother Tyus was a nice moment, but not one that would move the needle for the Spurs. They lost 129-112.

Third quarter

Lonnie Walker IV picked up where he left off drilling a three. DeMar DeRozan drove through Dillon Brooks and hit a tough layup, but he got T'd up for jawing at him after.

Morant continued his hot shooting, but DeRozan stepped in for a charge. Keldon Johnson bullied his way to the rim on an assertive, loud eurostep that he hit. Morant had 6 points in the quarter before Pop called time with the Spurs down 9 again.

The Spurs didn't execute well out of it, with DeRozan turning it over on a drive and Lonnie fouling Kyle Anderson in transition for an and-1, pushing Memphis' lead to 12. Morant made it 14 on a magical layup right at LaMarcus Aldridge before Johnson finished inside with finesse. After giving up another bucket in the paint, Pop called timeout down 78-64.

Rudy Gay knocked down a corner three, but the Spurs continued to surrender an unnacceptable amount of threes and layups while turning it over 6 times in the quarter.

Memphis built the lead to 18, but Patty Mills hit a three to stop the bleeding. White knocked down another three from the corner, but Gorgui Dieng answered. 

On the other end Patty got a switch on the big man, stepped back and hit a three to make it 10. After ceding another bucket and missing a shot, Jakob poeltl punched a miss out to Derrick White at the arc. It looked like he was going to fire a three, but instead he fired a jump pass back to Poeltl for an open dunk.

Poeltl blocked a few shots, but one of them went in anyway.

White pulled off a eurostep through contact for an open layup and Jakob Poeltl answered more shooting from Memphis with a finish in close.

The Spurs went into the fourth quarter down 100-90.

Second quarter

San Antonio's defense picked it up, with Jakob Poeltl protecting the rim and the perimeter players getting steals. Rudy Gay knocked down a three, and Devin Vassell created his own shot from mid-range as each did what the other is better at.

Dejounte Murray got one layup in transition, then another with a foul as the Spurs closed within two.

Former Spur Kyle Anderson continued scoring, as did Ja Morant. Patty Mills found Gay for a dunk, and Murray got another layup before heading to the bench for Derrick White, who came in for another tough layup.

Lonnie Walker IV drove strong, occupied three defenders, and found Poeltl with a nifty pass underneath.

Derrick hit a cutting Keldon underneath and he got kicked in the gut, missing the shot. He followed it up with a steal and screamed to the rim and to the line in transition for two.

Derrick White continued doing Derrick White things, driving and cutting and forcing two offensive fouls from Memphis. The Grizzlies built the lead to 11 by attacking the rim and defending like their lives depended on it.

Johnson was near the corner and made a back cut as Lonnie drove, getting to the line. Lonnie picked off a pass on the other end, dishing to DJ who missed through contact, but Keldon loudly cleaned up the glass. Lonnie got an open three, and it went halfway down before popping out.

Memphis hit another three, and with four seconds left in the half Lonnie drove the length of the court and chucked a deep shot that hit. 

San Antonio trailed 64-56 at the break.

First quarter

The Spurs went through LaMarcus Aldridge in the pick and pop. He hit a mid-range jumper to start, then Lonnie Walker IV drove and found Dejounte Murray for three.

The Spurs couldn't get stops on the other end, continuing the trend of slow starts defensively. Memphis broke out the zone defense early, and after a stagnant possession Walker hit a deep triple.

San Antonio went to a zone defense as well after Memphis built a 12-8 lead and had some success. Walker ran pick and pop again with Aldridge, and the big man knocked down a triple. The next time down he caught, pumped, dribbled in, and nailed an elbow jumper. He popped again and drained another triple.

After another stop, DeRozan hit a three to tie it at 20.

Derrick White came back in, and LaMarcus found him out of a triple team for an open three, which of course hit nothing but twine. 

White returned the favor and found LA on a cut, but he missed the bunny.

The full bench unit was Patty Mills, Derrick White, Devin Vassell, Rudy Gay, and Jakob Poeltl. Memphis continued to score fairly easily, finishing the quarter with a 35-27 lead.

When, where: Saturday, 7:30 p.m., San Antonio

All-time series record: Spurs lead 74-26

Last season: Teams split series 1-1

Season series: Spurs lead 1-0

Last meeting: Spurs won 131-119, December 23, 2020

Grizzlies' last game: Won vs Suns, 108-104

Spurs' last game: Won versus Nuggets, 119-109

Grizzlies' last 10 games/streak: 6-4, won 5

Spurs' last 10 games/streak: 6-4, won 3

Grizzlies' injury/inactive report: Grayson Allen: OUT; Killian Tillie: DAY-TO-DAY; Jontay Porter: OUT (knee); Sean McDermott: DAY-TO-DAY; Jaren Jackson Jr.: OUT (knee); Jonas Valanciunas: OUT (COVID-19 protocols); Justise Winslow: OUT

Spurs' injury/inactive report: Derrick White: ACTIVE (toe)

Pregame

The Spurs are looking to extend their winning streak to four games against a shorthanded Memphis Grizzlies team.

San Antonio might be dealing with some tired legs after beating Denver 119-109 on Friday night, but they'll get Derrick White back in the mix. He missed some time recovering from toe surgery, then broke the same toe in his return. It was frustrating for him and everyone else, but the Spurs are now 11-8 and the 4th seed out West, and they're excited to get him back.

Gregg Popovich spoke before the game, but he didn't say much.

It's a level of intensity and focus that has proven to bring those same qualities out of a team that can seemingly only lose if they don't bring it. They have wins over the Lakers, Clippers, Nuggets and Celtics, but (explainable) losses to Minnesota and a shorthanded Rockets team.

Fair or not, the perception is that the Spurs have played down to competition in the past year or more and it has cost them winnable games. Tonight is another test where the Spurs are favored against a team they should beat, but tired legs and a poor shooting night could come back to bite them. As long as they execute and defend at a high level, they should get the job done.

Spurs push win streak to 3 with win over Nuggets

The Spurs passed another tough test at the AT&T Center Friday night, toppling a Denver Nuggets squad that had won five in a row and passing them for fourth in the Western Conference.

San Antonio notched their third win in a row behind an absurdly efficient 30 points and 10 assists from DeMar DeRozan, 26 points and 7 boards from a poised Dejounte Murray, 19 and nine from the hyper-aggressive Keldon Johnson, and 17 off the bench by Patty Mills.

DeRozan did all that on 11-14 shooting with just a single turnover. He said his efficiency was about playing the chess game and taking what the defense gave him.

After the game head coach Gregg Popovich spoke about what he liked tonight, which doubles as a list of reasons that they're 11-8 on the year. He said the up-tempo pace was beneficial, and so was the good-to-great ball movement. He saw better recognition in team defense and more pride in individual defense. 

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