SAN ANTONIO — The San Antonio Spurs' season ended on Wednesday afternoon in Memphis on an ugly shooting night, falling 100-96 to the Grizzlies.
The Spurs went down 17-38 in the first quarter, but they were able to erase that deficit and make it a competitive game down the stretch. It was a microcosm of a season full of games where the Spurs got into big holes but never stopped competing.
Gregg Popovich said he was proud of the effort that his guys showed, "even though they got manhandled in the first quarter."
"I don't know if I've ever been more proud of a team that just doesn't quit, no matter what the mistakes, no matter what the circumstances are, they really fight," Pop said.
Lonnie Walker IV
Memphis built their lead out to 10 on a triple from Tyus Jones. Gorgui Dieng answered with a physical rolling finish on a feed from Dejounte Murray, and 1. Murray found Dieng at the arc, and he drained a triple.
Rudy Gay pulled up on a double-clutch mid-range shot and drilled it, cutting the Spurs' deficit to four and drawing a Memphis timeout with 8:42 left to bring back Ja Morant and Jonas Valanciunas, who had a 20-point, 20-rebound game before the fourth quarter.
Patty Mills ran off a series of screens and drilled a triple to cut it to one. DeRozan got to his spot and hit his shot, giving the Spurs their first lead since 2-0 at 83-81
Dillon Brooks answered with an elbow jumper, then DeRozan drove and kicked to Keldon Johnson for three. Brooks got to the same spot to tie it, then untied it with a driving finish that gave him 22 points. After another stop, he drove again for 24 and a four-point lead.
DeRozan gave Brooks his fourth foul and got to the free throw line, hitting a pair.
Dieng looked like he took a charge on Morant, but after a review it was changed to a charge. Morant missed both free throws badly.
Jakob Poeltl worked his butt off for an offensive board and got fouled, then gave it right back on an illegal screen. Morant finished a floater over Poeltl.
DeRozan drove in off a feed from Murray, getting to the line and hitting the shots again.
Morant ran pick and roll and found Kyle Anderson for a wide-open corner three. Valanciunas got an offensive board and put it in, putting Memphis up 94-87 with 3:13 to play.
Rudy Gay caught a pass from Murray at the arc, drilling the triple. Morant answered with a pretty interior finish. Murray lost the ball on a drive, then poked it away from Morant.
Morant stepped back and missed a three, but rookie Desmond Bane put it back. DeRozan hit a post-up jumper, and after a stop Rudy Gay took matters into his own hands and drew free throws, hitting the first and missing the second to make it a 5-point game with 46 seconds left.
Slo-Mo set an illegal screen and the Spurs got it back. DeRozan had another look at a jumper, but he missed it and Poeltl missed the tip.
It took the Spurs too long to foul, and they got the ball back down 6 with 13.2 seconds left in their season. Rudy Gay hit an impossible three to make it 99-96 with 9 seconds to play.
Morant got fouled, missed the first, but hit the second. Gay chucked another three and missed, and that was the game..
San Antonio lost 100-96 in a game where they shot just 35% from the floor.
DeMar DeRozan started the game 1-11 from the floor, but hit his first jumper of the second half. Lonnie Walker IV hit one as well, and Jakob Poeltl finished a layup and a dunk while playing tough interior defense and recording his fourth block of the game.
Walker made free throws to make it 62-59 Memphis. Then San Antonio turned it over a few times and gave up a 6-0 run, prompting a timeout by Pop.
DeRozan got Brooks in the air and drew a foul, the third for Brooks. Jakob Poeltl got his fifth block and a board, and Rudy Gay dribbled in and stepped back for a jumper.
DeRozan drove into Valanciunas' chest in pick and roll and created space for a floater. Ja Morant got into the paint and hit a pretty floater after a crossover.
Valanciunas went to the bench with the Grizzlies up 72-65, and that's how the third quarter ended.
Patty Mills knocked down a three to start things off, then Dejounte Murray drove in for a tough paint floater.
Jakob Poeltl passed to DeMar DeRozan for a deuce, then DeRozan got it back to him for free throws. After another stop, Murray found Poeltl for a layup to make it an 8-0 run and a 41-30 game. after the Spurs trailed by as many as 21.
After a timeout, Patty Mills drained a deep three and Dejounte Murray hit free throws to cut it to 6. Murray then found Jakob with a creative feed for a dunk. After another stop, Murray missed but Keldon Johnson put it back. Memphis called timeout again, as their 21-point lead was shaved down to two by a 22-3 run that took just five minutes.
Ja Morant and Jonas Valanciunas came back in, and Morant crammed a dunk on a back cut to end San Antonio's run. Valanciunas scored as well.The Spurs missed seven shots in a row after cutting the deficit to two, but Rudy Gay hit a pull-up on the baseline.
DeRozan gave Brooks his second foul and got to the line, cutting it back to four. Poeltl stuffed Ja at the rim, but on the ensuing transition break Kyle Anderson swatted an attempt by Johnson.
After a miss by Poeltl, Johnson tipped it up and in. Ja Morant stepped into a three and drilled it, his second of the game.
San Antonio trailed 56-49 at the break.
Dejounte Murray opened the game by ripping a steal from Ja Morant, taking it the other way for a jam.
Murray blocked the next shot, and Lonnie Walker IV blocked the shot after that. Jakob Poeltl picked up an early foul, and Pop called timeout to slow a 10-2 run by Memphis behind Jaren Jackson Jr., Jonas Valanciunas and Dillon Brooks.
Brooks made a free throw, then stole the ball from DeMar DeRozan who fell to the ground. Valanciunas dunked in transition, then Jackson Jr. drilled his second triple of the game.
Memphis built their lead out to 18-4 before Keldon Johnson finished off a pump fake inside. Valanciunas finished on a roll inside, and Morant got a three on a second chance to force another timeout with the Spurs down 23-6.
Dillon Brooks hit a crazy post fade to put the Grizzlies up 21. Lonnie Walker IV drove in for a layup for the Spurs, then went to the bench as DeMar stayed out there with Patty Mills, Devin Vassell, Rudy Gay and Drew Eubanks.
San Antonio got obliterated on the boards 20-9, Shot just 30% from the floor, and trailed 38-19 after the first.
When, where: Wednesday, 6:30 p.m., Memphis
All-time series record: Spurs lead 74-28
Last season: Teams split series 1-1
Season series: Grizzlies won 2-1
Last meeting: Grizzlies won 133-102, February 1, 2021
Grizzlies' last game: Lost vs. Warriors, 113-101
Spurs' last game: Lost vs. Suns, 123-121
Grizzlies' last 10 games/streak: 6-4, lost 1 after winning 5 straight
Spurs' last 10 games/streak: 2-8, lost 4
Grizzlies' injury/inactive report: Grayson Allen: OUT (abdomen); Sean McDermott: OUT
Spurs' injury/inactive report: Derrick White: OUT (ankle); Trey Lyles: questionable (ankle); Luka Samanic: OUT (finger)
The entire season for the San Antonio Spurs comes down to one game against the Grizzlies.
The winner will take on whoever loses in the late game between the Lakers and Warriors for the right to become the eighth seed. Before the Spurs can think about that they have a win-or-go-home game in Memphis.
This contest between two similar young teams is full of intriguing individual matchups and large-scale chess decisions to make. Can the Spurs force Ja Morant to shoot? Will Dillon Brooks stymie DeMar DeRozan? Which team will win in transition? Who will be more composed? We broke down all of that and more here.
Before the game, coach Gregg Popovich spoke about DeRozan and Morant, the two stars at the center of this do-or-die game.
When asked how DeMar has helped San Antonio's young players develop, Popovich spoke about DeRozan's continued development as a player.
"DeMar has totally bought in to trying to play a movement game on offense," Pop said. Of course we're gonna go to him a lot, just like you always do with your best players, but he's moving without the ball more than he ever has, he's become serious about playing defense, he's always been a good leader, so he's improved his all-around basketball game beyond just being able to score."
As far as Morant goes, Pop said he was obviously a heck of a player, but didn't go into specifics about his growth in terms of skill. Instead, he said he's becoming more confident.