Spurs (24-17) vs. Memphis Grizzlies (18-22)
When, where: Wednesday, 7 p.m., FedExForum, Memphis
Last season: Series tied 1-1
All-time series record: Spurs lead 70-23
Season series: Tied 1-1
Last meeting: Spurs 108, Grizzlies 88, Saturday, AT&T Center
Spurs' last game: Beat Pistons 119-107, Monday, Detroit
Grizzlies' last game: Lost to Pelicans 114-95, Monday, New Orleans
Spurs' last 10 games/streak: 8-2, won five
Grizzlies' last 10 games/streak: 2-8, lost six
Spurs' injury/inactive report: Forward Drew Eubanks (G League assignment), out; forward Rudy Gay (sprained left wrist), out; Chimezie Metu (G League assignment), out; forward Ben Moore (G League assignment); Dejounte Murray (torn right anterior cruciate ligament), out; Lonnie Walker IV (G League assignment), out.
Grizzlies' injury/inactive report: Guard/forward Dillon Brooks (toe soreness), out; guard Jevon Carter (knee), probable; forward JaMychal Green (shoulder), questionable; forward Chandler Parsons (has left team indefinitely), out.
Notable: The Spurs are playing the Grizzlies for the second time in five nights. San Antonio beat Memphis by 20 points Saturday night at the AT&T Center . . . Wednesday night's game is the front end of a back-to-back for the Silver and Black, who host Oklahoma City on Thursday. The Spurs and the Thunder meet again Saturday in OKC. The Thunder (25-15) are third in the Western Conference standings heading into Wednesday night's action. San Antonio is tied with Portland for sixth in the West, trailing first-place Denver by four games . . . The Spurs are the only NBA team with an all-time winning record against every team in the league . . . With the victory over Detroit on Monday, Spurs coach Gregg Popovich moved past Don Nelson for second in NBA history in road wins (518). Pat Riley is No. 1 with 520. Popovich also moved into a tie with Jerry Sloan for third in career victories with 1,221. Nelson is first (1,335) and Lenny Wilkens (1,332) is second . . . The Spurs have won five straight. That ties them with the Denver Nuggets for the league's longest active winning streak this season . . . San Antonio has won 13 of its last 16 since going 11-14 in its first 25 games.
Spurs point guard Derrick White is still a young pup with much to learn in the rough-and-tumble NBA, but his steady improvement has been a key factor in the team’s resurgence.
Coach Gregg Popovich, who usually tempers his praise of younger players, has been highly complimentary of White and the role he’s played in the Silver and Black’s steady rise in the NBA Western Conference standings.
The Silver and Black (24-17) have won 13 of their last 16 after going 11-14 in their first 25 games. San Antonio, which ends a two-game road trip Wednesday night in Memphis, has won five in a row.
White was especially impressive in a three-game stretch last week, averaging 20 points and shooting 82.8 percent (24-29). The only other player in Spurs history to average 20+ points while shooting over 80 percent in a three-game stretch was Gene Banks in 1983. White also nailed 5 of 6 three-pointers for good measure.
PREVIOUS GAME: Silver & Black reach halfway mark of season Monday
“Derrick is rising to the challenge,” Popovich said after watching White score 19 points and dish out four assists in last Thursday’s 125-107 victory over the Toronto Raptors. “He wasn’t expected to be in this position this season, and he’s grown by leaps and bounds every week.
“With every game, he seems to be more confident, making great decisions and his demeanor is wonderful. The guys trust him out there. I’m really happy for him. He is doing a fine job.”
The Spurs, who start the second half of their season against the Grizzlies (18-22) on Wednesday night, end a two-game road trip that began with a 119-107 victory against the Detroit Pistons on Monday. The game in Memphis will be the second in five days between San Antonio and Memphis, and the front end of a back-to-back for the Silver and Black, who host Oklahoma City on Thursday.
White has averaged 7.9 points, 3.0 rebounds and 3.4 assists in his second season with the Silver and Black. He has been on a tear in his last six games, averaging 16.5 points while shooting 70.6 percent (36-51). White has scored in double figures in six straight games.
White was Popovich’s choice to replace DeJounte Murray at point guard after Murray sustained a season-ending knee injury in the preseason. But White was on the bench when the regular season started, felled by a foot injury he suffered in the team’s next-to-last exhibition game.
Bryn Forbes, the other half of the Spurs’ young backcourt who is having a breakout season himself, got the call to start at point guard. White missed the first nine games of the season, but he made up for lost time quickly. Forbes has settled in at shooting guard, his natural position, and is having a breakout season, averaging 12.2 points, 2.5 rebounds and 2.3 assists.
A low-key, unassuming guy, White has impressed Spurs coaches and his teammates with his poise and the quiet confidence he exudes. A second-year pro, White has found a comfort level on the court that has grown steadily.
“Definitely, each game I’m just getting more and more comfortable, getting in a better rhythm (and) just trying to build off each game.”
White, 6-foot-4 and 190 pounds, has developed into the Spurs’ top perimeter defender. He earned plaudits from Popovich for his defense against former Spurs All-Star forward Kawhi Leonard, who traded to the Toronto Raptors for DeMar DeRozan last July.
“I thought he did a fine job,” Popovich said. “Derrick’s a talented young player who’s basically getting his feet wet. The people he guards every night are a little bit different than what he expected, I think, at the beginning of the season. We couldn’t be more pleased with what he does each and every night.”
As well as White has played defensively, Popovich said that doesn’t necessarily mean he’ll guard the opponent’s best perimeter player.
“It depends on other players that are on the court,” Popovich said. “There are different reasons for different matchups. That’s not is job every single night. It doesn’t matter who he guards. Usually it’s the other NBA point guard, and those guys are pretty good in this league. He’s got his work cut out for him every night.”
Asked if White had a reputation as a good defender coming out Colorado, where he played for one season, Popovich replied: “I don’t know,” he said. “I don’t pay attention to that stuff. The year starts, they step on the floor and I coach them.”
White, 24, was selected by San Antonio with the 29th pick in 2017 NBA draft. Born and raised in Parker, Colo., located about 25 miles southeast of Denver, White was a standout at Legend High School in Parker before going on to star at the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs, which competes in NCAA Division II. He transferred to the University of Colorado in Boulder after three seasons, earning first-team All-Pac 12 honors in his only campaign with the Buffaloes.