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NBA Playoffs: Grizzlies go for the kill, take 3-1 lead over Spurs

Apr 26, 2011, 12:51 AM EDT

O. J. Mayo

The San Antonio Spurs are lost. Their will is broken, their vaunted offense has withered and died, and the three-star core that has brought so much success to the Spurs franchise just isn’t producing at an acceptable level.

Or, more accurately, the Memphis Grizzlies have erased the Spurs. They’ve broken San Antonio’s will, and smothered the Spurs’ vaunted offense with a hyperactive defense. The three-star core that has brought so much success to the Spurs franchise has been shackled, while the best players in this series have worn three shades of blue.

Regardless of which perspective you prefer, the facts remain the same: The Memphis Grizzlies demolished the San Antonio Spurs in the second half in Game 4, and rode out their momentum to a 104-86 win and a decisive 3-1 series lead.

Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol made some remarkable plays on both ends of the court, but scored just 20 combined points and grabbed 18 combined rebounds. This wasn’t merely a case of of that tandem working over San Antonio’s bigs, but instead a comprehensive dominance by the Grizzlies from top to bottom. Gasol made Tim Duncan a non-factor. Darrell Arthur came in off the bench to provide some great two-way production in the second half. Mike Conley finished with just 6-of-15 shooting from the field, but ran the offense expertly and hit some key baskets. O.J. Mayo and Tony Allen D-ed up and made smart cuts. The Grizz just worked and worked and worked, and countered each of San Antonio’s runs with a relentless commitment to forcing turnovers and moving within the offense. By the end of the game, the Spurs had turned the ball over on nearly one-fifth of their possessions, and the Grizz had scored at a rate of 119.5 points per 100 possessions. Memphis topped the No. 1 seed with a bullet, an exclamation point, and just about every emphatic accessory one could possibly think of.

What’s worse: the Spurs had the best production out of their bench in this series, as George Hill, Tiago Splitter, and Gary Neal contributed 31 points between the three of them. Most of Neal’s production came after the game had already been decided, but Splitter’s near double-double and Hill’s contributions were no mirage; San Antonio had two solid bench contributors scoring efficiently, but just didn’t have the bulk production necessary from the starters, nor anything resembling an effective defense.

One need only to watch the third quarter for a full sampling of the Grizzlies’ authority. The Spurs shot 6-of-15 from the field and 1-of-4 from three-point range. They attempted just two free throws, and turned the ball over seven times. Meanwhile, the Grizz rattled off punishing 14-0 and 10-2 runs to open and close the quarter, and finished with 30 in the frame overall. Five of Memphis’ players scored five or more points in the third, and the team’s six assists in those 12 minutes doesn’t even do justice to the quality of their teamwork. The Grizz are clicking, and with each interior pass, well-timed rotation, and quality shot attempt, San Antonio’s existence dwindles away.

Who knows what will become of San Antonio next season and beyond, but this year’s team is in the ground, awaiting only the closure of a proper burial. This isn’t another premature eulogy, the kind to which the Spurs are no stranger; San Antonio is done. Cast a cold eye on life, on death, on Spurs. Horseman, pass by.

  1. memphismiracle - Apr 26, 2011 at 7:44 AM

    I was at the game last night. I have never seen a team dominate another team the way the Grizzlies did during that 3rd quarter. It was a lot of fun to watch. I think Memphis as a city is starting to understand this whole “NBA playoffs” experience. It is a lot more fun when you win a few games.

    • gilgameth - Apr 26, 2011 at 9:58 AM

      Grizzlies are not a bad team, folks. If they played in the east, they would be a legit 4 seed, at least. Mayo, Conley, M.Gasol are a young, strong core of talent, Randolph has been solid for years when his head has been in it. Spurs are old and hurt and all their wins came before the all-star break, so not as shocking as face value.

  2. omniusprime - Apr 26, 2011 at 9:48 AM

    Now we see that the Spurs were nothing but a regular season flash and a playoff bust. So funny to remember the idiot pundits who kept saying the Spurs were the Laker’s worst nightmare in the West. Looks like the Repeat World Champion Lakers will have homecourt advantage throughout the Western Conference playoffs and it won’t matter what team they meet from the wimpy Eastern Creampuff Conference as they Threepeat this June! As the Grizzlies are proving the Wild Wild West is the vastly superior conference.

    • ibleedaquaorange - Apr 26, 2011 at 9:55 AM

      Conference or division pride in any sport is absolutely retarded.

      • gilgameth - Apr 26, 2011 at 10:01 AM

        So the Western conference isn’t better top to bottom, at least the playoff teams? But you’re right, con or div rah-rah’s indicate douchebaggotry…

    • andyhr17 - Apr 26, 2011 at 10:54 AM

      I don’t know if you’ve been paying attention, but the Lakers series is tied 2-2, against the #7 seed while your best player has a sprained ankle. You’re living in a dream world if you believe the Lakers are dominating in the playoffs right now.

      • gilgameth - Apr 26, 2011 at 11:36 AM

        The L’s might just get bounced out in the first round…they look awful. Not a great team this year, hell, they’re barely good. Seriously. If the L’s had any kind of bench, they might have had a run at it, but they absolutely DON’T have a bench, and everybody but Kobe is playing like they are under water. It’s been fun watching them get beat, that’s for sure…

  3. Colin Zvosec - Apr 26, 2011 at 2:51 PM

    I’m not a Lakers fan, but everything being said about them right now was being said about them a year ago when the Thunder had them tied at 2 and had just blown them out of the building. Its foolish to count the Lakers out.

  4. mikedarockstar - Apr 27, 2011 at 9:54 AM

    You guys kinda got off track that was suppose to be grizzlies spurs talk

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