Spurs lose overtime thriller to Grizzlies 124-122

Luke Lawhorn, Sports Editor

The San Antonio Spurs lost to the Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday night in overtime 124-122. The Spurs (5-7) were trailing in every quarter of the game, including by 15 at halftime. 32 points from Memphis guards Ja Morant and Desmond Bane led the Grizzlies (8-4) to a road victory. The Grizzlies won their seventh straight game over the Spurs.

“Thought our guys did fantastic against a heck of a basketball team. Hard to guard … they got a great thing going. To play them the way we did tonight feels really good,” coach Gregg Popovich said in the postgame press conference.

The Grizzlies outrebounded San Antonio 53-39, including Steven Adams’s game-high 19 boards for Memphis. The Spurs had seven players in double-figure scoring, including Devin Vassell and Jakob Poeltl, each having 22.

Morant opened the game with 10 points in the first quarter. The Spurs called a timeout after trailing 34-24. Doug McDermott made a layup, then a possession later, Vassell hit a three-pointer. Josh Richardson gave the Spurs another three to close and closed the first quarter down 38-32.

Vassell made another three in the opening of the second quarter, having eight points in the first 3:10 in the second. McDermott fired another three, which gave San Antonio a 51-49 lead. Memphis closed the half on a 15-8 run, leading 66-59. Morant led the Grizzlies with 18 points, and Vassell led the Spurs with 15 points and four assists. Memphis shot 60 percent from three in the first half and outrebounded the Spurs 26-14.

Richardson made another three, lighting the crowd on fire and pulling San Antonio back within one point of the Grizzlies. Richardson kept the hot hand going as he made another three from the top of the key, regaining the Spurs lead 87-85. Vassell kept the momentum going as he scored another three-pointer. Richardson made a buzzer-beating tip shot to end the third quarter with the Spurs up five, 94-89. 

Memphis regained the lead early in the fourth. The Grizzlies went up 101-96, prompting the Spurs to call a timeout. The contagious three-point-making spread to Tre Jones, who made one of his own to trail just 106-104. The Spurs tied the game at 112 with a made free-throw by Johnson. Johnson then had an eight-foot look to potentially win the game, but the ball bounced off the rim to force overtime.

The Grizzlies jumped out to a 9-2 run in the extra period, seeming as if they would blow the game open. However, after trailing nine points, San Antonio scored eight unanswered to trail by just one as Jeremy Sochan made a layup, then stole the ball from Bane to dunk the ball and force a Memphis timeout. 

Morant was fouled and sent to the free-throw line, where he went one for two, giving the Grizzlies a 124-122 lead. Vassell missed a 26-foot three-point look as time expired to lose San Antonio’s fifth game in a row.

The Spurs’ young roster is becoming more battle-tested with their recent losses against two of last year’s playoff teams, each game coming within six points. Vassell had 22 points on the night and was the potential game-winner. His points came in times of need and always brought San Antonio back within striking distance. 

“We’re a young team, and to play against the Grizzlies, who’s a good team — a great team — and to be able to fight like that in overtime and have two shots that are right there shows a testament to our team,” Vassell said after the game. 

The Spurs will host a third-straight home game against the Milwaukee Bucks at 7 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 11.