Photo Credit: Rafael Gutierrez
Photo Credit: Rafael Gutierrez
The best way to heal any difficult loss in the NBA is by winning. Following a devastating NBA Finals loss last summer to the Miami Heat, that is exactly what the San Antonio Spurs did to start the 2013-14 NBA season as they defeated the Memphis Grizzlies 101-94 on Wednesday, Oct. 30, at the AT&T Center.
Kawhi Leonard and Boris Diaw led the Spurs with 14 points each, while Tony Parker added 13 points and nine assists in the victory.
The Grizzlies down by 14 points in the fourth quarter went on a 17-8 run, cutting the Spurs lead to five. But 3-point shots by Parker and guard Danny Green kept the Spurs ahead by nine points, and the Grizzlies could not get closer any closer, leading to their fifth straight loss going back to last seasons Western Conference Finals.
“The second team did a real good job offensively in the first half, but not such a good job defensively in the second half,” Spurs coach Greg Popovich said. “I thought we lost our defensive intensity and they (Grizzlies) got back in the game.”
The biggest impact of the game came from the Spurs’ reserve unit that combined to score 53 points, and they ignited a 30-7 second quarter barrage over the Grizzlies. More specifically, it was Patty Mills who scored 10 of his 12 points in the second quarter, hitting all three of his 3-point shots, giving the Spurs a 21-point lead by halftime.
“It was a good win for us against a very physical team,” Parker said. “We played good defense, especially in the first half. But it is always tough in the NBA to keep a 20-point lead.”
Despite the win, the Spurs did have a scare in the third quarter when forward Tim Duncan had to leave the game after catching an elbow to his chest. It was diagnosed as a chest contusion, and he is scheduled to be checked out on Thursday.
“He will get checked out tomorrow, but he had a spasm to his shoulder and his neck,” Popovich said. “It looks like his chest is bruised.”
In his place Tiago Splitter, Jeff Ayres, Matt Bonner and Diaw all stepped up and made shots for the Spurs. Splitter finished the game with 11 points and eight rebounds.
“I thought Tiago and Boris did a really good job. I thought Jeff got his feet wet tonight, a good opportunity to get some minutes and see what the system looks like and how to play within that system.”
Diaw in particular was aggressive in Duncan’s absence, and the team seemed to benefit from his shot selections.
“Well you have seen that as an extension from his French team. He did it all summer long. He went and talked to a guru in India or something. I don’t know what he did,” Popovich said. “But he catches and shoots now. I got nothing to do with it. I have been begging him since he got here. His previous coaches have begged him and all of a sudden he is a catch and shoot guy. It’s continued and we’re all happy about it.”
Popovich overall kept his analysis of where the Spurs stand to a few simple words.
“We won,” Popovich said in a matter-of-fact way. “We have 81 more to go.”
Next up is Los Angeles Lakers team playing without all-star Kobe Bryant. The game is at the Staples Center on Friday, Nov. 1 at 9:30 p.m.