The story coming into the game was how the Spurs were going to respond to life without Splitter. Tiago is not the most celebrated player on the roster, but his importance to the Spurs' schemes is undeniable, especially against a team like the Grizzlies. Zach Randolph ran wild on the Spurs in 2010-11, but Splitter has done a good job of containing him ever since, which helped start a period of dominance for San Antonio. Fortunately for the Spurs, Jeff Ayres did a solid job of replacing the Brazilian in Memphis. The Grizzlies tried to run their offense through Z-Bo but Ayres did a good job of beating him to his spots in the first quarter. Randolph had to settle for outside shots way too often while the Spurs offense was humming, with Marco Belinelli putting on a clinic in how to cut to the basket without the ball. But as has been the issue this year, the Spurs were missing the appropriate fear against a team that was missing its best player. The Spurs grew complacent and the Griz kept it close. As the reserves checked in, the Spurs seemed primed to crack the game wide open. With Patty Mills and Belinelli providing the firepower, the Spurs started to pull away. But the underrated Jon Leuer kept the Grizzlies in it despite receiving little help from the bench playmakers. With the Spurs going small, Memphis worked the ball to Randolph in the post against Tim Duncan to end the half, but Big Fun outscored Z-Bo six to four in the second to keep the Spurs in control going into halftime, 53-41. The Grizzlies are not a team that quits easily, even without Gasol. Memphis started hitting their mid-range jumpers while Duncan's misses knocked the Spurs' spacing out of whack. But with Manu Ginobili and Boris Diaw clicking -- and the Grizzlies' shooters coming back to earth -- the lead stayed around the double-digit mark for much of the third and fourth quarters. Maybe I'm just jaded after watching the Spurs go on cruise control and win this type of game earlier this season, but I didn't feel like the win was in jeopardy at any time, not even when Memphis went on a 7-0 run coming into the final minutes. Timmy answered with a bucket and Belinelli seemed to put the final nail in the coffin as he hit a three-pointer of a screen.
Spurs sleepwalk down the stretch, need overtime to beat Grizzlies, 110-108
Pounding The Rock | Jan 8