Another season opener, another loss for the Memphis-era Grizzlies. After an unspeakably bad second quarter, the Grizz clawed their way back to within 6 in the final few minutes, before Parker and the Spurs’ starters put the game on ice. A couple of late threes made the score respectable in what was an up and down night for Dave Joerger’s Grizzlies.
Memphis has now lost 9 straight in San Antonio. The Spurs lost just 6 games at home last year, and 5 the year before that. The Grizz have never won a season opener since moving to Memphis (12 years). You didn’t need to be Nate Silver to predict what would happen tonight. There was plenty to take away though, so let’s get to it.
Tony Allen went 3-3 from deep and led the Grizz with 15 points. This is the guy who was 3-24 from three all last year. No, I don’t understand it either. He also added 2 steals, 2 rebounds, and 3 assists to his stat sheet. (And he missed a couple of layups, God love him.)
Bayless played backup point guard for a surprising amount of time, and seemed to handle it as well as he ever will. In fact, the Bayless/Allen/Pondexter/Leuer/Koufos line-up was Memphis’ most effective against a dominant Spurs bench, going +39 as a group. Joerger often sent one starter out to play with his bench units, usually Gasol or Allen. The rotation seemed less restrictive than it did in under Hollins — 10 guys saw the floor in the first quarter, and only Jamal Franklin did not play.
The second quarter was an embarrassment, and just the thing to get the worriers going on Twitter. San Antonio went on a 19-0 run during a 9-minute scoring drought for Memphis, punctuated by the mother of all offensive dysfunction: a Tony Allen 3. A 21-point halftime deficit was too big a mountain to climb in the end.
Zach Randolph had just 2 points in 26 minutes, his worst big-minutes performance in years. The Spurs are officially Z-Bo’s kryptonite, so don’t think this was tone-setting for his season. He was beat up under the basket with no help from the refs, but he needs to be careful about getting too “pouty” on physical nights like these.
Jon Leuer outplayed Ed Davis again, this time in more minutes. It doesn’t show in his stat sheet – 2 points and 3 rebounds, 1-3 from the field – but to see Leuer in the flow of Memphis’ offense is a beautiful thing. He was +11 on the night. @HerringtonNBA is currently accepting Jon Leuer nickname nominations, but be aware that he has already vetoed “Money Badger.”
Prince was an early boost, getting 7 of his 9 points in the first quarter, but falling to 4-11 from the field. Going forward, it’s going to be hard to tell whether it’s his lingering illness or natural limitations that are the source of his struggle. Q-Pon had 13 points, 3 assists, and a block, and was instrumental in the fourth quarter comeback.
We all know Tony Allen is great, but the team’s perimeter D on the whole needs retooling. The Spurs were 11-20 from range, which is bad enough, but it was the casual abandon with which they were lofting them up that was really annoying.