Grizzlies-Spurs notebook


By Tim Price, for NBA.com
Posted Tuesday December 27, 2011 1:06AM

THE FACTS: Even though they shot less than 40 percent from the floor, the San Antonio Spurs played well enough defensively to force Memphis into 25 turnovers compounded by an uncharacteristically feeble game from Zach Randolph (10 points, six rebounds) to post a 95-82 victory over the Grizzlies in the season-opener for both teams Monday at AT&T Center. It was a rematch of the opening round of the playoffs when the West's eight-seeded Grizzlies shocked the top-seeded Spurs by winning the series in six games.

QUOTABLE: "Our defense got better every single quarter. That's a good Grizzlies team. They got Rudy Gay back, and they'll be right there at the end."
-- Spurs forward Richard Jefferson

THE STAT: Memphis had a 10-point lead in the first quarter while Tim Duncan sat on the Spurs bench with three fouls not even six minutes in, but mistakes mounted on the Memphis side and washed away that lead by early in the second quarter. Before the end of the third quarter the Spurs were ahead by 19, and the Grizzlies already had thrown the ball away 21 times. By game's end, San Antonio doubled Memphis in points scored off turnovers (28-14).

TURNING POINT: The Grizzlies led by one at halftime and were down only 52-49 on Gay's reverse layup 3:47 into the second half. But the Spurs went on a 16-0 run over the next five minutes while Memphis went 0-of-5 from the floor and turned the ball over five times on the next 10 trips down the floor.

QUOTABLE II: "(The Spurs) were taking away the post from us. We've got to do a better job of moving the ball and getting the big fellas the ball early. They did a good job of fronting (Randolph). Whenever he got the ball they helped with two and three defenders and made him have to make the play and give it up. Zach didn't get to see the daylight too often around the post."
-- Memphis point guard Mike Conley

HOT: The Spurs considered every option they had for getting rid of Jefferson during the offseason, including using the amnesty clause from the latest collective bargaining agreement. But the Spurs had no other option and held on, and Jefferson responded by hitting three-straight baskets to start the second quarter and drew a charging foul. Jefferson scored 14 points on 5-of-11 shooting, including 3-of-7 from the 3-point line.

NOT: Randolph was a major thorn in the Spurs' side last season, but he didn't hit double figures in scoring this time until there were four minutes left. He finished 3-of-8 and had as many turnovers and made shots. In four games last regular season against San Antonio, Randolph averaged 23 points and almost 15 rebounds then averaged 21 points and nine rebounds in the six-game series victory in the first round of the playoffs.

FANTASY SPOTLIGHT: After missing the final 25 games of the regular season and all of the Grizzlies' playoff run last year, Gay returned with 19 points and 10 rebounds.

INSIDE THE ARENA: Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III, along with the rest of the Baylor Bears football team and their Alamo Bowl opponent Washington Huskies, had seats past one of the baselines. The teams play Thursday at the Alamodome.

GOOD MOVE: As a Spurs rookie last season, Tiago Splitter saw limited playing time and was practically overlooked during the first four games of the playoff series with Memphis. But when the Spurs ran into foul trouble tonight, they brought Splitter off the bench and he helped defend Randolph. Splitter only scored five points on 2-of-7 shooting, but he contributed eight rebounds, two blocked shots and two steals.

BAD MOVE: Duncan picked up two quick fouls but stayed in the game. That left it open for a tough call against him, when he lowered his shoulder and bumped with Marc Gasol and was called for an offensive foul by first-year referee Josh Tiven. That took Duncan out of the game for the rest of the first half, but Memphis was unable to capitalize when seven Grizzlies players combined for nine turnovers in the second quarter.

ROOKIE WATCH: The Spurs traded productive guard George Hill to Indiana to move up to the 15th overall selection in the draft this year to select Kawhi Leonard from San Diego State. In his debut, Leonard opened in the first quarter by bringing the ball up and having it swiped easily by Gay for an even easier slamdunk. But Leonard returned and was on the floor for most of the Spurs' decisive 16-0 run in the third quarter and scored six of those points -- one on a 3-pointer -- and also added a steal.

NOTABLE: The Spurs are 14-1 in season-openers under coach Gregg Popovich.

UP NEXT: For the Grizzlies, Wednesday vs. Oklahoma City, Friday vs. Houston, Sunday @ Chicago. For the Spurs, Wednesday vs. Clippers, Thursday @ Houston, Saturday vs. Utah.

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