Grizzlies vs. Spurs preview
By Alan Ferguson
The San Antonio Spurs have had a good handle on the Memphis Grizzlies in recent matchups, but they won't have their starting center for the next one.
Tiago Splitter will begin his lengthy absence when the Spurs visit Memphis on Tuesday night.
San Antonio (26-8) has won six straight against the Grizzlies, sweeping them in last year's Western Conference finals and taking both matchups this season. The latest was a 102-86 rout in Memphis on Nov. 22.
"We know them pretty good. We've been playing them a lot in the past couple of years," forward Boris Diaw said. "They're a tough team inside. We've got to match their energy and physicality."
The Spurs won't have the 6-foot-11 Splitter to help them down low. He's out for three to five weeks after spraining his right shoulder in a 116-92 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers on Saturday.
Splitter scored a season-high 22 points before suffering the injury while running into Los Angeles center Ryan Hollins' chest in the fourth quarter.
"It's very tough. It's very, very tough. It's going to be a big loss for us," forward Tim Duncan said. "He's been playing great for us all year."
Memphis hasn't had Marc Gasol, its center and the reigning NBA Defensive Player of the Year, for much of this season because of a knee injury. Tony Allen and Quincy Pondexter have also been out.
The Grizzlies (15-18) have done a decent job of overcoming those absences recently, winning five of eight and blowing out Detroit 112-84 on Sunday. Reserve Jon Leuer had a career high-tying 23 points and eight rebounds while leading six Memphis players that scored in double figures.
"Jon did a great job last year of honing his game all through (last) season. He was still working hard in March and April when a lot of players have hit the rookie wall," coach David Joerger said. "This year, he's taken things another step, and you can see where it has paid off."
Memphis' bench had 52 points against the Pistons, and the reserves have produced their three best scoring performances in the last five contests, turning in 62- and 54-point efforts as well.
"As a bench unit that's our main focus; to come in and give our offense a big spread and bring energy. We wanted to pick up the slack," forward Ed Davis said. "We've got good bench players. We're out there to produce and win the game."
The Grizzlies' reserves totaled 18 points in the home loss to San Antonio in November, but had 40 in a 101-94 road defeat to the Spurs on Oct. 30.
Starting guard Mike Conley had 28 points Nov. 22, and he's averaged 20.0 points in his last six home games against the Spurs, including postseason.
Tony Parker has been particularly troublesome for Memphis lately with averages of 23.3 points and 7.8 assists in his last 10 regular-season and playoff meetings.
The Spurs are expecting to get Diaw back from illness to help them seek a fourth consecutive road win. San Antonio has won its past three games in Memphis, including postseason.
Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited.