Spurs - Grizzlies Preview
With only a few weeks left in the regular season, the San Antonio Spurs' first losing streak since January couldn't come at a more inopportune time.
A visit from the streaking Memphis Grizzlies and Zach Randolph may not help.
The Spurs will try to sweep the season series Thursday night from the Grizzlies, who have won four straight.
San Antonio (40-16) had its 11-game winning streak snapped with a 91-84 loss at Utah on Monday, but were without Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker - its three leading scorers - as each got the night off.
Maybe that was a mistake as Ginobili and Parker struggled Wednesday in a 98-84 home loss to the Los Angeles Lakers, finishing with nine and four points, respectively. Parker shot 2 of 12 while Duncan had 14 points and two rebounds - his fewest since January.
"Hopefully it fuels us, makes us better," Ginobili said. "It was kind of embarrassing."
With 10 games left, the Spurs remained one game behind Western Conference-leading Oklahoma City, which also lost.
San Antonio hasn't lost back-to-back games since Jan. 27 and 29 and has yet to drop three in a row this season.
A third straight loss seems likely unless the Spurs can improve upon the 84.0 points and 40.5 percent shooting they've managed the past two games. They've also been dominated on the boards in both games, getting outrebounded by an average of 19.5.
"It's a great wakeup call," Parker said. "Tomorrow we have another big one. It's going to be even more physical that tonight. Memphis is playing very well."
San Antonio's matchups with Memphis (34-23) have been similar low-scoring, physical contests. After losing to the Grizzlies in the first round of the playoffs last year, the Spurs have won all three matchups this season while averaging 89.0 points and limiting the Grizzlies to 79.7.
However, Memphis was without Zach Randolph the last two times the teams met due to a knee injury. Randolph, who is averaging 14.0 points and 11.5 rebounds the past four games overall, was critical in the playoff series victory for the Grizzlies, averaging 21.5 points and 9.2 rebounds.
Memphis is coming off a 104-93 win over Phoenix on Wednesday - the first time in 10 games it scored 100 points.
Rudy Gay scored a season-high 32 points while Randolph had 17 and nine rebounds.
Memphis has won four straight and nine of 11, during which it has held opponents to 91.0 points. The Grizzlies are one-half game behind the Los Angeles Clippers for the fourth seed in the West.
"It's getting down to the wire," Gay said. "Everybody is fighting for position."
While Memphis has lost all three games against the Spurs this season and is 7-30 all-time in San Antonio, the Grizzlies showed by knocking the Spurs out of the playoffs last season, they won't be overlooked.
"It's a big game. We really can't lose right now," Gay said. "We're going to keep pushing and pushing. We're just taking them as another team. Obviously, it's going to be a little emotional being that we've been there and have a little history with them. The biggest thing is just trying to keep these wins up."
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