Postgame Report: Grizzlies outduel Spurs 100-96, earn chance to play for No. 8 seed
Key Stat of the Night
- The Grizzlies starting lineup outscored the Spurs' starters 86-59 while shooting 46.6 percent from the field to the Spurs’ 31.7 percent. The Grizzlies held the Spurs' starters to 1-for-8 shooting from the 3-point line.
Key Run of the Night
- The Grizzlies spent the second half fending off the Spurs until a Keldon Johnson 3-pointer capped a 16-4 run in the fourth quarter to take an 83-81 lead with 6:55 remaining. Three straight buckets from Dillon Brooks sparked a 17-7 run to retake the lead at 98-90 with 1:25 to play.
The Memphis Grizzlies earned a shot to play for the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference with a 100-96 victory over the San Antonino Spurs in the nine-ten play-in game at FedExForum on Wednesday.
Dillon Brooks sparked the late run to decide the game, finishing with 24 points, seven rebounds and three assists. Jonas Valanciunas recorded his fourth game with more that 20 points and rebounds, finishing with 23 points and 23 rebounds to go with three blocks. Ja Morant's 20 points, six rebounds and six assists guided the Grizzlies attack while Kyle Anderson did his part on both ends, adding nine points, six rebounds and four blocks.
Rudy Gay and DeMar DeRozan led the Spurs with 20 points each while Keldon Johnson notched a double-double with 11 points and 11 rebounds. Dejounte Murray recorded a triple-double with 10 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists.
The Grizzlies starting lineup came out with energy to pull together a nearly perfect first quarter that included a 32-9 run. Valanciunas dominated the paint with 12 points and nine rebounds, while Brooks went 4-for-6 from the field for 10 points, as the Grizzlies held the Spurs to 19 points in the quarter.
The Spurs would answer with a 17-0 run in the second quarter to cut the lead to two until the Grizzlies' starters returned to reclaim a 56-49 lead at halftime. Valanciunas posted 16 points and 15 rebounds in the first half.
The Grizzlies spent the second half fending off the Spurs until a Keldon Johnson 3-pointer capped off a 16-4 run in the fourth quarter, giving San Antonio the lead with 6:55 remaining. It was back-to-back buckets from Brooks that sparked the late-game 17-7 run to help Memphis retake the lead. Gay hit a 3-pointer to bring the Spurs within three points with 9.3 seconds remaining, but a clutch free throw from Morant and a stop on the other end secured the victory for the Grizzlies.
The Grizzlies will travel to play the loser of the seven-eight play-in game between the Golden State Warriors and Los Angeles Lakers on Friday at 8 p.m. CT. in San Francisco or Los Angeles.
On his message to the team after the win:Just an unbelievable effort tonight. I’m really proud of a lot of guys, especially our starters. I thought (Dillon Brooks) was phenomenal defensively. Obviously he had a huge run offensively for us to keep the game close. I think that was in the fourth quarter. (Jonas Valančiūnas) was unbelievable with 23 (points) and 23 (rebounds), multiple blocked shots. (DeMar) DeRozan attacking downhill, other guys attacking downhill, just his presence in the paint was phenomenal. (Kyle Anderson) with a big shot late, (Desmond Bane) big shots late, Ja (Morant) big shots and a big free throw there to pretty much seal it. I told the guys, we talked about our habits all season, the last couple of weeks emphasizing that, especially the last couple of days. I thought we were really really good for more of the game than not. Our habits were there. Our discipline was there. Obviously, we’re always going to be competing. And then most of all, especially after having that great first quarter, and then the Spurs going on that huge run in that second quarter, we kept staying together. We knew it was a long game, never waivered. I say it all the time, there are different ways to win ball games, you can give up the lead in the fourth quarter. The energy, our fans were unbelievable. We gave up the lead and they just gave us new life. Our guys just kept staying the course, staying together, great positive attitude throughout, understood what we had to do to make winning plays, especially in that late part of that fourth quarter. I’m just really proud of the effort.
On the team’s resilience:You’ve just got to keep competing. That’s the number one thing we talk about, resiliency comes from that if you start from that mentality. We’ve been in these moments all season. Obviously it gets more heightened and magnified in a game like this, playoff basketball, and our guys, hopefully there will just be enough of that experience and understanding that when you do take a punch like that, how are you going to respond? We keep playing the same way aggressively offensively. We’re getting good looks. We’re missing, but let’s just make sure that we’re dialing it mentally that, hey we can’t let up on the defensive end. So, we were able to regroup and maintain a lead there going into that halftime. A low scoring affair in that third quarter back and forth, but we continued to get better. I thought our mental toughness really showed in that second half, definitely in that fourth quarter after giving up the lead. But, it’s a credit to our group. They know it’s a 48-minute game. There’s ebbs and flows, ups and downs. We talk about that: no highs, no lows, and you’ve got to find different ways to win. Big-time plays there in that fourth quarter defensively and offensively from a lot of our guys, especially our starting group. So, hopefully we can build on this and keep kind of moving forward.
On the physicality of the game:I think both teams were physical. Obviously we didn’t have the ball moving the assist totals. We tried to use pick-and-rolls to kind of loosen them up. We had a lot of great looks. At times it didn’t fall. We had great pace there during that first quarter, I think we had nine assists, and then the game just kind of grinds out. This time of year everyone says it, right? Playoff basketballs starts slowing down. There was a physicality that both teams played with, and I’m just glad our guys were able to fight through that stuff. Some of the downhill attacks we had late in the game against physicality to relieve their pressure, some ball screens, I give the Spurs a lot of credit. Dejounte Murray on the ball, their athletic wings, (Jakob Poeltl) in the ball screens up and back in protecting the pain, there was just high level activity, high level physicality both ways. I’m just really proud of our guys to just find enough plays to overcome, and then obviously our defensive activity was phenomenal. Tons of pick-and-rolls with DeRozan, our closeouts and aggression. They’ve got aggressive drivers just guarding one-on-one and showing crowds and trying to keep them away from the rim where they’re pretty lethal in the paint. So overall I thought just the activity and physicality. This is great exposure for our guys, and moving forward you’ve got to have that in the back of your mind. That’s the level we’ve got to get to.
On what this win means:That was huge. Fourth quarter, they made a little run, pretty much all second half, they were just playing hard. Credit to them, they’re well-coached. They were definitely going to make a run at some point, but we withstood it. Threw a punch back and that’s what led to the end of the game.
On Dillon Brooks’ timely energy:He’s just playing downhill, he’s playing aggressive. He knows what spots he wants to get to. He works on his game so much, so he knows exactly where he wants to shoot the ball from and he just gets to those spots and elevates. When he’s in attack mode, it’s hard to stop him, especially going downhill, especially getting to his midrange. That brings him energy. And on the defensive end, he’s pretty much like the best wing defender in the league. So you see it.
On how far the team’s focus on small defensive keys can carry them:Oh, it’s going to take us very far. We definitely want to be on the same page and communicate with each other. That was good, we did that tonight. JV (Jonas Valanciunas) was very active. He had a lot of blocked shots. We were rotating the right way. Knowing which guys we want to take away and which guys we can kind of leave (alone) at times. It’s just locking in on personnel and all that.
On getting a taste of the crowd’s playoff energy with a “Growl Towel” atmosphere:I mean, it was amazing. There’s really nothing like it, especially early on. You feel that energy from the crowd. You see the towels out, kind of reminds you of the old days. It was just very surreal. You can’t really put it into words. I was just so happy to seeing everybody. We’re getting closer and closer to everybody being there. The fans know what time it is. They’re loud, they’re with us. They’re really our real sixth man. So it was great.
On whether things clicked better tonight than they had recently during the regular season:I mean, we were just locked it. I’m not surprised. We’re all very talented, we know what we can bring to the table. I guess everybody was just clicking at the right time. I’m glad, because it’s a big game. So we were just locked in. We were ready to go. And I’m fortunate (to have been involved in it).
On the journey from last year’s play-in game (when he got hurt) up to this point:This is what I play for. The whole reason I came back is because of play-in games like this. I’m just thankful to be out there, really. It definitely was a long year before (tonight). And not being able to play in the last game previous year was definitely hard to watch. I’m just glad to be out there helping the guys, playing in these meaningful games, games that matter. It was great.
On what allowed the team to be defensively impactful tonight:We were just talking really loud, making sure everybody knew where everybody was. Back line was definitely very loud, calling out screens. We were disciplined, showing our hands. We weren’t trying to foul. Even the fouls they did call, we really weren’t gambling too much, sometimes it just happens. We were all connected, on the same page.
On playing against Gorgui Dieng, who was with Memphis earlier this year:I mean, you know, (Gorgui Dieng) my guy. Big part of our group this year. Seeing him against us is kind of funny. He got a couple buckets, I know he was feeling himself a little bit. I wasn’t thinking too much about it, I really wasn’t too swayed. There’s too much going on for me to get wrapped in that. But in general, that’s our guy, man.
On winning the game:It feels good, but we are not in the playoffs yet. Just have to turn the page.
On the fans:Their energy tonight was incredible. It fueled us early in the game. It helped us make a run of our own after the Spurs went on a huge run to get back into the game. We just feed off their energy. Their energy tonight was incredible. We are thankful for them. We were happy to get a win for them on our home floor and for them to be there to watch.
On Dillion Brooks and Jonas Valančiūnas:Those two guys were big time for us tonight. A lot of credit to everybody on our team. We all got it done. For JV I think he had 23 (points) and 23 (rebounds). He really kept them off the boards. They are a really good rebounding team and he demanded the paint for us tonight. DB, speaking of his defense, I think tonight gave him another case to be on the all-defensive team with his defense on (DeMar) DeRozan who is a tough cover. He is a talented player and an all-star. DB got it done on both ends of the floor for us tonight. Especially in the fourth quarter with that run he went on.
On being a potential spoiler for the Los Angeles Lakers or Golden State Warriors:Our plan is to pack for a three-game road trip. No matter who we are facing out of those two, our goal is to go out and win. Whoever the matchup is, we have to lock in tonight. We are going to watch them play each other tonight and study the film and then just be ready to go when we find out who we play.
On what to take away from tonight:Just not letting teams go on a big of a run like the Spurs did tonight. We have to find a way to lock in and stop that run early with a run of our own and keep the game not close basically. We got up to like 21 (points) and then it was down to two (point lead). Then, they actually took the lead late. We just have to find a way to have the same energy from the start of the game to the finish.
On Tyus Jones and Jaren Jackson Jr.:I am extremely happy for them. It just shows how deep our roster is. With Tyus, he is a veteran guard and Jaren is in his third season and just getting back. Him being able to jump right into high intensity games and make an impact is big for us. We try to tell each and every one of our guys that when they go out there to just play with confidence and those two showed up big for us tonight.
- With the win over the San Antonio Spurs in the Nine-Ten game as part of the NBA Play-In Tournament, the Memphis Grizzlies will move on to play the loser of the Seven-Eight game (Golden State Warriors @ Los Angeles Lakers) on the road on Friday, May 21. The winner of the May 21 game will be the eighth seed in the Western Conference Playoffs and play the No. 1 seed Utah Jazz.
- While the Play-In games are separate from the postseason, the Grizzlies and Spurs have met five different times in the NBA Playoffs, most recently in the 2017 Western Conference First Round. Memphis memorably upset San Antonio in the first round in 2011, becoming the second eight-seed in NBA history to defeat a one-seed in a seven-game series, and faced the Spurs in the 2013 Western Conference Finals.
- Memphis went 2-1 against San Antonio in the 2020-21 season series with the road team winning all three matchups. The teams met in the regular season opener on Dec. 23 at FedExForum.
- The Grizzlies forced the Spurs’ top two scorers, DeMar DeRozan and Dejounte Murray, to combine for 9-for-38 shooting from the field tonight.
- Jonas Valanciunas recorded his fourth game with 20+ points and rebounds with 23 points and 23 rebounds to go with three blocks. Valanciunas posted 21 points and 20 rebounds by the end of the third quarter, becoming the first player in franchise history to register 20+ points and 20+ rebounds through the first three quarters of a regular season or postseason game. Valanciunas’ four performances with 20+ points and 20+ rebounds are the most by any player in the NBA this season.
- Dillon Brooks led the Grizzlies with 24 points, seven rebounds and three assists. The Grizzlies are now ---- when Brooks scores 20+ points.
- Ja Morant recorded 20 points, six rebounds and six assists. Morant made the game-clinching free throw to make it a two-score game in the final seconds.
- Kyle Anderson was active on both ends of the floor with nine points, six rebounds and four blocks.
- Dejounte Murray posted his fifth triple-double of his career (all have come this season) with 10 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists, however Memphis was able to limit him to 4-of-17 from the field.
- Rudy Gay added 20 points (8-21 FG) and seven rebounds in 27 minutes off the bench for San Antonio.