Af­ter fast start, Griz crushed by Spurs

The Commercial Appeal - - Sports - COLUM­NIST GE­OFF CALKINS

SAN AN­TO­NIO — For a while, it was glo­ri­ous.

For a while, Marc Ga­sol was hit­ting shots, and Mike Con­ley was hit­ting shots, and the San An­to­nio fans were sit­ting silent, and it felt like 2011 all over again. And then? And then it felt like 2004, 2013 or 2016 all over again.

The Spurs, do­ing any­thing they wanted. The Griz­zlies, ut­terly over­matched.

And those Spurs fans spilling out into the San An­to­nio night, cel­e­brat­ing a 111-82 win over the

Griz­zlies in Game 1 and the re­sound­ing 48-minute re­minder that they have the deeper and bet­ter team.

That’s the hard re­al­ity for the Griz­zlies in the wake of this pub­lic flog­ging. They sim­ply don’t have the play­ers to match up with the Spurs.

Oh, they have a cou­ple play­ers who can match up with any­one. They have Con­ley and Ga­sol.

Ga­sol was mag­nif­i­cent in this one. He fin­ished with 32 points, a new play­off high. But be­yond that?

The Griz­zlies have a backup point guard in An­drew Har­ri­son who is a mar­ginal NBA player.

They have a shut-down de­fender in Tony Allen who is out with a bum leg.

And they have bench that got ut­terly de­stroyed.

The Griz­zlies came out fly­ing, hit­ting ev­ery­thing, tak­ing a 22-9 lead 5:15 left in the first quar­ter.

Then let’s go straight to the play-by­play, for the ex­pla­na­tion as to what hap­pened next. It reads, “SUB: HAR­RI­SON FOR CON­LEY.”

Just like that, the game flipped. When Har­ri­son checked out 4:09 later, the Griz­zlies lead was down to five.

The Griz­zlies bench was outscored 13-2 in the first half. But there are uglier num­bers than that. Zach Ran­dolph was -39 for the game. Troy Daniels was -29 and James En­nis was -28.

As long as Ga­sol and Con­ley were su­per­hu­man, the Griz­zlies could keep up. But when Con­ley stopped be­ing su­per­hu­man — he scored 10 points in the first quar­ter, then went 1-of-10 for the rest of the game — the Griz­zlies were toast.

Mean­while, Allen had to be in agony watch­ing the pro­ceed­ings, as Kawhi Leonard (32 points) went wher­ever he liked.

So this was ef­fec­tively over by the end of the third quar­ter, when the Spurs led by 84-64.

That’s when the na­tional broad­cast cap­tured Griz­zlies coach David Fiz­dale in the hud­dle, talk­ing to his team.

“I DON’T CARE WHAT THE SCORE IS, YOU COM­PETE EV­ERY MINUTE,” Fiz­dale yelled.

It was a sad and fa­mil­iar lament, a Griz­zlies coach urg­ing his play­ers to ig­nore the score­board in a play­off game against the Spurs. If only the rest of us could.

SOOBUM IM/USA TO­DAY SPORTS

Griz­zlies cen­ter Marc Ga­sol drives to the bas­ket as Spurs small for­ward Kawhi Leonard and LaMar­cus Aldridge, right, de­fend dur­ing Game 1 of their first-round play­off se­ries on Satur­day in San An­to­nio. The Spurs won 111-82.

ERIC GAY/AP

Spurs for­ward LaMar­cus Aldridge shoots over Griz­zlies for­ward Zach Ran­dolph dur­ing Game 1 of their first-round play­off se­ries on Satur­day in San An­to­nio.

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