After fast start, Griz crushed by Spurs
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.
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.
Spurs forward LaMarcus Aldridge shoots over Grizzlies forward Zach Randolph during Game 1 of their first-round playoff series on Saturday in San Antonio.