Spurs-Grizzlies Preview


The Memphis Grizzlies are back home after dropping the final three games of a frustrating road trip.

The San Antonio Spurs have had plenty of their own struggles on the road, both this season and their nightmarish trips to Memphis in last year's regular season and playoffs.

The two teams try to shake off their respective recent losses Monday night at FedEx Forum, where the Spurs were unceremoniously bounced from the first round of last postseason.

Memphis (10-9) is still seeking consistency without injured forward Zach Randolph (knee), who hasn't played since New Year's Day. The Grizzlies have dropped three straight on the heels of a seven-game winning streak, falling 86-84 Saturday night at Phoenix to wrap up a four-game trip.

Mike Conley had 15 points and 10 assists for the Grizzlies, but he also missed a potential game-winning 3-pointer in the final seconds. Memphis used a zone defense to claw back from a 16-point halftime deficit and tie the game twice in the final 1:24, but couldn't complete the comeback.

"There's no such thing as moral victories,'' said Tony Allen, who finished with 10 points in 22 minutes. "We just have to figure out how to get it done down the stretch.''

Center Marc Gasol has tried to pick up the slack down low in Randolph's absence, averaging 15.3 points on 50.8 percent shooting with 10.8 rebounds in those 15 games. However, the Grizzlies' shooting touch has deserted them during their current skid.

Memphis has shot 28.6 percent from 3-point range and 38.8 percent overall while averaging 86.3 points in the last three losses, well off their marks of 41.7 percent shooting from beyond the arc and 49.6 percent overall while they averaged 102.0 points during a seven-game winning streak earlier this month.

That was the offense that exploited San Antonio at FedEx in 2010-11, averaging 102.8 points and shooting 50.5 percent as the Grizzlies won both regular-season home meetings before taking all three in the postseason to send the 61-win Spurs packing. Gasol averaged 12.7 points and 10.3 rebounds in the three playoff wins while making 16 of 29 shots.

Using a zone defense may be dangerous against the Spurs (12-9), who made 12 of 25 3-point attempts in a 101-100 overtime loss at Dallas on Sunday night. Gary Neal had three of those 3-pointers for San Antonio, with coach Gregg Popovich nearly riding his reserves - who totaled 55 points - to victory after they had erased an 18-point third-quarter deficit.

"We were just on fire shooting 3s and it got us back in the game. It's as simple as that. I thought the energy defensively was great; we double-teamed everywhere,'' Popovich said. "They were playing great. There's no sense in taking them off the court.''

San Antonio ranks third in the league with 162 3-pointers made, going 6-2 when it makes at least 10 in a game. The Spurs, who shot a woeful 21.8 percent from 3-point range (12 for 55) in their three losses at Memphis last postseason, have made 46.3 percent of their long-range attempts (37 for 80) in their last four games overall.

Richard Jefferson and Manu Ginobili - still out with a broken hand - each made three 3-pointers as San Antonio hit 10 in its 95-82 home victory over Memphis on Dec. 26 to open the season. Ginobili had 24 points to lead the Spurs, who scored 28 points off 24 Memphis turnovers.