Spurs roll behind career night from Kawhi Leonard

A competitive game in the first-half turned into an absolute beating in the 2nd half as the San Antonio Spurs took game one in the best of seven in their first round series against the Memphis Grizzlies. The Grizzlies were without starting Shooting Guard Tony Allen who was out with a calf injury suffered in the final regular season game. The Grizzlies were also without Chandler Parsons who they paid to be a big part of this team. Persons had a season ending injury due to a torn meniscus. Head Coach David Fizdale said they are not expecting Allen to be available during this series. The 111-82 victory included Kawhi Leonard matched a playoff career high with 32 points. Leonard was 11-for-14 from the floor and 9-for-9 from the foul line. Tony Parker looked fresh and ready for playoff basketball, added 18 points and LaMarcus Aldridge added 20 points. The Grizzlies were lead by Marc Gasol who also had a playoff career high with 32 points, 25 came in the first-half which was a franchise playoff record. Mike Conley added 13-points all of which came in the first-half. Conley would go scoreless after the 8:40 in the 2nd quarter.

The Grizzlies started off hot hitting their first five shots and started 4-4 from the three-point line. Memphis would open up a 13-point lead in the first quarter .Marc Gasol and Mike Conley Jr. lead  the Grizzlies as Conley started the 1st quarter hot going 4-4 from the floor including 2-2 from the three-point line. The Spurs would go on to hit seven of their last eight shots to close the quarter to trim the lead to five by the end of the period. Kawhi Leonard started 5- for-5 in the first quarter to help keep the Spurs in striking distance.

The second quarter Gasol and Conley started off very aggressive with only Gasol putting points on the board. The Spurs took their first lead 32-31 at the nine minute mark. LaMarcus Aldridge got it going in the quarter as he hit 5-of-9 shots. Memphis would go on to shoot 29-percent from the floor in the second as well as no other player besides Gasol and Conley scoring over four points and lost the lead by quarters end trailing 52-49.

The start of the second half started slow for the Grizzlies as they took bad shots and had very little ball movement. They also went away from the one thing they had working the first half which was Marc Gasol. Memphis missed their first four shots of the third quarter but managed to only be down by seven. The Spurs shut down Mike Conley and slowed down Gasol to completely change the game. Parker, Leonard and Aldridge were the only Spurs players to score up until 6:40 left in the quarter. These three on the offensive end along with the Spurs great defense held the Grizzlies to 28-percent shooting in the quarter and a 84-64 lead.

The Spurs opened the 4th quarter with a 9-0 run to take a 93-64 lead and after that there was little to talk about as the final score was 111-82.

Mike Conley finished the game missing nine of his final 10 shots. Gasol only scored seven points in the second half and was held in check. The other three Memphis starters combined for just 12-points on 5-of-17 shooting. Zach Randolph who is a candidate for Six Man of the Year finished with just six points on 3-of-13 shooting.

With the win the Spurs continue to dominate Memphis in the playoffs as of late. The Grizzlies last postseason win over the Spurs came on April 29th, 2011 when they won 99-91. Leonard is a strong candidate for MVP after a career year where he averaged 25.5 points 3.5 assist 5.8 rebounds and 1.8 steals the first season since Tim Duncan retired. Tony Parker after a down season looked great in game one. He attacked the basket and knocked down jumpers. If he continues to play this well this is going be a short series for the Grizzlies. Danny Green only scored two points but had a great game defensively finishing with four blocks as he was the primary defender on Mike Conley the 2nd half.

Allen who is their best on ball defender was missed as he wasn’t available to cover Leonard or Parker. Fizdale played nine players in the opening quarter of play. Maybe look for him to shorten his rotation in game two. Also, look for Vince Carter and Zach Randolph to be more involved offensively in game two.

Game two is Monday in San Antonio at 9:30pm CT

Nate Ledsinger
Baseline Times NBA Staff Writer