MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP)—There wasn’t much Gregg Popovich could say to justify the play of his San Antonio Spurs.
Popovich spent a mere 38 seconds breaking down San Antonio’s 109-93 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies on Tuesday night.
San Antonio was stymied by 22 turnovers in the game, one short of a season high.
“It wasn’t just the turnovers, it was the offensive boards along with the lack of focus,” Popovich said in his brief postgame appearance before closing with: “It was a disappointing night, and that’s not something to be proud of.”
Of the Spurs’ turnovers, 11 came on Memphis steals, four by Randolph.
“That’s what we do,” Memphis coach Lionel Hollins said. “… We’re helping and recovering, and then helping the guy who helped recover. Sometimes we’re all over the court, and it looks like mayhem, but then we get a deflection and a steal.”
Gary Neal(notes) was the only Spur to finish in double figures with 14 points. Starters Tim Duncan(notes), Manu Ginobili(notes) and DeJuan Blair(notes) had nine points apiece, as they sat out the fourth quarter.
The Spurs (49-11) were playing their first game without starting point guard Tony Parker(notes), who is expected to miss two to four weeks after suffering a strained left calf when the Spurs beat Memphis 95-88 on Saturday night.
“His is our leader on the court,” Ginobili said of Parker. “He’s the one that makes the decisions and calls the plays. He handles the pressure and creates for us, so he’s a pretty big part of who we are. If you add that with the fact that George (Hill) didn’t have a good game. I didn’t have a good game. (Duncan) didn’t have a good game. That makes it hard to win.”
The victory kept Memphis in the Western Conference’s last playoff spot. If the season ended today, the Grizzlies would face the Spurs, who own the best record in the NBA, in the opening round of the postseason. But Memphis doesn’t seem satisfied with just making the playoffs.
“We don’t want to get complacent or pat ourselves on the back yet,” Allen said. “We’re just trying to get better each and every day.
“We look at the standings every day, and we definitely want to move up. If the playoff ended today, we would play (the Spurs), but for the most part, we want to move up. We want to try and win every game. No matter how the standings fluctuate, we’ve still got to play hard.”
Memphis led 61-52 at the half as Randolph scored 13 points, and Allen added 10, part of Memphis shooting 61 percent.
San Antonio managed to hit 56 percent of its shots.
But the Spurs were uncharacteristically fumbling the ball without Parker to run the show. Memphis built the lead to 11 points with about 8 minutes left in the half after the Spurs’ ninth turnover.
San Antonio, which averages slightly more than 13 turnovers a game, already had 14 at the half, including five by Hill, filling in for Parker. Those mistakes led to a 16-4 Memphis advantage in fastbreak points for the half. Hill ended the night with six turnovers, and the Grizzlies held a 27-11 advantage in fastbreak points.
“We came out with great emotion and intensity,” Hollins said. “We were physical and aggressive. We kind of knocked them back on their heels. We kept attacking and attacking.”
While San Antonio struggled with its ball handling, Memphis faced its own problems in the first half when starting center Marc Gasol(notes) was ejected after receiving his second technical of the game with 5:12 left before intermission.
But Randolph held his own, and Arthur filled the void left by Gasol’s departure. That created matchup problems for San Antonio, and Duncan played only a little more than 7 minutes after halftime.
“Once we got running on them, they kind of bailed on (Duncan) and tried to go small to see what they could do,” Hollins said. “It was Darrell’s offense that really hurt them.”
The turnover problems also continued to plague the Spurs after halftime helping Memphis stretch its advantage to as many as 16 points. San Antonio didn’t have anyone reach double figures until Neal’s 12-foot floater with 1:50 left in the third period.
Memphis had matched its biggest lead of the game at the end of the third, carrying an 83-67 lead into the fourth.
Arthur hit a pair of jumpers to open the fourth as the lead reached 87-67, and Memphis continued to build the advantage as the Spurs starters watched from the bench.
Ginobili said the loss provided the Spurs with a glimpse of what they could face if the teams stayed in their respective positions in the West and faced each other in the opening round.
“They know they have a shot,” Ginobili said of Memphis. “They are young and very physical and athletic, and we are not precisely that.
“We have to do better with our brains.”
NOTES: The Spurs were 16-10 last season in games Parker missed. … Hill started in Parker’s place. It marked only the second time this season San Antonio has strayed from its regular lineup of Ginobili, Parker, Blair, Richard Jefferson(notes) and Duncan. Hill started for Ginobili on Feb. 12 at Washington. … The Spurs entered the game having won 18 of the past 22 in the series. … It didn’t take Popovich long to see something he didn’t like. He called timeout with only 54 seconds gone in the game. San Antonio would end up calling three in the first quarter. … Neal was active after missing the past two games with concussive symptoms. F Tiago Splitter(notes) also returned to action after missing seven games with a strained left hamstring.