by Kevin Lipe
Last night, the Grizzlies played a much better game than in the first two games of their first round matchup against the San Antonio Spurs, but they still struggled to execute down the stretch of the fourth quarter, and lost at home to go down 0-3 for the series.
When I talked to Hubie Brown on Thursday, he told me the Grizzlies would have to play a perfect game on Friday to win, and that's almost what they did. Tony Allen was moved to the starting unit in place of Chris Andersen, giving the Grizzlies a much smaller look than they'd gone with in games 1 and 2, and that contributed to a solid start (which, in this series, means they were only down 8 after the first frame).
Led by scoring outbursts from Lance Stephenson and Xavier Munford, though really seven different guys scored points in the frame, the Grizzlies' second quarter was easily the best they've played in the whole series. They outscored the Spurs 25-18 in the second quarter to make it a one point game at halftime. The Spurs never really got their offense clicking last night, and Tony Parker (to pick the most obvious one) really didn't have a very good game. The Grizzlies defense hounded the Spurs relentlessly in a way they hadn't in the first two games, and at times, you could tell the crowd started to believe the Grizzlies could win—the energy changed in the building, and it started to feel like a real playoff game instead of a polite appearance to support the team.
The third quarter started a little rough, but the Griz quickly got their feet back under them, and an under-the-weather JaMychal Green made an appearance. Green was listed as probably with the dreaded "flu-like symptoms" before the game, but he fought through it, finishing with 10 points in 13 minutes, a perfect 5 for 5 from the field. Between Green and Matt Barnes making big buckets at crucial points, the Grizzlies finished the third with a 71-70 lead.
Speaking of the third quarter, failed mascot sidekick Natch the Black Bear showed up and ruined the birthday party of Grizz, so Grizz did this to him (and yes, I left out a "from" in this sentence, but I didn't feel like re-uploading the video):
Mascot demolition my vantage point. Memphis is insane. pic.twitter.com/eDKYiwdurd— Kevin Lipe (@FlyerGrizBlog) April 23, 2016