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While all of last night's pre-game buzz centered on the return of Rudy Gay after missing last season's playoff run for the Memphis Grizzlies, San Antonio Spurs guard Manu Ginobili showed that Memphis didn't exactly get him at full strength either.
Ginobili led the Spurs with 24 points and five rebounds in a big opening game win. Be sure to read Paul Garcia's full recap if you missed the game.
Jeff Garcia talked to Josh Coleman of 3 Shades of Blue before last night's game. Here's what he had to say about who would win the opener.
As much as I'd love to say that the Grizzlies start the season off with a win, the fact is that they ALWAYS lose the first game of the year. Having to play in San Antonio after beating them in the playoffs last postseason will only give their opponent that much more of an incentive, so I think the Spurs probably wind up winning a close one, with Ginobili coming through with some late-game clutchness to seal it.
While the Spurs didn't need Ginobili to be clutch late in the game as they had a comfy lead late in the game, he was a big reason the Spurs were able to start the season 1-0.
"I didn't tell him anything. Good thing he made it. He made me look good. It was one of those plays that happens every once and a while. It was a good play."
-Manu Ginobili on his slick behind the back dish to Kawhi Leonard for a 3-pointer.
By the numbers
16-0: The Spurs' third quarter run, punctuated by a Kawhi Leonard three-pointer.
9 - Number of points James Anderson scored in 20 minutes.
2 - Number of steals and blocks Tiago Splitter had, in addition to his 5 points and 8 rebounds.
3 of 8 - Grizzlies forward Zach Randolph's shooting from the field.
Kawhi Leonard finished his first NBA game with six points, six rebounds and two steals in only 13 minutes in his pro debut. While Leonard struggled offensively, he was very active on both sides of the floor and didn't mind mixing it up down low to pull rebounds away from the Grizzlies' bigs.
Cory Joseph checked in for the first time in the game with 1:16 remaining in the fourth quarter. He may play more minutes on Wednesday against the Clippers if Popovich wants to try to limit Chris Paul when Tony Parker heads to the bench.
Only Tony Parker played more minutes than Tiago Splitter last night and with Antonio McDyess gone and only he and Matt Bonner backing up Tim Duncan and DeJuan Blair, Splitter will continue to get big minutes. It looks like he also has the trust of Popovich, who said Splitter was "real special" last night. Splitter finished the game with five points, eight rebounds, two blocks and two steals. He was active on the boards and defended Marc Gasol well. If you're in a deep league and you need a player that'll help rack up some defensive numbers, I would add him or definitely watch list him.
I think that part of the reason for the big hole at the 4-5 spot is old winter shoes. With only 3 other 4-5's on the roster and bonner being more of a large wing 3 than a true 4-5, the spurs deffinetly need another big or two.
This game punctuated one thing you guys failed to mention in this write up, how screwed we are if foul trouble happens with the bigs. Spurs didn't really pull things together until the second half, when we got half of our big man rotation back. We desperately need a 5th big, send Joseph down to the d-league and get us someone RC.
It's just the beginning of hard work for the spurs. Almost all the teams in the west have big men. Jefferson did well and Leonard justified his high draft. Blair finished with 3 and Splitter rebounded and finished wih 5. How long will Blair and Splitter hold? With TD playing limited minutes, the interior remains a concern. The team has only 13 and it will be nice if they sign pf/c and ease the pressure on TD. Good work spurs!