The Memphis Grizzlies already have earned a home series in the first round of the NBA playoffs and can cement the No. 2 seed in the West when they square off against the surging Spurs on Wednesday in San Antonio.
The Grizzlies (53-23) head to San Antonio after a dominating 123-95 home win over shorthanded Golden State on Monday. Desmond Bane paced Memphis with 22 points in the win while De’Anthony Melton and Dillon Brooks added 21 each, Kyle Anderson had 13 and Brandon Clarke tallied 12 points.
The Grizzlies were up just 20-16 after a ragged first quarter then all but decided the game in the second, after which they led 63-37 despite playing without Ja Morant and Jaren Jackson Jr. Memphis is now 18-2 this season without Morant.
“We were a little sloppy (in the first quarter),” Memphis coach Taylor Jenkins said afterward. “It was really just finding our footing. With our group, when we start rolling, we can start rolling.”
The victory, Memphis’ fifth straight and nine in its past 10 outings, allowed the Grizzlies to expand their lead over Golden State to five games in the race for second place in the West with six games to play. Memphis will clinch the No. 2 seed with another win or a Golden State loss.
Part of the Grizzlies’ success this year is due to the play of its second unit, which plays a league-leading 98.5 minutes per game. Only four other teams average more than 95.
“They talk about what they got to do going out there every single night to set a tone offensively, defensively, and with their spirit,” Jenkins said of his reserves.
The Spurs (31-44) head home carrying a four-game winning streak after holding off Houston 123-120 on Monday. San Antonio’s recent surge has it in 11th place and deep in the running for the final play-in spot in the West with seven games to play.
Dejounte Murray racked up a career-high 33 points and distributed 11 assists in Monday’s victory, which allowed the Spurs to go 4-0 on a road trip that also stopped in San Francisco, Portland and New Orleans.
“They bust their butts. They play to win,” San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich said about his team after the win. “They did a great job. We hung in there, and we got it done so I am proud of the guys.”
Keldon Johnson added 21 points for San Antonio, with Jakob Poeltl producing a 17-point, 13-rebound double-double, Josh Richardson scoring 15 points and Zach Collins hitting for 13. The Spurs ruled the paint, forging a 72-30 edge in points in the lane.
San Antonio led by a dozen points heading to the final quarter but escaped when a last-second Rockets’ 3-pointer rolled around and out.
“That’s the next part of development and growth — being able to hold your composure when you’re up big in games like that,” Murray said. “Execute. The little things. Talking on defense. Just staying mature.”
Key reserve Lonnie Walker IV missed his fourth straight game for San Antonio because of a lower back injury.