(AP) — MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The young Memphis Grizzlies have won a play-in game for the first time, but they’re far from pleased.
Memphis Grizzlies defeated San Antonio Spurs 100-96 in the first Western Conference play-in game on Wednesday night, with Dillon Brooks scoring eight of his 24 points in the fourth quarter to put Memphis up to stay.
Grizzlies guard Ja Morant remarked, “It feels wonderful, but we’re not in the playoffs yet.” “All I have to do now is turn the page.”
The Grizzlies will face the Golden State Warriors or Los Angeles Lakers for the No. 8 seed Friday night, with a first-round series against the top-seeded Utah Jazz beginning on Sunday.
Memphis is attempting to overcome a three-year postseason drought, which began with a loss to Portland in the NBA’s first play-in game last season.
Grizzlies centre Jonas Valnciunas said, “We still have one more in front of us.” “This is critical. The relevance is the same as it is tonight. It’ll be a do or die situation. That is how we develop our self-assurance. This is how we get experience.”
For Me, Valanciunas set a season high with 23 rebounds and 23 points.
The Spurs dropped their sixth straight game despite DeMar DeRozan and Rudy Gay each scoring 20 points. With 10 points, 13 rebounds, and 11 assists, Dejounte Murray recorded his seventh triple-double. Keldon Johnson had 11 points and Jacob Poeltl had ten.
Coach Gregg Popovich said he reminded his Spurs that he has never been prouder of a club that never gives up.
“They fight no matter what the mistakes are, no matter what the conditions are,” Popovich said. “That’s a solid foundation. As a result, I’m quite proud of how they carried themselves and how they played to win.”
With 6:55 remaining, the Spurs led 83-81 on Johnson’s 3-pointer. Brooks began his scoring run with the Grizzlies trailing 80-79, and his driving 5-footer with 5:57 remaining gave Memphis the lead for good, keeping the score at 85-83.
DeRozan stated, “We put ourselves in a hole early, but we fought our way back and won the game.” “If we let a couple of goods slide away from us, it will pain us.”
In the Grizzlies’ biggest home game since their previous playoff participation in 2017, against these same Spurs, Memphis pulled out all the stops in a blowout.
With a sellout of 7,019 fans inside the FedExForum, capacity was increased to 40%, and each seat had a yellow towel stating “NXT UP MEMPHIS.” During halftime, rapper Al Kapone performed outside and was broadcast on the video screen, with spectators waving towels while he sang “Whoop That Trick.”
Three of the four postseason series between these two clubs were swept by the Spurs. Memphis’ only series victory came in 2011 as the No. 8 seed, the Grizzlies’ first of seven consecutive playoff seasons.
Those players are no longer with us.
The Grizzlies’ next generation took over on this night, with a team that was the second-youngest at the start of the season, centred around Jackson, the No. 4 overall selection in 2018, and Morant, the No. 2 overall pick in 2019 and reigning NBA Rookie of the Year.
After the first quarter, the Grizzlies were up 38-19. Spurs responded with a 22-3 run to close the gap to 41-39. With a dunk, Morant put an end to Memphis’ cold spell, and the Grizzlies lead 56-49 at halftime.
In the third quarter, both teams scored 16 points, turning the game into a duel. Memphis went into the fourth quarter with a 72-65 lead.
Spurs: When behind after three quarters, San Antonio finished 7-32. Murray’s sixth triple-double was the most by a Spurs player since David Robinson in 1993-94. With five blocks, Poeltl matched his career high.
Memphis Grizzlies improved to 35-11 when leading after three quarters. During the second quarter, Valanciunas recorded his 50th double-double of the season. He also had his sixth career game with 20 points and 20 rebounds, as well as his fourth this season, which is the most in the NBA. With 11, only Zach Randolph has more in franchise history. With four blocks, Kyle Anderson tied his career high. Grayson Allen has returned to the lineup following a seven-game absence due to a left abdominal strain.
NIGHT OF THE BROOKS
“It’s just that I don’t enjoy losing. Spurs guard Lonnie Walker IV remarked, “I wanted to get to the playoffs.”
COMING UP NEXT
Popovich will have extra time to prepare for the Tokyo Olympics as head coach of the United States squad as the Spurs enter the offseason.