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Spurs begin seven-game road trip, battle surging Grizzlies

Sportsnaut
Dec 27, 2021; San Antonio, Texas, USA;San Antonio Spurs guard Tre Jones (33) dribbles against Utah Jazz guard Mike Conley (11) in the second half at the AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Dunn-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 27, 2021; San Antonio, Texas, USA;San Antonio Spurs guard Tre Jones (33) dribbles against Utah Jazz guard Mike Conley (11) in the second half at the AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Dunn-USA TODAY Sports

The San Antonio Spurs begin a seven-game road trip over the next two weeks when they square off against the surging Memphis Grizzlies in Memphis on Friday in a Western Conference battle.

The Spurs head to Memphis after their scheduled game at home against Miami on Wednesday was postponed because the injury- and COVID-depleted Heat could not field the required eight players. It was the 10th game COVID-related postponed by the NBA so far this season. None of those games have been rescheduled to date.

“It’s not like we are the Lone Ranger,” San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich said. “Every team is going through it, so we all have to deal with it. It’s unfortunate, but it’s part of our lives.”

San Antonio’s most recent game was a 110-104 home loss to Utah on Monday, the second of a home back-to-back, that snapped the Spurs’ three-game winning streak.

Derrick White’s 21 points led six Spurs players in double-figure scoring in the loss to Utah. Doug McDermott added 17 points, Keldon Johnson and Devin Vassell hit for 13 each, Lonnie Walker IV poured in 11 and Jakob Poeltl tallied 10 rebounds and 13 rebounds.

Dejounte Murray missed his second straight contest for the Spurs after entering the league’s health and safety protocols on Sunday. He did not make the trip to Memphis, and there is no timeline for his return.

“They just tell me when he’s ready,” Popovich said about Murray. “The rules change. I don’t spend too much time trying to figure it out. We’ve got a lot of guys around here who are right on top of that.”

After Friday’s game, the Spurs play six straight on the road against Eastern Conference teams.

The Grizzlies have won three straight, including a come-from-behind 104-99 victory at home over the Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday. Ja Morant scored a season-high 41 points with a career-best six 3-pointers in the win. His output included 25 points after halftime and 11 of Memphis’ final 15 points.

Morant also took 10 rebounds in the victory, the Grizzlies’ 13th in their past 17 games.

“What an unbelievable night by Ja,” Memphis coach Taylor Jenkins said. “When he got going it kind of fueled everyone else. We’ve said it from Day 1 — he’s built for moments like this.”

Desmond Bane added 20 points and Jaren Jackson Jr. hit for 15. Memphis only got 16 points from its bench and played without Dillon Brooks, John Konchar, Jarrett Culver and De’Anthony Melton, who are all in the league’s health and safety protocol.

Memphis trailed for most of the first three quarters but outscored the Lakers by 10 in the fourth.

“We knew we just had to come out and continue to play, continue to take those shots with confidence,” Morant said. “That is what we did, and the game completely turned around. As we got going, I got going, and we got a win.”

This is the first of four scheduled games between the two teams this season. The Grizzlies have won two straight in the series but have dropped the past two contests played in Memphis.

–Field Level Media