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With both eliminated from playoffs, Spurs take on Grizzlies

Mar 19, 2024; San Antonio, Texas, USA;  San Antonio Spurs guard Malaki Branham (22) dribbles against Dallas Mavericks forward Tim Hardaway Jr. (10) in the second half at Frost Bank Center. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Dunn-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Daniel Dunn-USA TODAY Sports

The San Antonio Spurs host the swooning and short-handed Memphis Grizzlies on Friday in a game between two Western Conference teams that are playing out the string.

Memphis (23-47) and San Antonio (15-54) have been eliminated from postseason consideration. Injuries and suspensions derailed the season for the Grizzlies, who were expected to be far better, while the Spurs are in a complete rebuilding mode despite the presence of likely Rookie of the Year Victor Wembanyama on the roster.

Memphis has won 12 straight games against the Spurs dating to January 2021.

Of the two struggling teams, San Antonio has played better of late, even with a 113-107 loss at home to surging Dallas on Tuesday. Tre Jones led the Spurs with 22 points, with Devin Vassell adding 19, Keldon Johnson 14 off the bench, and Jeremy Sochan racking up 13 points, 10 rebounds and six assists. Wembanyama settled for 12 points (on 3-of-13 shooting), 11 rebounds, six blocks and three assists.

The Spurs rallied from seven points down after three quarters to take the lead and were still in front with 4:10 to play after Jones’ layup. Dallas then took charge and sent San Antonio to its fourth loss in its past five games.

“We had 16 turnovers — that was the difference in the game,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. “I couldn’t be more proud of the way we played. We had made all kinds of mistakes, but so did (Dallas) and they want to win a championship. Our goal is to get better every game individually and team-wise.”

San Antonio has three more games remaining in a season-long eight-game homestand and must win six of its final 13 contests to surpass the franchise’s all-time worst record of 20-62 set in 1997.

The Grizzlies head southeast after a 137-116 loss to Golden State in San Francisco on Wednesday. Memphis allowed 22 straight points in a stretch covering the end of the second quarter and the start of the third, turning a tied score into a runaway.

Rookie GG Jackson II canned seven 3-pointers for Memphis to aid his season-high 35-point performance, and Santi Aldama made six from deep while adding 27 points. Jaren Jackson Jr. scored 28 points for the Grizzlies, while Jake LaRavia had 12 off the bench and DeJon Jarreau matched his career high with 10 rebounds.

Memphis, which has dropped four straight games and six of its past seven, attempted 49 3-pointers in the loss.

The Grizzlies played without the injured Ja Morant, Brandon Clarke, Derrick Rose and Marcus Smart, among others. Memphis has had 29 players participate in a game this season, a franchise record.

“Our guys aren’t hanging their head,” Memphis coach Taylor Jenkins said. “We’ve been dealing with this all season long, literally from the very first game in the season. Our guys have weathered so many storms. So no matter who’s out there, guys are seizing every opportunity, they’re playing extremely hard, they’re working through the mistakes and finding the successes. They’re trying to find chemistry and consistency.”

–Field Level Media

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