Grizzlies-Spurs Preview

After a left ankle injury hampered Manu Ginobili during the 2008

postseason and a fractured right ankle sidelined him during the

following year’s playoffs, the San Antonio Spurs were admittedly a

bit hesitant before signing the veteran guard to an extension last


So far, it’s proven to be a wise investment.

Ginobili and the NBA-best Spurs go for their eighth win in a row

overall and seventh straight at AT&T Center on Saturday night

when they face the Memphis Grizzlies, who stumbled to open their

two-game Texas trip.

With his contract ending following the 2009-10 season, Ginobili

proved that the injuries that limited him to 44 games in 2008-09

would not prevent him from playing a major role in the Spurs’

future. During an 11-game stretch prior to signing a three-year,

$39 million extension on April 9, Ginobili averaged 25.7 points and

6.1 assists and was one of the main reasons why San Antonio reached

its 13th consecutive postseason.

“It’s always good to have information that helps leads you to

make decisions,” Spurs general manager R.C. Buford said after the

deal was finalized.

Buford seems to have made the right decision. Ginobili leads San

Antonio (22-3) with a career-high 20.0 points per game, but more

importantly, continues to deliver with the game on the line.

After hitting a buzzer-beating jumper Wednesday to give the

Spurs a 92-90 victory over Milwaukee, the 33-year-old Argentina

native made a go-ahead runner with 4.2 seconds remaining before

taking a charge from Carmelo Anthony as time expired in Thursday’s

113-112 win in Denver.

“He’s a stud,” coach Gregg Popovich said of Ginobili. “He’s been

a competitor, he’s won championships here and overseas and he’s

been MVPs of things. He scored the two free throws down the

stretch, then he scored the winning bucket and then he took the

charge. That pretty much says it all about what he’s capable of


Hours after signing his deal last season, Ginobili scored a

team-high 26 points but the Spurs lost 107-99 to end their 10-game

home winning streak against Memphis.

The Grizzlies (12-15) would like a similar result as they make

the first of two visits to AT&T Center in 2010-11. Memphis,

though, is coming off one of its worst performances of the season,

scoring 33 first-half points in Friday’s 103-87 loss to


“We came in here to try to make a statement that we could play

with them, but they showed us that we haven’t matured enough and

gotten on the level that they’re on with their group,” coach Lionel

Hollins said.

That immaturity cost the Grizzlies with leading scorer Rudy Gay

suspended for this game for knocking down Rockets forward Luis

Scola in the fourth quarter and getting ejected for a flagrant-2


“I kind of let my anger get the best of me, and it’s not

characteristic of me or anybody else on this team,” Gay said. “Me,

as a leader, I probably shouldn’t have done that.”

The loss of Gay, who is averaging a team-high 21.0 points, could

be too much for Memphis to overcome as it faces a Spurs team

holding opponents to 93.0 points and 43.6-percent shooting from the

field during its seven-game win streak.

San Antonio is 23-6 all-time at home against the Grizzlies.