The Memphis Grizzlies and San Antonio Spurs certainly will understand what to expect from each other when they play the second of back-to-back games against each other on Friday at the FedEx Forum in Memphis, Tenn.
The Grizzlies just hope they can find a way to reverse the results of their recent game against the Spurs. If they do, they would end their longest losing skid in eight years, nine games.
The Spurs beat Memphis 104-95 on Wednesday in San Antonio behind a season-high 41 points from LaMarcus Aldridge, nine of which came down the stretch when San Antonio was able to put away a determined and desperate Grizzlies team.
Aldridge’s performance was his best in the regular season in the three years he has played for the Spurs and his fourth 30-plus-point game of the season. Aldridge had 41 points in a playoff game in 2016 against the Oklahoma City Thunder in his first year in San Antonio.
“It’s been the same all year — LaMarcus has been an All-Star,” San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich said. “The defensive end, the offensive end, being a leader, everything combined. He’s been fantastic, and he did it again tonight.”
The Spurs (14-7), who won their third straight game and fifth in their past six outings, also got 13 points form Patty Mills and 10 points apiece from Kyle Anderson and Tony Parker.
“We’ve shown in patches this season how well we can defend and how we can guard,” Mills said. “The challenge is always to see how consistent we can be over 48 minutes. We get ourselves in some holes and we make some errors, but the best thing about it is we can fix it, because it’s on us.”
Meanwhile, the Grizzlies have not won since a road victory at Portland on Nov. 7. The swoon led to the firing Monday of coach David Fizdale, who has been replaced on an interim basis by J.B. Bickerstaff.
“I think we are a group that won’t give up,” Bickerstaff said about his team. “They won’t give; they won’t give in. They’re fighters by nature. Every night we show up you can guarantee they’re going to give you what you got. That’s the only way we will get out of this (slump). We’ll band together, go keep competing, and the opportunity will come and we’ll get our win.”
Tyreke Evans led the Grizzlies (7-13) with 22 points on Wednesday, with James Ennis III and Andrew Harrison contributing 15 and 13 points, respectively, off the bench. Ben McLemore and Marc Gasol scored 10 points each.
“It’s tough right now, but we continue to play hard as a team every game,” Evans said. “Things just didn’t go our way, but we have to fight through it. It’s my job to provide positive energy on the bench and keep everyone focused so that we can get back on track.”
Memphis is 0-7 without point guard Mike Conley this season after going 7-6 without Conley last year. Conley is sidelined due to an Achilles injury.
Gasol (3,732) passed Zach Randolph (3,731) as the all-time franchise leader for field goals made. All eyes were on Gasol because of the perception that he had a hand in Fizdale’s firing, a notion that Gasol disputed on Wednesday.
“This game was something we can build on,” Gasol said. “Some of the mistakes that were made, now you can coach them. In the previous games, a lot of the mistakes we were making were hard to coach. It’s a lot of indecisive doubt among guys, and when guys have doubt, it seems like they’re not giving the effort. But (Wednesday) everybody was on the same page.”
The Grizzlies failed to score 100 points for a sixth straight game and for the seventh time during their skid. All five Memphis starters finished with a negative plus/minus rating.