Spurs-Grizzlies Preview

With three consecutive victories, the San Antonio Spurs have

seemed to emerge from their recent slump.

The Spurs will attempt to continue that surge Saturday night

against the Memphis Grizzlies, who are trying to avoid their

longest home losing streak since moving from Canada.

Losers in 11 of 19 entering this week, San Antonio (35-24) has

bounced back by beating its past three opponents by an average of

10.7 points, including a 102-91 home win over New Orleans on Friday


Balanced offensive efforts have keyed the Spurs’ turnaround, and

Tony Parker was one of seven players in double figures Friday with

20 points.

Despite battling an ailing ankle and hip, Parker has averaged

18.0 points on 60.5 percent shooting in the past three games. The

team needs the veteran guard to play well down the stretch – 17 of

its final 23 games are against winning teams and 15 of them are on

the road.

“It’s a real double-edge sword,” coach Gregg Popovich said.

“He’s got to work to get in shape, but at the same time, he can’t

exacerbate the ankle or the hip situation.”

San Antonio has averaged 107.0 points and shot 51.5 percent over

its last three games after averaging 97.2 points and shooting 43.1

percent in its previous 19. The Spurs have also had at least six

players reach double figures during its current win streak.

They also had six players score at least 11 points in a 104-97

home win over the Grizzlies on Jan. 29. However, only three players

had more than nine in their previous trip to Memphis, a 92-86 loss

Jan. 16.

Duncan once again led the way with 23 points, but Grizzlies

center Zach Randolph matched his output and had 15 rebounds.

Randolph enters Saturday averaging 24.7 points and 13.4 rebounds

in the past seven games, and posted a franchise-record 43rd

double-double this season as his team rallied for a 105-96 win in

Chicago on Thursday night.

Memphis trailed by 17 midway through the second quarter but

pulled away by outscoring the Bulls 29-16 in the final period.

“Zach just had a great game all around,” coach Lionel Hollins

told the league’s Web site. “We had our energy pick up in the

second quarter and focused better. We were able to get out and run

on them.”

Randolph has helped the Grizzlies (32-30) to a franchise-record

six consecutive road victories, but they’ve dropped seven straight

at home since beating the Los Angeles Lakers 95-93 on Feb. 1.

A lackluster offense has plagued Memphis at FedEx Forum, where

it’s averaged 91.3 points – 10.8 below its overall season average –

during a seven-game home losing streak.

The Grizzlies haven’t dropped eight in a row at home since Dec.

26, 1997-Jan. 11, 1998, when they were in Vancouver. In their

inaugural 1995-96 season, they set a franchise record with 11

straight defeats.

However, Memphis will get plenty of chances to avoid matching

that mark as it plays six of its next eight at home. After facing

San Antonio, the Grizzlies will also host the league’s worst team,

New Jersey, on Monday night.

To beat the Spurs, they’ll likely need to focus on slowing down

Duncan, who has averaged 23.1 points in his career against Memphis.

That average is his second highest against any opposing team in his

career, trailing only his 23.7 points per game versus Orlando.