The Memphis Grizzlies are losers of nine straight games and are on their second coach of the season after firing David Fizdale on Monday and naming J.B. Bickerstaff as the interim head coach. Bickerstaff will try to earn his first win at the helm when the Grizzlies host the San Antonio Spurs in the back end of a home-and-home set on Friday.
Memphis did not make any drastic improvements in its first game under Bickerstaff and was held below 100 points for the sixth straight game while struggling to defend in a 104-95 loss at San Antonio on Wednesday. “Every night we show up, you can guarantee (the players are) going to give you what they got,” Bickerstaff told reporters. “That’s the only way you’ll get out of it. If you’re down on yourself and feeling sorry for ourselves, no one is coming to save us. The only way we’ll get out of it is we’ll tighten up in that room in there, which we’ve done. We’ll band together, go keep competing and the opportunity will come, and we’ll get our win.” To get that win, the Grizzlies will have to find a way to stop Spurs power forward LaMarcus Aldridge. The veteran had his way with the Memphis front line on Wednesday while going off for 41 points on 17-of-24 shooting.
TV: 8 p.m. ET, FS Southwest (San Antonio), FS Southeast (Memphis)
ABOUT THE SPURS (14-7): Aldridge is on fire of late and is 30-of-43 from the floor in the last two games, including 3-of-3 from 3-point range, and didn’t miss a free throw in any of the last five contests. Aldridge figures to get some help with the scoring load eventually from All-Star Kawhi Leonard, who is inching back from a quad injury and has yet to make his season debut, but for now seems comfortable as the main piece. Tony Parker (quad) is on a minutes limit two games into his own return from a quad injury but managed 10 points in 18 minutes during Wednesday’s win.
ABOUT THE GRIZZLIES (7-13): Memphis general manager Chris Wallace was adamant that the team is not in a rebuilding mode with the firing of Fizdale, and he has no plans to shop stars Marc Gasol or Mike Conley. “We’re full speed ahead,” Wallace told ESPN.com. “We’ve been in the playoffs seven years in a row. We’ve got a team when fully healthy and we get everything together is more athletic, more versatile and more potent offensively than we’ve had for a number of years. Even though the going has been a little difficult early, there’s still 62 (games) to play. We believe in this team. We’re hoping — got our fingers crossed — that we’ll get everybody healthy soon.” The biggest missing piece is Conley, who sat out the last seven games with an Achilles injury but is expected back in 2-3 weeks.
1. Grizzlies SF Chandler Parsons (knee soreness) sat out Wednesday and is day-to-day.
2. Spurs SF Kyle Anderson scored in double figures in each of the last six games.
3. San Antonio took the last three regular-season meetings and won once at Memphis during the first round of the playoffs last spring — a 103-96 triumph in the clinching Game 6.
PREDICTION: Spurs 108, Grizzlies 102