Spurs hand Grizzlies 10th consecutive loss
MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Rudy Gay spent his first seven seasons in the NBA with the Memphis Grizzlies, a period in which he evolved from a 19-year-old rookie into a key member of the starting five.
On Friday night in a 95-79 San Antonio Spurs win over the Grizzlies at FedExForum, Gay reminded the Memphis fans of the impact he can still have at age 31.
Gay, who began his career in Memphis in 2006, scored 18 points off the bench to help the Spurs to their fourth straight victory.
LaMarcus Aldridge led San Antonio with 22 points as the Spurs extended the Grizzlies’ losing streak to 10 games, the longest in the NBA this season and the longest by Memphis since losing 12 straight in January 2009.
Gay made 6 of 9 shots from the field and was instrumental in helping the Spurs pull away from the Grizzlies late in the first quarter and early in the second when he scored nine straight.
“I grew up here,” he said. “I came in as a 19-year-old kid. It’s good to come back and show (the fans) the player I’ve become.”
Slowed by injury earlier this season, Gay said performances like Friday night “let me know I can still go out there like I was before.”
Marc Gasol had 16 points and 13 rebounds to lead the Grizzlies and Ben McLemore scored a season-high 14. Chandler Parsons added 12 points.
Memphis shot 40.5 percent from the floor but was only 5 of 15 from beyond the arc. San Antonio shot 44 percent and was 11 of 27 from 3-point range.
The Spurs (15-7), who beat Memphis 104-95 on Wednesday night in San Antonio, pulled away from the Grizzlies in the fourth quarter and led by as many as 28 points down the stretch.
“That’s what bothers me most, how we laid down at the end of the game, especially on the defensive end,” Gasol said.
Gasol’s brother, Spurs forward Pau Gasol, was impressed by his team’s ability to handle several Grizzlies comeback tries and turn the game into a runaway.
“It was a pretty complete game on our part,” said Gasol, who also began his career with the Grizzlies.
Memphis (7-14) was hampered by a lackluster effort from starting guard Tyreke Evans, who had 22 points Wednesday but was limited to three points in 29 minutes and was only 1 of 7 from the field against San Antonio.
The Grizzlies haven’t won since beating the Portland Trail Blazers on Nov. 7 on the road.
“Everything we got was hard-earned,” Grizzlies interim coach J.B. Bickerstaff said. “We’ve got to find a way to generate easy baskets and that’s going to happen through our spacing and early tempo and cutting.
“You have to give the Spurs credit. They have a really good defensive team.”
The Spurs expect to get All-Star Kawhi Leonard back soon, a move that will be welcome. Leonard has not played this season because of a quadriceps injury.
“The quicker the better,” Pau Gasol said. “Hopefully, it will be smooth and organic.”
Memphis had an opportunity to trim the San Antonio lead to six points at the end of the third quarter, but a 3-pointer from Parsons came after the buzzer. The Spurs led 68-59 entering the fourth quarter.
With Parsons’ shot waved off, the Spurs resumed what became an 11-0 run that gave them a 75-59 lead early in the fourth.
With Evans not attempting a field goal in the first half, the Grizzlies fell behind 47-38 at the break.
NOTES: Grizzlies G Mike Conley said he likely will miss three more weeks with a sore left Achilles. Conley has not played since Nov. 15. “It’s tough,” he said. “Anything that has to do with your heel takes longer to heal. I just have to give it time.” The Grizzlies are 0-7 without Conley in the lineup this season. ... Spurs F Kawhi Leonard, out all season with a quadriceps injury, participated in his first practice with the full team during a Friday pregame shootaround at FedExForum. San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich continues to call Leonard’s return imminent but said he’ll err on the side of caution before re-activating him. ... G Mario Chalmers (knee), F Chandler Parsons (knee) and F-C Brandan Wright (groin) returned for the Grizzlies after being sidelined by injury. Parsons and Chalmers only missed Wednesday’s game in San Antonio while Wright sat out the previous five games. Wright, however, experienced tightness in his right groin in the first half and did not return in the second. ... Spurs F Pau Gasol, with more than 20,200 points in his career, and Grizzlies C Marc Gasol, approaching 10,000, are the second-highest scoring brother duo in NBA history. They trail Dominique and Gerald Wilkins, who combined for 38,404 points.