San Antonio Spurs v Memphis Grizzlies - Game Three

NBA Playoffs: Zach Randolph and the most unlikely Spurs possession ever


With the home team who has never won a playoff game in Memphis up two in a pivotal Game 3 between the 4-time-in-the-last-12-years-champion San Antonio Spurs and the Memphis Grizzlies, where would this sequence rank in terms of likelihood ?

1. Zach Randolph hits a pull-up, contested 3-pointer.

2. Manu Ginobili answers with clutch free throws.

3. Randolph misses another pull-up jumper with time remaining.

4. George Hill grabs the rebound, and instead of calling timeout, which the Spurs had one, Hill instead takes off for half-court.

5. Hill throws it to Ginobili, who is trapped in the corner as Matt Bonner frantically calls for the ball instead of for timeout.

6. Tim Duncan comes roaring up the floor screaming for the timeout, which isn’t awarded because of the official not seeing it and coach Gregg Popovich not having called it.

7. Time expires, Grizzlies win, Memphis leads 2-1.

I’m thinking somewhere in the range of 1800-1 odds. Maybe. If we’re being generous.

Check it out.

Here’s the 3-pointer from Randolph, a career 28 percent shooter.

And here’s the final possession, which is just downright bizarre.

So that happened.

Memphis wins its first home playoff game in franchise history while the Spurs face a 2-1 deficit, which they’ve rallied back from once, and that wasn’t in a series where they blew home-court advantage. The Grizzlies are clutch, the Spurs are bumbling. Cats and dogs, living together, mass hysteria!

How did it get to that point?

The Grizzlies got back to what worked in Game 1. They pounded it inside. Randolph and Marc Gasol combined for 42 point and 14 rebounds, while Darrel Arthur added nine points and six boards. The difference in Games 2 and 3? The Grizzlies did a much better job with interior spacing, creating more room for passes and not getting bogged down. Throw in some effective cuts by guards and wings and you had an offense the Spurs couldn’t just bum rush with traps down low.

Ginobili was the would-be savior for the Spurs, causing havoc, and picking up six fouls on Tony Allen nearly all by himself. Ginobili finished with 23 points, five assists, and three turnovers, not counting the final possession. But the Grizzlies answered with … Shane Battier? (I told you it was a weird game.) Battier had nine points on 4-of-7 shooting, with most of them coming on post-ups of Ginobili. While Ginobili was able to get past Battier because of his speed, Battier used his size to overwhelm Ginobili. The Spurs most definitely did not see that one coming.

The Spurs had a stellar third-quarter performance to get back in the game after being down 10 at halftime. They outrebounded the Grizzlies 15-5. But down the stretch, the Grizzlies kept making plays by turning over the inexperienced point guard for the Spurs … Tony Parker? (Again, have I mentioned this game was weird?) Parker was stripped on several possessions and when that wasn’t happening, he was throwing it out of bounds.

So, just to recap. We live in a world where the Grizzlies have the advantage in a playoff series, where the Spurs don’t execute down the stretch, where Shane Battier is a beast in the post, and where Tony Parker has trouble in the clutch.

If you guys need me, I’ll be in the basement with bottled water and Spam.

Kevin Love unsure about opening-night return

Kevin Love
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He’s back in practice with the Cavaliers, but there’s still no clarity on whether Kevin Love will be available for the season opener. Love had shoulder surgery in April after suffering a torn labrum in Game 4 of the Cavs’ first-round series against the Celtics, and doctors initially gave him a timetable of four to six months for a return. The six-month end of that is right around opening night (October 27), but Love still doesn’t know whether he’ll be able to play against the Bulls—although he is hopeful.

Via the Sporting News‘ Sean Deveney:

“I feel pretty good,” Love told Sporting News. “As far as the opener goes, I am not completely sure. I’ll probably get with the doctors and see what they have to say. I know that my six-month post-op is coming up here pretty fast. As far as getting the strength back, getting the range of motion, I feel pretty good, so I am looking forward to getting into some more contact, getting into a rhythm and getting out there as quickly as I can.”

Love has been cleared for 3-on-3 practices, but not yet for 5-on-5. If it were up to him, he’d be back on the court, but he understands he needs to follow the rehab protocol for his injury.

“(Six months is) just a ballpark figure that has generally been thrown out there by anybody who has talked about the rehab process for this kind of an injury,” Love said. “I like to think that I am ahead of the game, but there’s different tests and the due diligence that the doctor will go through and the training staff will go through. So all I can do is go out there every day and attack my rehab and hopefully I will be able to go out there and help these guys as soon as possible.”

At the very least, the Cavs will be without Kyrie Irving (still recovering from knee surgery) and Iman Shumpert (out up to three months with a wrist injury), and probably Tristan Thompson too, unless his contract situation changes unexpectedly. So having Love available would be some much-needed good news. But it’s more important that Love (and everyone else) is healthy for the playoffs. If he’s not ready to play, there’s no need to rush back for an October game.

Greg Smith fails physical, will not join Pelicans

Greg Smith
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With both starter Omer Asik and backup Alexis Ajinca out injured for the rest of the preseason (and maybe a little longer), the Pelicans are looking for a center to put next to Anthony Davis for a stretch. That could include a handful of regular season games.

Greg Smith was going to be that man, but the 24-year-old failed his physical, reports the Times-Picayune.

The New Orleans Pelicans were set to sign power forward Greg Smith, but sources said Friday night that he failed his physical examination and will not be joining the team.

And so the search goes on.

The problem is, there are not quality big men still out there on the market, there is a limited supply and just about anyone worth having is spoken for. A few with non-guaranteed contracts may be waived as we get closer to the end of training camps, but that is likely a couple of weeks away.

With both Asik and Ajinca expected back in a few weeks, it’s not worth making a trade or some big move to bring in a center, the Pelicans are just going to have to live with what is out there.