Memphis Grizzlies v San Antonio Spurs - Game One

Spurs/Grizzlies preview: Game 2 will be closer, but will that be enough for Memphis?

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Game 2 is not going to look like Game 1.

Memphis is not going to get its doors blown off from the opening tip as happened in their Game 1 loss. You can expect better pick and roll defense out of Memphis. You can also expect better ball movement and more Zach Randolph. You can expect the kinds of adjustments out of Lionel Hollins and his staff that had them losing the first games of the last two series and still going on to advance. You can also expect the Spurs will miss a shot or two, they will not stay as hot shooting (14-of-29 from three) as they did in Game 1.

But will all that be enough against the Spurs remains to be seen?

San Antonio found what worked and it’s on the Grizzlies to raise their level enough in Game 2 in San Antonio Tuesday to get a split in the series.

That has to start on defense, where the Spurs carved up the Grizzlies on the pick-and-roll. Notice that one thing the Spurs did was use whatever big man was not being guarded by Marc Gasol to come up and set the initial pick — San Antonio schemed to keep the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year away from the ball. Smart. It left Randolph and Darrell Arthur as the bigs trying to show out on Parker, or it left Mike Conley trying to fight over the top of the pick. The result was Parker having space, the Grizzlies collapsing on him and ending up in a scramble. Then Memphis paid the price.

On offense, the Grizzlies need more Zach Randolph, but to make that work he may need to start the game as a decoy — other guys will have to hit shots.

The Spurs fronted and denied passing lanes to Randolph, then brought help off of the corners to double him — Memphis never swung the ball quickly to the open men to make them pay. Memphis hesitated and the Spurs defense reset.

They need better ball movement this time and some guys are going to have to knock down outside shots — Tayshaun Prince, we’re looking at you — to space out the floor. Do that, slow the help and Randolph will have room to operate and do damage.

What that all boils down to is you can expect a tougher, grittier, grindier (sure, that’s a word) Memphis team on Tuesday night.

But you can also expect the Spurs to execute like the well-oiled machine they are. They will still share the ball and guys will get looks. And that may still be too much for Memphis (expect Tim Duncan to have more than 6 points this time).

Lou Williams hits halfcourt buzzer-beater (video)

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Yeah, the Lakers lost to the Rockets, 134-95, Wednesday. But consider how lopsided that margin would’ve been without Lou Williams‘ halfcourt buzzer-beater.

And if this headline looks familiar, it is.

LeBron James, Cavaliers do water-bottle challenge on bench during blowout win over Knicks (video)

Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James, left, and Cavaliers forward Richard Jefferson entertain themselves by flipping a water bottle trying to get it to land on it's flat bottom during the fourth quarter of an NBA basketball game against the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden in New York, Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2016. The Cavaliers defeated the Knicks 126-94, and most starters left the game for the bench at the end of the fourth quarter. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
AP Photo/Kathy Willens
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LeBron James did his part – scoring 25 points (on just 10 shots!), dishing seven assists and grabbing six rebounds – to give the Cavaliers an insurmountable lead over the Knicks through three quarters. So, he didn’t even play in the fourth quarter.

As Cleveland put the finishing touches on its 126-94 win, boredom set it. LeBron and a few of his teammates tried to flip a water bottle and have it land upright on the floor. LeBron even dove onto the court to pull the bottle back in after an errant flip!

No, Phil Jackson should not have used the word “posse” to describe LeBron’s business associates and friends. But this is the most disrespectful thing I’ve ever seen – and I love it.

DeMarcus Cousins says Mavericks’ rumored interest flatters him, but he loves Kings

Sacramento Kings center DeMarcus Cousins (15) receives a blow to the head from Dallas Mavericks' Dwight Powell as Cousins works to get to the basket in the first half of an NBA basketball game, Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2016, in Dallas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez
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The Mavericks’ long-rumored interest in DeMarcus Cousins took its most direct public turn before the season, when Dallas signed Cousins’ brother, Jaleel Cousins. Jaleel is now on the Mavericks’ D-League affiliate, and I bet he will remain there as DeMarcus approaches 2018 free agency.

Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News:

So, DeMarcus Cousins, what do you think about the Mavericks’ long-rumored interest in acquiring you?

“It’s flattering,” Cousins told me, with a laugh, after the Kings’ Wednesday shootaround at AAC. Then, turning serious, he added of the Mavericks, “I respect them.”

“But,” I said, “I’ve also heard that you like it in Sacramento.”

“No,” Cousins corrected, “I love Sacramento.”

Cousins is getting good at this, toeing the line between appreciating another team’s interest and expressing his satisfaction with the Kings.

And give Cousins credit. He keeps producing at a star level for a team that hasn’t provided him with the proper support. Sacramento again appears headed toward the lottery, even as Cousins averages 29-10.

Questions remain, though: How much of Cousins’ attitude is him trying to make the best of an inescapable situation, and will expanded options in the summer of 2018 test his loyalty?

LeBron James dunks, struts past camerapeople and toward crowd, spooks fan (video)

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LeBron James is dominating, and the Cavaliers are rolling over the Knicks.

It’s almost as if something has LeBron particularly riled up. But maybe ease up a little? That cowering fan isn’t Phil Jackson.