San Antonio Spurs v Memphis Grizzlies - Game Four

New Grizzlies coach Dave Joerger says he’ll play starters less than Lionel Hollins did

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The Grizzlies didn’t overly rely on any single player last season. Marc Gasol played 35.0 minutes per game (32nd in the NBA), Mike Conley 34.5 (40th) and Zach Randolph 34.3 (45th).

But collectively, Memphis was extremely reliant on its starters

Just three other teams – the Warriors, 76ers and Trail Blazers, who had four – had as many players average so many minutes per game. After Feb. 1, when they replaced Rudy Gay with Tayshaun Prince, the Grizzlies played their starting lineup on the court together more than any team but the Thunder.

New Grizzlies coach Dave Joerger plans to change that. Via Ronald Tillery of The Commercial Appeal:

“I like our roster. I’m hoping we’ve created depth,” Joerger said. “I’m hoping Jerryd Bayless, Quincy Pondexter, Ed Davis and Kosta Koufos keep growing. If they do that and have a good year this year, then we have some really nice depth.

“We need those guys to make shots. They’ve got to play. And I’m looking forward to having that. I know what Mike Miller is going to give us from the perimeter. Hopefully, those other guys have a big year. I want the bench to be successful. It’s a long season and the West is a gauntlet.”

This is framed is a minute-allocation issue for the coach, but it’s really a player-development issue.

Memphis has a young bench, and at this point, it’s unclear just how large of roles Bayless, Pondexter, Davis and Koufos can handle – at least in Joerger’s eyes.

It’s easy for a coach to say he wants to play youngsters more. But when faced with a decision between the sometimes-erratic Pondexter and the always-dependable Prince, few coaches – Gregg Popovich being the notable exception – have the stomach to play Pondexter more. With their jobs seemingly always on the line, many coaches are risk averse.

So, if Joerger works with Memphis’ young players, helps improve their skills and sand the rough edges of their games, this problem will take care of itself. Otherwise, it will be a real test of Joerger’s fortitude.

Kobe Bryant with spin move around LeBron James (VIDEO)

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The game itself went about how you’d expect one between a title contender and a high lottery team to go — the Cavaliers 120-111 win over the Lakers was never really in doubt.

But the fans in Cleveland wanted to see some vintage Kobe Bryant, and they got it late when he spun around LeBron James and hit the reverse lay-up.

LeBron had 29 points on the night, and Kyrie Irving had 35. Kobe finished with 17 and got a standing ovation from the Cleveland crowd.

Suns’ Markieff Morris, Archie Goodwin get in scuffle on the bench

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Just another magical day in the Valley of the Sun, where clearly Jeff Hornacek was the problem….

During an early timeout in the Suns’ game at Golden State, Markieff Morris tried to explain something to Archie Goodwin, who is seated. This conversation gets heated quickly, and teammates eventually have to step in and separate the two teammates.

The Suns have shopped Morris around as the trade deadline approaches, this isn’t going to help his value.

We should find out more about what happened after the game ends, although I’m sure both sides will play it down as “nothing.”

Kawhi Leonard drains game winner to beat Orlando (VIDEO)

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This is how much Gregg Popovich trusts Kawhi Leonard on offense now: Tie game with 13.3 seconds remaining, and the play design is a 1-4 flat isolation for Leonard. It’s the kind of play teams will call for LeBron James or Kevin Durant. Popovich just called it for Leonard.

And he was rewarded with a game-winning bucket.

Leonard finished with 29 points, LaMarcus Aldridge had 21, and the Spurs head into the All-Star break with a 45-8 record, on pace to win 70 games this season. And that still would only get them a two seed.

Hornets’ Michael Kidd-Gilchrist suffers shoulder dislocation, leaves game

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist
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Michael Kidd-Gilchrist had been back just six games after suffering a torn labrum in the preseason that required surgery. The Hornets had won four of those six, were playing improved defense, and looked like a potential playoff team in the East.

Now this.

He went straight to the locker room and did not return to the game (the Pacers got the win).

You can see the injury above. In a scramble for a loose ball, the Pacers’ Ian Mahinmi falls on MKG’s arm, dislocating his shoulder.

We don’t know the severity of all this and if MKG is going to miss time beyond this game. But it isn’t good.