Monday, May 27, 2013

Spurs - Grizzlies Game Four: Well, At Least That's Over

Memo to Memphis
I suppose that it's no news to anyone who reads this blog that I'm not a big fan of the World Wide Lemur, the Mouse that ruined sports, the only people on the planet that willingly give Skip Bayless money. I think ESPN is all that's wrong with sports: the gimmed up controversies, the frat boy snark, the jockocracy and homogenizaton, and the success that has made everyone think that this is the only way to do this. Maybe this is always the way it has to be, or always has been, but for 20-plus years now, I've liked ESPN a little less than did the previous year.

For whatever reason, ESPN got the Western Conference Finals this year; usually they take the East. And despite two of the four games going to overtime, it was a squash, which means that we have the bare minimum amount of ESPN work.

And that's about all that I can say in terms of basketball artistry. In the first half, San Antonio took the crowd out of the game with alacrity, helped by the shocking continuation of Zach Randolph, Offensive Liability. (He and Marc Gasol combined to go 2 for 12 in the first half. Woof.) Memphis couldn't put the ball in the ocean, but when every possession requires a half dozen good passes and moves just to get a mid-range jumper, you aren't going to score a lot. The Spurs, in counter, shot lay ups, and only the absence of Manu Ginobili and a few free throws kept this as a six point game. How bad was it? I love hoop and there's likely less than a dozen games left before late October, and it was an effort not to switch over to a not very close regular season MLB game. One where I didn't have any fantasy players.

In the third, Memphis was able to trade hoops and look a little better, but that's not terribly helpful when you start the second half from behind, and the crowd stayed as hot as a mid-week game in February. You got the feeling, watching this, that with the exception of guys like Quincy Pondexter, the Grizz and their fans were just ready for this to be over. Parker was particularly devastating; when the point guard shoots 12 for his first 16, you're going to win an awful lot of games. A 5-point QP run got it back to six, reminding the crowd to cheer, but o-board volleyball failed, leading to a Manu run out at the end of the run. It also led to the always tiresome Jeff van Gundy ranting about how Manu should have flopped, as if that's advice that Manu really needs to hear. Have I mentioned that I'm glad ESPN isn't getting extra games?

Pondexter drained another deep one as Boris Diaw was fouling Randolph, which got it back to six and allowed Drama once more. A crazed Manu drive failed at the line, leading to two more QP FTs, but he missed one. Zebo got a steal and score to make it three with 1:07 left, but the Spurs always answer, and this time it was Kawhi Leonard from the arc. Six point game for the Spurs at the end of three.

Starting the fourth, Darrell Arthur cut it to four, but Leonard got a steal and eventually scored in transition against Jarryd Bayless as the rest of Memphis didn't run back; telling. Randolph's old-score three got it to three and More Drama, but Tony Allen's fourth foul was on Manu outside the arc, and that's just inexcusable. Allen was a defensive hammer before this playoff and one of the reasons why I got fooled into thinking Memphis would advance; he's been a big problem, and hasn't done much to stop Parker at all. And just to prove the point further, Parker hits a three. Ye gads.

Even more telling: with six minutes left, Parker goes down heavily with an apparent eye problem after an uncalled touch foul... and Gasol tends to him, rather than join in for a 5-on-4, or force a Spur timeout. On the one hands, applauding the sportsmanship is a nice moment, but it also speaks to a certain lack of blood thirstiness from the Grizz. The get-even call comes immediately, with Allen getting his fifth, and Duncan converting. Leonard steals, Duncan runs, the Grizz don't, and it's 10 with 5 minutes left.

Parker returns; Pondexter scores on an awkward drive, but the Spurs' PG just can't miss tonight, or shoot anything but an open shot. QP's 2 of 3 FTs don't distract ESPN from Grizzly Bench Drama, because ESPN is all about whatever is not on the court. Duncan misses, but so does QP. Two awful possessions ensue, and Manu turns it over again; game got really ragged there for a solid minute. Allen was stopped at the rim by Manu and Tiago Splitter for the inevitably praised no call.

Randolph with a terrible turnover out of the timeout, and that might be it. Duncan misses a key jumper and a killshot. Bayless misses from the perimeter, and it looks like the Spurs are going to win with their current point total. Parker misses; Gasol boards, but can't get the runner. Duncan's second puts Randolph to the line for a chance to shine his goat horns some more, and he does not disappoint; after 1 for 2, he's 12 for 24 for the series. Parker runs clock and turns it over; 6 turns for the Spurs in the fourth are the only reason we have drama in the final minutes. Bayless to Gasol makes it a three point game. Parker gets to the rim with way too much ease for 30 seconds left in a season, with Bayless putting him on the line; the Spurs don't miss, and it's a 5-point game. Splitter blocks Bayless at the rim, just a great play, and that should be it. Bayless puts Parker on the line, which gets him to 99 points for the playoff and 37 for the game. The post-mortems will blame Gasol and Randolph, but Parker owning Conley has been the bigger issue. Conley misses from the arc, the Spurs run out the clock, the Grizzly PA redefines unintentional comedy by playing "Don't Stop Believing" by Journey, and that's a wrap.

San Antonio now has an absurd 10 days off before the Finals begin, just to make sure that the sweep hurts them with the most rust ever. I don't like their chances against the Heat, but I haven't liked anyone's chances against the Heat all year, and I thought they were going to lose to the Grizz. They'll have all the time in the world to prepare.

No comments:

Ads In This Size Rule