Spurs at home where the wins are to face Grizzlies
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The San Antonio Spurs have been one of the NBA's best home teams this season and will get another chance to continue that trend on Wednesday when they host the surging Memphis Grizzlies at AT&T Center.
Wednesday's matchup will precede four-game road trip for the Spurs (8-8), who have won six of eight at home but just twice away from the Alamo City.
San Antonio's latest road setback came Monday when it fell in New Orleans 140-126 despite 21 points from DeMar DeRozan and 20 from Bryn Forbes.
But this loss wasn't about scoring, at least not for the Spurs, who also got 19 points from Dante Cunningham, 17 from Rudy Gay, and 11 each from Marco Belinelli and Jakob Poeltl.
It was about San Antonio's unexpected lack of defensive execution and its inability to overcome New Orleans' aggressiveness.
"We held them to 140," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich joked after the loss. "What do you mean they're hard to guard? As the game went on, their athleticism got to us.
"They played really well and were aggressive. They shot it well, and they did a good job moving the ball and moving bodies. We just didn't have enough juice."
The Spurs, who have now lost four of five games, were outscored 78-28 in the paint and committed 15 turnovers that led to 25 New Orleans points.
"We just have to go game to game," said San Antonio's LaMarcus Aldridge, who grabbed 10 rebounds but struggled scoring, with just seven points on 2-of-11 shooting. "I don't think you can look at the whole month, you have to go game to game and focus on the task at hand."
Memphis, meanwhile, used its trademark stout defense to beat Dallas 98-88 at home on Monday and moved into a tie atop the Western Conference.
Mike Conley scored 28 points and Marc Gasol added 17 points and 15 rebounds for the Grizzlies (11-5) in a game that had 17 lead changes and 15 ties before Memphis ran off 10 straight points in the final minutes.
Jaren Jackson Jr. finished with 13 points and Garrett Temple added 12 as Memphis won its sixth in the past seven outings.
Memphis, which is already halfway to last year's win total of 22, has won with defense and surprising chemistry, two aspects the Grizzlies struggled with in 2017-18.
"In today's league, a lot of teams are so used to things being easy and nobody really wants to play defense," Conley said after Monday's win. "Everybody wants to get up and down and shoot 3s. So when they come upon a team that gets into you and is physical and actually plays defense, it's a different game for them."
Temple, a veteran of seven NBA franchises who is in his first year with the Grizzlies, said he can't remember being on a team that was this bought in this quickly.
"It's rare," Temple explained. "You can be bought in, but sometimes you just don't have the players to do it. We have the players to do it, and we're bought in. We're buying in and we're defending, man. It's really fun to be a part of."
San Antonio went 4-0 against Memphis last season. The Spurs own a 66-29 series lead over the Grizzlies and have won 38 of the 45 games the teams have played in the Alamo City, including seven straight.
Updated November 20, 2018