After trailing by 26 points in the second quarter – and by 19 at halftime – the Memphis Grizzlies pulled to within four points of the San Antonio Spurs in Game 2 of their first-round playoff series Monday. But in the end, San Antonio won, 96-82, in large part because Kawhi Leonard shot 19-of-19 from the foul line and scored a game-high 37 points. Leonard, in fact, attempted more free throws than Memphis’ entire team (15) – and David Fizdale wasn’t happy about it.
The Grizzlies coach blasted the officiating after the loss, saying his players aren’t getting the respect they deserve.
“I understand his frustration, but at the same time, I think you got to really kind of be careful here,” Spurs radio voice Bill Schoening said on CBS Sports Radio’s After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “I think maybe he’s trying to buy some calls, but I don’t see his point because Memphis is probably the most physical team in the league. In the playoffs, usually they let guys play. In this particular game, they put guys at the free-throw line, and I think that that’s why David Fizdale was so upset. The Spurs did have more free throws than the Grizzlies, but it’s a playoff game. There’s going to be some scratching and clawing and grabbing. That’s what Memphis does, as a matter of fact. That’s what they live on. So I understand his frustration because his team lost. They had a nice comeback, (but) they didn’t pull it out. It’s going to be very, very difficult for his team, especially without Tony Allen, to stop the Spurs.”
Allen, 35, is out indefinitely with a calf injury.
“It really hurts them,” Schoening said. “There’s no question about it. Tony, to me, is the grit and the grind of The Grindhouse. He is their best perimeter defender, and without Tony Allen, they don’t have anybody with experience that can really stop Kawhi Leonard. I think Kawhi is going to continue to put up 30-point games in this series.”
Leonard is averaging 34.5 points and shooting 71.4 percent from the floor (20-of-28) through two games. The Spurs lead the Grizzlies, 2-0, despite dropping four of five to the season.
“They got out of their rhythm a little bit,” Schoening said of the Spurs’ late-season stumble. “He did rest guys down the stretch. Danny Green, for instance, who’s their best perimeter defender along with Kawhi Leonard, he didn’t play for a number of games there. He had an injury, but they kind of kept him out to make sure he was going to be fresh for the playoffs, and they wanted to play some guys late. Even in the forth quarters of some of those games, they were playing a bunch of young guys because they got the run they wanted to get out of the regulars. . . . They got that second seed wrapped up, and I think that sometimes mentally it’s difficult to really go out and bust your butt when you know that no matter what you do, you’re going to be the 2-seed. They were really kind of settled into that No. 2 seed for about 10 days before the end of the regular season.”
Game 3 is Thursday in Memphis at 9:30 p.m. ET.