As his Memphis Grizzlies were getting pummeled in Game 1 against the Spurs, the cameras zoomed in on Grizz head coach David Fizdale in timeout huddle. Fizdale was displaying the passion and good sense that got him the job in Memphis after his assistant coaching stint with the Heat. Fizdale implored his young team: “I don’t ever care what he score is,” he said, “you’ve got to compete. Compete!” The Spurs made it hard. And then the Spurs made it hard again in Game 2, building a 26 point lead in the first half.
But something clicked for Memphis in the locker room at halftime. They seemed to have internalized Fizdale’s message because when they emerged the Grizzlies went on a run, outscoring the Spurs 34-19 to open the half. (It was the kind of run that usually belongs to the home team.) The Grizzlies competed their way back to within four points — but ultimately the home court advantage, Kawhi Leonard (37 points) and (in Fizdale’s opinion) the officiating was too much to overcome for the Grizzlies. (Fizdale on the refs: “My guys dug in that game and earned the right to be in that game, and they did not even give us a chance.”) Now after a 96-82 Game 2 loss, the Grizzlies will return home,where they are 2-0 against San Antonio this year. Without that turnaround, the Grizz might feel deflated. But after than second half it looks like the Grizz are surely ready to “compete, compete!” against the Spurs no matter the score. Speaking of score, the Grizz need to find a way to do it — they managed just 82 points in each of the first two games.