There will be no Game 7. There will be no more games at FedExForum. The Spurs took care of that by rallying to defeat the Grizzlies, 103-96.
“It’s hard, the season’s over,” said Grizzlies center Marc Gasol. “It’s going to be one of those nights, a long, long night where the game keeps replaying in your head. You’re going to go over every play about a thousand times. When you try to close your eyes, whatever that time is, it’s going to keep replaying in your head.”
“We had the game in our hands,” said Gasol. “We were getting ready to travel tomorrow and getting ready to play, in our minds, Game 7.”
The Grizzlies gave up too many (16) offensive rebounds. Gasol didn’t take a single shot in the fourth quarter.
Said Grizzlies coach David Fizdale, by way of explanation: “Turnovers, bad possessions offensively, mental mistakes defensively.”
The Spurs have now bounced the Grizzlies from the playoffs four times. They are the better, deeper, more talented team.
Beyond that, the Grizzlies were missing Tony Allen and Chandler Parsons, an original member of the Core Four and the max player who was supposed to put the Grizzlies over the top.
So the Grizzlies took on the Spurs with two rookies (Andrew Harrison and Wayne Selden) playing significant minutes, and with 40-year-old Vince Carter starting at the wing.
And the Grizzlies still gave the Spurs everything they could handle, in large part because Conley played the games of his life. Conley scored another 26 points Thursday, the fifth straight game in which he scored at least 20 points.
“Every night I would close my eyes and envision this from Mike Conley when I thought about our team,” Fizdale said. “I think he showed people in this playoffs. He’s a big-time player that’s not afraid of the moment, that loves competition.”
Said Popovich: “Mike Conley has always been a heck of a player, he has never gotten his due. He’s been the most underrated point guard in the league for a while. Everybody talks about point guards and they mention four or five guys and it’s always the same guys. But this kid has a high basketball IQ, he shoots it, he drives it, he passes, he runs his team, he’s incredible.”
It must be satisfying for Conley to hear those sorts of compliments. He has fought for the smallest scraps of recognition for ever so long. But in the wake of Thursday’s loss, Conley was less interested in hearing what other people said about him than he was in saying some things about his team.
“It was a pleasure to play with a group that really leaves it out there like that,” he said. “I left everything I had out there and I know my teammates did the same. It’s been such a pleasure to play with guys like that, knowing that not only myself but everyone else is laying it on the line. It’s exhausting, but it’s worth it.”