Playoffs 2021

Jonas Valanciunas powers Memphis Grizzlies over San Antonio Spurs with 20-20 game

Jonas Valanciunas (NBA Getty Images)

The Memphis Grizzlies live to see another day.

In the Western Conference's first Play-In game, the Grizzlies defeated the San Antonio Spurs by a final score of 100-96.

Jonas Valanciunas led the way with 23 points and 23 rebounds while Dillon Brooks scored a game-high 24 points. Dejounte Murray recorded a 10-point, 13-rebound, 11-assist triple-double, but it wasn't enough for the Spurs to overcome an off night from DeMar DeRozan.

For more on the game, some takes at the buzzer...

1. The injury report

No surprises.

Derrick White (right ankle), Trey Lyles (right ankle) and Luka Samanic (left hand) didn't play for the Spurs. Sean McDermott (left foot) was the only one who didn't suit up for the Grizzlies.

Not having White was a big loss for the Spurs - he was their third-leading scorer this season - but he had been sidelined since April 28.

2. No dribble is safe around Murray

Ja Morant learned that the hard way on the opening possession of the game.

Murray finished with 101 steals this season, tying him with Delon Wright and Robert Covington for fifth-most in the league. He also recorded 193 deflections, ranking him seventh in the league. He is quite the pest defensively.

3. Throwing the first punch

It pretty much went downhill for the Spurs after Murray's steal.

With 10:10 remaining in the quarter, Keldon Johnson hit a jump shot to make it 4-4. The Grizzlies outscored 34-15 the rest of the way, building as much as a 21-point lead at one point.

It was a three-man show for the Grizzlies. Jaren Jackson Jr. got them started with eight quick points, six of which came from the 3-point line.

Jackson struggled from the 3-point line in the 11 games he appeared in this season, but he was one of the best shooting big men in the league last season, shooting 39.4 percent on 6.5 3-point attempts per game. He's not someone you can forget about on the perimeter.

Valanciunas then got in on the fun, as did Brooks.

Valanciunas nearly had himself a double-double at the end of the first quarter with 12 points and nine rebounds while Brooks chipped in with 10 points.

The three of them combined for 30 of the 38 points Memphis scored in the opening period. San Antonio had no answer for them.

4. A game of runs

The Spurs opened the second quarter on a 22-3 run, helping them turn a 19-point deficit into a two-point deficit.

It was a team effort, led by Murray and Patty Mills.

The Spurs beating up on the Grizzlies' second unit made for a funky box score at halftime. Whereas Valanciunas was a team-high +26, Xavier Tillman was a team-low -19. Same deal with the Spurs: Mills was team-high +12, whereas Lonnie Walker IV was a team-low -25.

Either way, we had a ball game at the half with the Grizzlies leading by only seven points.

5. Two can play this game

Morant got some revenge on Murray later in the game.

6. Mr. 20-20

Remember how Valanciunas almost had a double-double at the end of the first quarter? Well, he entered the fourth quarter with 21 points on 9-for-15 shooting from the field and 20 rebounds, all in 28 minutes of play.

Valanciunas recorded three 20-20 games in the regular season, tying him with Clint Capela, Andre Drummond and Rudy Gobert for most in the league. He now has six 20-20 games as a member of the Grizzlies. The only player in franchise history with more is Zach Randolph (12).

Something Randolph never did? Go for 20-20 through three quarters.

7. Welcome to the Brooks show

Brooks showed up when the Grizzlies needed him the most.

With 7:30 remaining in the fourth quarter, DeRozan knocked down a midrange jumper to give the Spurs an 80-79 lead. The Grizzlies were trending in the wrong direction, but Brooks helped them get back on track by scoring eight straight points.

He drained two midrange pull-ups, followed by two strong drives to the basket.

Not only did Brooks help the Grizzlies regain the lead, he made it a two possession game with 5:18 to play, setting the tone for the rest of the way.

Brooks finished with a game-high 24 points. He also played a leading role in the Grizzlies limiting DeRozan to 20 points. While DeRozan went 10-for-11 from the free throw line, he shot only 5-for-21 from the field, making for one of his worst shooting performances of the season.

A tremendous two-way game from Brooks.

8. What's next

This marks the end of the season for the Spurs. The Grizzlies, meanwhile, will face the loser of tonight's battle between the Golden State Warriors and Los Angeles Lakers. The winner of that game will get the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference, earning them a date with the Utah Jazz in the first round of the playoffs.

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