DeMar DeRozan and LaMarcus Aldridge have been a dynamic duo for surging San Antonio this season, but the team's other players also have made a real difference in the Spurs' turnaround after a disappointing start.
The Spurs, who have won three straight and 12 of their past 14 games, look to continue their momentum when they host Memphis on Saturday at the AT&T Center.
San Antonio (22-17) knew what it was going to get from its established stars heading into the year, and DeRozan (22.8 points per game) and Aldridge (19.9) have produced as expected. Guards Bryn Forbes and Derrick White also have made big contributions, as have veteran Marco Belinelli and Patty Mills off the bench.
Such was the case on Thursday when San Antonio rolled to a 125-107 win over Toronto in former Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard's return after an offseason trade to the Raptors. DeRozan scored 21 points, took 14 rebounds and distributed 11 assists to record his first career triple-double, and Aldridge hit for a game-high 23 points.
Then there was the ancillary contributions -- with Forbes adding 20 points, White recording 19, Rudy Gay scoring 13 points and Mills tallying 12.
"We came out with great energy and finally put two halves together," Forbes said. "We are far ahead of where we started, especially on defense. Tonight on offense, we moved the ball well and got a lot of guys involved."
White, who was primarily responsible for guarding Leonard, got high marks for his defense and all-around game at point guard.
"Derrick is rising to the challenge," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. "He wasn't expected to be in this position this season, and he's grown by leaps and bounds every week. With every game, he seems to be more confident making great decisions, and his demeanor is wonderful. The guys trust him out there. I'm really happy for him. He is doing a fine job."
The Grizzlies (18-20) head to the Alamo City for the second game of a home-road back-to-back after a 109-100 loss to New Jersey on Friday, their fourth straight setback.
Mike Conley led the Grizzlies in the loss with 31 points, with Kyle Anderson added 11 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists for his first career triple-double. Jaren Jackson Jr. scored 19 points for Memphis, and Marc Gasol tallied 13.
The game was the first since a trade with Chicago brought Justin Holiday to the Grizzlies and sent Marshon Brooks, Wayne Selden and two second-round picks to the Bulls. Holiday was not with the team on Friday but is expected to be in uniform in San Antonio on Saturday.
The game also came after a locker room meeting following a loss to Detroit on Wednesday turned physical between the Grizzlies' Garrett Temple and Omri Casspi.
"I think addressing larger issues was the conversation that we needed to have," Memphis coach J.B. Bickerstaff said after the loss to Detroit. "Right now, it's not Xs and Os that need to be resolved. We resolved some of those issues (Wednesday)."
Gasol said that he would work on being a "better leader."
"I think it's needed, and guys expect that," Gasol told the (Memphis) Commercial Appeal. "I've worked on not being that critical with my teammates, because in the past it creates some problems. But now it's going to change a little bit."
Memphis beat the Spurs 104-103 in San Antonio in the teams' first meeting this season. The Spurs still own a 69-23 all-time edge over the Grizzlies, including a 38-8 mark in San Antonio.
Updated January 5, 2019