The Memphis Grizzlies suffered another tough loss on Monday, losing to the San Antonio Spurs 96-82 and falling behind 2-0 in their opening-round series.
While many were extolling the performance of MVP candidate Kawhi Leonard — he had 37 points and 11 rebounds, including a whopping 19-19 from the free-throw line — one person wasn’t as impressed, Grizzlies first-year head coach David Fizdale.
After the game, Fizdale was clearly agitated during his press conference, noting that he needed to “cool off and have a glass of wine on the plane” before he could look at the film and evaluate the team’s game plan moving forward.
He clearly had not cooled off yet when he was asked the very next question about fighting back into the game in the second half. After calling it “huge” for the team’s confidence, he then went off on a tangent, ripping into the officiating and how Leonard had more free throws than his entire team, despite being a team that is more aggressive closer to the basket.
“It’s unfortunate that I got a guy like Mike Conley, who in his whole career has zero technical fouls and just cannot seem to get the proper respect from the officials that he deserves. It was a very poorly officiated basketball game. Zach Randolph, the most rugged guy in the game, had zero free throws, but somehow Kawhi Leonard had 19 free throws. First half, we shot 19 shots in the paint and had six free throws. They shot 11 times in the pain and shot 23 free throws.”
Fizdale paused to let that stat hang in the air for moment.
“I’m not a numbers guy, but that doesn’t seem to add up. Overall, 35 times we shot the ball in the paint. We had 15 free throws for the game! They shot 18 times in the paint and had 32 free throws. Kawhi shot more free throws than are whole team. Explain it to me. We don’t get the respect these guys deserve because Mike Conley doesn’t go crazy, he has class, and he just plays the game. But I’m not going to let them treat us that way. I know [Spurs coach Gregg Popovich] has pedigree and I’m a young rookie, but they’re not gonna rook us! That’s unacceptable. That was unprofessional. My guys dug in that game and earned the right to be in that game and they did not even give us a chance.”
Fizdale paused before slamming a pen on the table and saying emphatically, “Take that for data!”
Here are his entire comments. He starts to get worked up at the 1:15 mark:
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