Two of the best teams in the NBA battle on Saturday night when the Memphis Grizzlies invade the AT&T Center to face the San Antonio Spurs.
The two teams have two of the best records in the NBA and it should be a marquee matchup.
This is the first time the Spurs take the court since Thursday's game against the defending champion Miami Heat in South Beach. It was just before that game that head coach Gregg Popovich sent stars Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili and Danny Green back to San Antonio to rest at the end of a six-game road trip.
It did not go over well with NBA Commissioner David Stern.
"I apologize to all NBA fans," Stern said. "This was an unacceptable decision by the San Antonio Spurs and substantial sanctions will be forthcoming."
Popovich declined to comment since Stern's comments came right around tip-off.
Then, a funny thing happened.
The Spurs, without those four key contributors, held the lead over the Heat in the final minute. A few bad shots, and a Ray Allen 3-pointer later, and the Heat walked out with a 105-100 victory.
That snapped what had been a perfect road trip to that point. The Spurs were 5-0 and play their next three in San Antonio. They'll be a bit lighter in the wallet after Stern handed the Spurs a $250,000 fine for what the commissioner deemed as a violation of league policy against resting players "in a manner contrary to the best interests of the NBA."
The game was on national television.
"The result here is dictated by the totality of the facts in this case," said Stern in a statement. "The Spurs decided to make four of their top players unavailable for an early-season game that was the team's only regular-season visit to Miami. The team also did this without informing the Heat, the media, or the league office in a timely way. Under these circumstances, I have concluded that the Spurs did a disservice to the league and our fans."
San Antonio's stars should be back in action Saturday night.
Memphis sits ahead of the Spurs in the Southwest Division with a 12-2 mark and has won four in a row. The Grizzlies just played on Friday versus Detroit in the finale of a five-game homestand (4-1) and got 17 points apiece from Marc Gasol and Mike Conley in a 90-78 win. Gasol grabbed 11 rebounds and Rudy Gay led Memphis with a game-best 18 points.
"We won four out of five," Memphis coach Lionel Hollins said of the Grizzlies' recent homestand. "We defended and we outscored the other teams. That's what it's about."
The Grizzlies, who will play five of seven games on the road, forced 22 turnovers, leading to 31 points. Grizzlies guard Tony Allen (groin) missed Friday's game and is questionable against the Spurs.
Memphis lost all four meetings with San Antonio last season and is winless in four straight trips to the Alamo City. The Grizzlies, in fact, have dropped 14 of their previous 15 games as the visitor in this series.