The Clippers played poorly in this one almost from start to finish, and were punished for it by the Grizzlies, who won going away 122-94. Check out the game recap below for full details of the Clippers’ loss to the Grizzlies.
The Clippers’ first quarter was their best, on both ends of the court. While they weren’t playing great, their defense was active and forcing the Grizzlies into shots that the Clippers wanted them to take, while the offense had at least some ball movement. Still, the Grizzlies were the aggressor in attacking the basket from the very beginning, showing little fear of Serge Ibaka as a rim protector. Ultimately, it was’t pretty, but the Clippers held a three-point lead after one.
From there, it was all downhill. Tyus Jones, who had started scoring at the end of the 1st quarter, erupted in the second, making a seeming endless number of floaters and midrange jumpers. The Grizzlies seized the lead, and it was one they wouldn’t relinquish. Meanwhile, on the other end, Justise Winslow played superb defense on obth Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, using his strength and quickness to bother both players. The energy of the Grizzlies far surpassed the lethargic Clippers, and their lead swelled as they got to the rim time and again.
The Clippers started the second half with a brief surge of energy, but this quickly dissipated. The stagnant offense returned, leading to contested midrange jumpers and bricked turnovers. The Grizzlies offense faced little resistanc, looking like a well-oiled machine rather than a subpar unit, with their forays to the rim seemingly never ending. At one point, the Clippers had back to back possessions with good ball movement that led to open threes, forcing a Grizzlies timeout. After that, things reverted, and the Grizzlies’ push continued. Late in the quarter the Clippers showed some life against, but every time they made even a small push they would follow with a mistake, and the Grizzlis would regain control.
The Clippers’ offense looked at it’s best since the early stages of the game to start the 4th, with the Lou-Zu pick and roll yielding positive results on several consecutive possessions. Unfortunately, Reggie Jackson was getting attacked on the other end, meaning the Clippers barely made any headway. Then, despite Zu’s success, Ty Lue went small with Marcus Morris at center. This lineup promptly collapsed, with Morris, Kawhi Leonard, and Paul George taking turns shooting contested jumpers while the Grizzlies moved the ball and got open threes. A steady lead soon became a rout, and the last six minutes were garbage time.
Losing the Paint Battle: At one point in the early 3rd quarter, the Clippers were getting outscored in the paint by a 50-14 margin. That sums up in the game in short – the Grizzlies got to favorable spots on the court with ease, while the Clippers rarely did. On offense, the Clippers looked as bad as they did at their worst last year – isolation-heavy, turnover-prone, and jumper-happy. They seemed to lack explosion, burst, and ball movement, resulting in no penetration, and therefore few kickouts for threes as well. The Grizzlies, on the other hand, seemed young and sprightly, getting to the paint almost at will against the larger, slower Clippers’ defenders. It was ugly from just about all angles in this one – strategy, execution, and effort were all poor.
Tillman vs. Oturu: It’s unfair to Daniel Oturu because he’s injured, and we aren’t even halfway through his rookie season, but he’s going to get comparisons to the players drafted after him, and rightly so. Tonight, the Clippers saw Xavier Tillman, the 35th pick (Oturu was 33rd), another Big 10 big man. Tillman played very well on both ends, contributing four points, three rebounds, five assists, and two steals in 23 minutes, showcasing the overall play that made him maybe the most feared player in one of the best conferences in college basketball. Oturu has barely played this season, and when he has, has only appeared in useless garbage time minutes. Tillman was the better prospect by nearly all accounts, and it was very curious that the Clippers went with Oturu over him. IT doesn’t look great so far, but hopefully things change over time. The 34th pick, Theo Maledon, has also played quite well for the Thunder.
Forget and Move On: There’s really not a ton more to say about this one. The Clippers were outplayed, outhustled, and outexecuted by the Grizzlies from nearly beginning to end, as mentioned elsewhere in this game recap. While the effort was absolutely within their control, and the blowout nature of the loss therefore rather embarrassing, the Grizzlies were simply better than them in every meaningful way tonight. It happens. Hopefully the Clippers come out tomorrow with more fire and something to prove.
Speaking of, the Clippers play again tomorrow against these same Grizzlies. Check in for the usual game preview in the morning, and stick around for what should be a more competitive and entertaining game.