Despite a strong start, the LA Clippers were unable to sustain their play as they fell to the Memphis Grizzlies, 123-108.
With the Clippers beginning a three-game home stretch before spending most of January on the road, every game is crucial especially when their opponent is short-handed as well.
Everything started out well, as the Clippers hit their first five shots and went 6-7 from three-point range. With the Western Conference standings getting tight and other teams starting to create some separation, the Clippers came out like they understood the situation and finished the quarter with a 36-28 lead.
The second quarter was when the Grizzlies got going, however. The Clippers turned the ball over six times in the quarter and Memphis was able to capitalize off that. Desmond Bane was able to find his rhythm, scoring eight points in the quarter and Jaren Jackson Jr. had 10 points as the Grizzlies stormed back to take a 66-56 lead at halftime.
The Clippers tried to get back into the game in the third quarter. They came out with solid energy at the start and pulled to within 66-62 off an Ivica Zubac tip-in. But Bane started an 11-0 run for the Grizzlies, scoring the first eight of those points by himself to push the Memphis lead to 77-62.
Even so, the Clippers had a couple of mini-rallies left in them. The bench unit led by Justice Winslow and Brandon Boston Jr. along with Marcus Morris Sr., provided a little bit of a lift near the end of the quarter to get within 91-84. But the Clippers gave up a buzzer-beating three-point shot to Killian Tillie to kill their momentum heading into the fourth quarter.
The fourth quarter belonged to the Grizzlies. They had their largest lead of the game at 113-88 and took full advantage of the Clippers struggling offense, inability to rebound and carelessness with the ball. The rest of the game was just garbage time as the Griz pulled away for the 123-108 victory.
- It’s hard to pinpoint any one aspect that could possibly turn the Clippers season around. There are several issues with this team and no quick fix on the horizon. Getting Luke Kennard back out of health and safety protocols will help, but he isn’t the savior that will jump-start this team. It was going to be an uphill climb to begin with without Kawhi Leonard, but Paul George’s injury is just salt on the wound. When it comes down to it, this is a good team of complimentary players that fit around their stars. It just so happens those star players are on the bench in street clothes. Floating around .500 should actually be considered somewhat of a success for this group, and as they showed in Brooklyn, they’re capable of pulling off some wins. It’s hard to expect too much out of this team when guys are being put into different roles they haven’t played before and lineups are fluctuating day to day and week to week.