LOS ANGELES, CA-Blake Griffin did his part in trying to lift the Los Angeles Clippers to a win against the visiting Memphis Grizzlies. Griffin scored 30 points and grabbed 11 rebounds for the Clippers in their Saturday matinee game against the Grizzlies at Staples Center. Griffin dunked. He made power moves, led the fastbreak at times and shot an occasional jumper or two.
Griffin’s big performance wasn’t enough to stop the Clippers from dropping their third game at home this young NBA season. The Grizzlies, behind balanced offensive scoring, handed the Clippers their third defeat of the season, recording a 113-104 victory.
The Grizzlies used the old-fashioned staple of the outside and inside game of center Marc Gasol and guard Mike Conley to knockoff the Clippers. Conley scored 22 points, while Gasol added 21 points and six rebounds for Memphis. Tyreke Evans contributed 20 points as the Grizzlies got double-digit scoring from seven players.
“Anytime you can get multiple guys into double figures, that means the ball’s moving, everyone’s in rhythm, and people are being unselfish and sharing the ball,” said Memphis coach David Fizdale. “That’s something we’ve really been preaching after the last few losses. We’re constantly trying to build trust and the guys seem to be getting there.”
Memphis outscored Los Angeles every quarter. Offensively, the Clippers was near on par to what their score average is per game (109 points per game). It’s the defensive side of things that didn’t well Clippers head coach Doc Rivers, particularly the first couple of minutes.
“We were awful defensively in the first five minutes, but then all of the sudden we clicked and started getting stops and running,” Rivers said.
After a close first quarter, the Clippers kept pushing the ball on the defensive-minded Grizzlies, scoring 31 points.
“This is the first game in three games we got our pace back, running,” Rivers said. “You can tell, when you see our guards going downhill, that tells you our pace is back, and I thought we did a great job of that.”
While the Clippers was running to get their rhythm back, on the flip side of that coin, the Grizzlies scored 33 points in the second period to take a four-point advantage into halftime. Memphis outscored Los Angeles by three and two points over the course of the last two quarters to make up the final scoring tally for both teams.
“I thought, for the most part, that we did a good job of moving the ball,” Gasol said. “Obviously, having me lifting DeAndre [Jordan] allows us to take him out of the paint and not have as much traffic in the paint. [It] allowed our guys to drive and do different things.”
The Clippers played catch up all afternoon, seeing the Grizzlies flex their muscles onto double-digit leads throughout the contest. After their 27-25 first quarter edge, the Grizzlies never did surrender their lead, despite Patrick Beverly dropping in 23 points for the Clippers to add to Griffin’s point total.
But it wasn’t Beverly’ offense that Grizzlies players were talking about; it was Beverly’s defense they discussed about facing.
“[Patrick Beverly] is one of the best defenders in the league, especially from the guard position,” Memphis guard Mike Conley said. “Our bigs did a great job of screening today and loosening it up a bit. Once [Beverly] gets a hold on you, it’s hard to get away. We did a good job of getting him off me with good pick and rolls and pin downs.”
Historically, the Grizzlies have always been a thorn in the Clippers’ side. But not last year. During the 2016-2017 NBA season, the Clippers managed to take three of the four games they played against the Grizzlies.