Clippers’ comeback versus Grizzlies a bench affair

Playing in their 12th back-to-back set of the season, the Los Angeles Clippers (42-19) looked to their bench players as head coach Tyronn Lue rested a majority of his starters as the grueling shortened season schedule has taken its toll on the team’s veteran members.

Taking on the Memphis Grizzlies (29-28) after playing Tuesday night in Portland, the Clippers fought back for their 24th home win of the season and seventh straight victory at STAPLES Center as the Grizzlies could not hold off a blazing hot Clippers team.

With a 117-105 victory, Los Angeles is still within striking distance of the number one seed in the western conference and has now won 10 of their last 11 games. The Clippers are currently 11-1 on the season on the second night of their back-to-back sets and are an NBA best 18-5 since the All-Star break.

With superstar Kawhi Leonard nursing a foot injury that forced him to miss his 15th game of the season, Lue decided to rest Paul George, as well as veterans Rajon Rondo and Reggie Jackson as the team is in a stretch of playing 9 games in 14 days.

“Yeah, it just comes down to heart, you know wanting to compete for 48 minutes no matter who we’re playing, no matter who’s playing and we don’t make excuses,” Lue said.

Joking about whether or not the team needs their star players, Lue knows how important his two horses are heading into the playoffs.

“No way. We definitely need them, but I’ll tell you our guy’s man, they just stuck together,” Lue said. “Got down early, down eighteen. Being resilient, just kept fighting, keep trying to find ways to win.”

The move paid off for coach Lue, as four of the five starters scored double-digit points on the night, which included a big night from Luke Kennard. After trailing by as much as 18 points early in the first half, the Clippers proved again how deep of a roster they contain as Kennard and Marcus Morris Sr. shined yet again in the absence of the team’s two superstars.

Kennard finished the night with 28 points, a season-high for the young up-and-coming star, as he knocked down a season-high six three-pointers. As Kennard continues to gain more confidence from the coaching staff, he understands the importance of shining in moments like these.

“It’s good, I know tonight, with the guys that were out, coaches, teammates, everybody was telling me to be more aggressive than usual, extra aggressive,” Kennard said.

Morris Sr. finished his night with another 20 points plus game, as he scored 25 points and nailed four three-pointers of his own. On the night, the Clippers shot over 50 percent from deep as they continue their hot shooting from beyond the arc and lead the league in three-point percentage.

Los Angeles will hit the road for a three-game road trip as the team will play 7 of their last 11 games on the road. The Clippers will face the last-place Houston Rockets (15-44) on Friday night as they look to continue their hot streak heading into the final stretch of the season.

After playing the Rockets, the Clippers will then close out their four-game road trip against the New Orleans Pelicans and Phoenix Suns before squaring up against the Denver Nuggets at home on May 1.

With Leonard expected to be out yet again, the team will rely heavily on George down the stretch as they look to move up in the Western Conference standings. Currently, Los Angeles is three games out of first place as the Utah Jazz has been the team to chase the entire season.