LOS ANGELES (News4usonline) – The Los Angeles Clippers hosted their first home game of the season against the Memphis Grizzlies Saturday night at STAPLES enter. Led by rising star Ja Morant’s hot shooting hand, Memphis defeated the clippers, 120-114.
Despite the game being highly competitive, Morant and the Grizzlies outplayed the Clippers down the stretch.
“I’m happy we fought, but that can’t be who we are… we gotta come in, we gotta do our job, we gotta win games,” said Paul George.
The Clippers superstar had a sensational performance against the Grizzlies. George finished the game with a team-high 41 points and 10 rebounds. However, despite his stellar performance, George needed more help from his teammates.
Outside of George, the Clippers didn’t have any other player reach 20 points. The closest any player got to that 20-point mark was Reggie Jackson, who finished the game with 17 points.
“Hopefully we don’t have to rely on him every night to have 40 just for us to have a chance to win… we’re gonna have to figure things out as a team, we’re gonna have to get better as a team,” said Jackson.
The effort made on the defensive side of the basketball is where the Clippers struggled the most. Early in the first half of the game, the Clippers were rolling and hitting on all cylinders. They were able to maintain a lead for the majority of the first half.
However, the Grizzlies with the help of Morant, Jarren Jackson Jr, and others would not go away. Morant used the pick and roll to get to the paint at will while finding open shooters. Morant, who scored a team-high 28 points, finished the first half with 15 points and six assists as Memphis cut the Clippers’ lead down to 62-59.
The Clippers came out a bit flat at the beginning of the second half and did not match the level of momentum Memphis carried over from the end of the first two quarters. With Morant and other Grizzlie players dominating the third quarter with one made shot after another, Memphis started taking over the game.
On the offensive side of the ball, the Clippers lacked movement when Memphis started their roll, head coach Tyronn Lue said after the game.
“I thought our second unit came in and they played well, moving the basketball, moving bodies, and then we came back in those last six minutes in that second quarter,” Lue said. “We just got stagnant and we didn’t share the basketball and so we just have to continue preaching that in timeouts, but we got stagnant, took some bad shots and they ended up winning the game.”
George said the team has to do a better job of setting a defensive tone.
“I think still the emphasis needs to be ‘get back.’ Especially with these fast teams, we just got to get back I think we’re still getting out of preseason mode,” George said. “We got to start to find our way and figure it out. You know, the season starts from here, so we just got to dial in on that and getting back and getting matched up and getting our defense set.”
The Grizzlies were getting several open threes off of pick and rolls or just drive and kick situations. Morant dominated the game through the first three quarters. Attempts by the Clippers to trap Morant or even having George defend him in the fourth quarter helped in some regards.
However, this defensive method allowed Morant to drive and deliver a pass to Jaren Jackson Jr. where he made a dagger three-pointer to seal the fate of the Clippers.
“Hit a shot like that, you just hear the crowd feel sick. It’s a good feeling,” said Jackson.
The Clippers played hard and displayed a dynamic offense in spurts of the game. Defense is the concerning aspect for they allowed a young Memphis Grizzlies team missing their starting shooting guard to come in and upset them in their first home game of the season.