Mike Conley and Tony Allen sat out with nagging foot and hamstring injuries, respectively. Marc Gasol would exit after spraining his left ankle in the first quarter. Beno Udrih took an accidental throat chop in the third quarter and sat out the next 12 minutes. Jeff Green, who was questionable entering the game, took somewhere between three and three hundred spills to the floor.
Battered, bruised, and on the tail end of a road back to back set against a Los Angeles Clippers team that had been off since Tuesday, it's hard to complain about the Memphis Grizzlies' play in a 94-86 loss that was close for far longer than it could've been.
With the score deadlocked at 79-79 late in the fourth quarter, the Grizzlies' legs finally gave way to the far more rested Clippers. J.J. Redick drilled a three-pointer coming off a curl with 5:09 remaining, and a Jeff Green layup after that, Chris Paul connected on a broken-play triple and a 20-footer. The Grizzlies wouldn't get within a one-possession score again, and frankly, they looked half-dead down the stretch.
Of course, it was hard to blame them. How dire did things get? A never before seen lineup started the second half for the Grizzlies, and the team fell ass-backward into an 11-point deficit after trailing by only two points at the break.
The Grizzlies would climb out of that particular hole, however; they ended the third quarter on a 10-0 run, getting six of those points in a row from Courtney Lee when he made a technical free throw, a foot-on-the-line two, and a corner triple in quick succession.
For those of you preaching rest: Zach Randolph played 39 minutes after logging 38 minutes last night, and an already-iffy Jeff Green recorded 41 minutes. Maybe it was for the better that Gasol left early? (It appears him being held out after his injury was mostly precautionary, though I'd wait for an official report.)
Randolph led all scorers with 21 points, so small hurrah there in that the last reserves of his stamina were at least put to good use.
With this loss, the Grizzlies drop to 54-26 on the season, while the Clippers advance to the same record – they're currently in a three-way tie with the San Antonio Spurs and a half-game up on the Houston Rockets. For now, the Clippers claim the second seed by virtue of having a better record against conference rivals. The Grizzlies fall to third and the Spurs remain fifth.
Both the Spurs and the Rockets have a chance to leapfrog the deadlock in the standings with wins on Sunday. The Grizzlies' next chance to catch up in the standings comes Monday against the Golden State Warriors. With a day off until then, may the Grizzlies get some much-needed R&R.