A game that looked to be ripe for the taking for the Memphis Grizzlies turned out to be not so ripe after all.
The Los Angeles Clippers were without All-Stars Chris Paul and Blake Griffin, but it did not matter as they cruised to a victory over Memphis, who left LA going 0-2 against the teams that play at Staples Center.
In the absence of Paul and Griffin, the Clippers saw other players step up, such as Austin Rivers, in order to deliver a win for the home team.
The Grizzlies have now lost seven of their last 11 games, and this was one that was needed to end their road trip to the entertainment capital of the world, falling by a score of 115-106 in this contest.
Let’s get into how this happened.
The Point Guard Match-Up
Without Paul, whom Mike Conley has played very well against this season, in uniform for LA, one would think that the Grizzlies would be able to dominate the match-up at the floor general position. Right?
Conley had some pretty numbers on his stat line, but he struggled in shooting and Rivers had one of the best games of his career.
A line of 17 points, 7 rebounds, and 12 assists looks very good for Conley, but he shot only 5-for-16 from the floor. He was certainly not bad in this game, but the great performance by Rivers really is a knock on how Conley played.
The son of his own head coach, Doc Rivers, might have been the best player on the floor on this night. The younger Rivers finished with 28 points, 7 assists, and 4 rebounds, and shot very efficiently as he went 10-for-16 from the field.
He was relentless in attacking the basketball and got almost whatever he wanted when attacking the hoop.
Fellow Clippers point guard Raymond Felton was also very good in this game. Felton finished with 11 points, 6 assists, and 4 steals of his own. But he wasn’t the only secondary ball handler that played a nice role.
Andrew Harrison made the most of his 20 minutes, racking up 7 points, 7 assists, and 5 rebounds, while making both of is field goal attempts.
The point guard play for Memphis was not bad in this game. But it was not as good as LA’s was, due to the masterful performance of Rivers.
The Rest of the Pieces
This game also featured a match-up between two of the NBA’s best centers.
And the Clippers won this one, too.
Our own Marc Gasol also posted a pretty stat line, with 23 points, 6 assists, and 4 rebounds on 9-of-16 shooting. But DeAndre Jordan feasted on him in this game.
Jordan had a huge double-double with 18 points and 20 boards on 7-of-10 shooting. The paint belonged to Jordan, as he got any rebound that he so pleased and was great in pick-and-roll sets.
While Gasol’s line is nice, he had a team-worst -18 plus-minus, while Jordan posted a +10. Unfortunately for the Grizzlies, it was clear who was the better big man tonight.
As for the rest of the supporting casts, each team had some bright spots.
The Grizzlies had 3 other players, outside of Conley and Gasol, who scored in double-figures. Zach Randolph (13 points), Tony Allen (13 points), and Vince Carter (11 points) all had solid contributions in the area of scoring, but did not affect the game in other ways, although Carter did grab 7 rebounds.
The Clippers had very nice scoring nights from both Jamal Crawford and JJ Redick. Crawford provided a big 22 points off of the bench, while Redick had 19 of his own in the starting lineup.
The Memphis offense in this game was not bad. They scored 106 points and shot 39% from three-point range. On a lot of nights, that is good enough to win. But this was a bad defensive effort by the Grizzlies, who allowed the Clips to shoot 51% without their two best players.
The Grizzlies are in a bit of a slide. And it is not going to get any easier.
On Friday, the Grizz will travel to Oracle Arena to take on the Golden State Warriors. It is safe to say that Memphis will have to play better on both sides of the ball, especially defense, in order to win that game.
After that, the next three games are against Utah, Oklahoma City, and Houston.
If things don’t get corrected, then the Grizzlies could go off of the rails. This is a great test for coach David Fizdale, to see if he can regroup quickly and get some wins in that terrible gauntlet.
It is not time to panic, but it could be soon if the team doesn’t pick up some wins in the next four games.