Same places, new faces for the rivalry between the Los Angeles Clippers and the Memphis Grizzlies and when they squared off in Saturday’s matinee game, the Grizzlies defeated the Clippers 113-104, lead by Mike Conley with 22 points and Tyreke Evans with 20.
Memphis, coming off a couple of bad losses to Orlando and Charlotte at home decided to change up the game plan for the five game road trip. Dillon Brooks was inserted into the starting lineup in lieu of Andrew Harrison and the rookie got his first career start. Not exactly caused by Brooks’ insertion into the lineup, but the offense was a lot smoother to start the game than it was in the 1st quarter of the Orlando Magic game. Brooks went 0-5 from the field in the first half, but the team offense as a whole benefited from the spacing. Memphis was able to get into the paint and get clean looks in close early on and convert.
It wasn’t a blazing start, but it was the first game in what felt like 30 years since Mike Conley and Marc Gasol both started off well offensively, scoring 14 of the Grizz 27 first quarter point. When Tyreke Evans subbed in, the offense became even more well-connected by rotating well and reacting to Evans penetrating the paint. Defensively, the Grizzlies were obviously focused on limiting Blake Griffin’s impact. Whenever he posted up, Mike Conley had no trouble closing in to pseudo-double-team Blake Griffin while sagging off Patrick Beverley on the 3-point line. The Memphis Grizzlies lead after the first quarter, 27-25.
Memphis also showed that their bench can produce even when it isn’t just one guy scoring 32 points. The scoring was more balanced, but the play of the bench was better all-around. Chandler Parsons played relatively heavy minutes early in the contest after Jarell Martin foul trouble and he was a good contributor for his minutes. Tyreke Evans after his huge game against Orlando did not let down. He scored 9 off the bench in the first half while setting up a lot of drive-and-kick situations that led to scores. Mario Chalmers was motivated early on to redeem himself from his poor showing in the 4th quarter of the prior game. He did an excellent job of creating his own shot at times while also being smart defensively.
James Ennis also had an incredible first half playing alongside the second unit even as a starter. He was 4-4 with two three-pointers in the first half, doing his job of hitting open spot-up threes while cutting to the lane and setting good screens. Mike and Marc did well the first quarter, but the rotation players kept the Memphis engine running in the second. At halftime, the Grizzlies lead the L.A. Clippers, 60-56, with both teams hovering around 50% shooting.
Chandler Parsons told @PetePranica on the bus to the arena that he hates these early games...well, he’s got 7pts, 2rebs, 2ast, 1stl— Jon Roser (@Jon_Roser) November 4, 2017
In the third quarter, the offense came out a bit stagnant when the Grizzlies couldn’t buy a bucket in the first 6 minutes. Credit should be given to the L.A. Clippers; Memphis did nothing to start the third period but settle for contested jump shots. Then, like clockwork, when bench players were put into the game with Mike and Marc, the offense had life again.
This offense continues to show it is the cliche that every local of a particular city or town says about the weather even if it isn’t different from any city: if you don’t like it, just wait 5 minutes and it’ll change. If the offense starts out poorly, they will turn it up in the 2nd half like they’re the 2015 Warriors. If the offense starts out well, they become Tennessee Vols football in the 2nd half.
Foul trouble became a big part of the 2nd half as well. Jarell Martin, Dillon Brooks, and James Ennis had logged 4 fouls before the 3rd quarter was over. This lead to a funky rotation of minutes and a lot of free throws for the Clippers. An already close game was made even closer with a ton of free throw opportunities being handed away. The L.A. Clippers had 25 FT attempts at the end of the 3rd quarter compared to the Grizzlies’ 16. Blake Griffin himself had 11 attempts at the same point in the game. Memphis tends to choose to foul instead of giving easy shots at the rim, but the foul difference was too big for it not to have an impact in the game. After a late flurry by Memphis lead by the bench, they had the lead over the Clippers after the third quarter, 87-80.
In the 2nd half and particularly the 4th quarter, Chandler Parsons made a case for his minutes restriction to be lifted. In the 3rd, Parsons and Rio stopped a Blake Griffin fast break by swiping the ball from him. In the 4th, CP hit a contested 3-pointer without a bit of hesitation then lobbed one for Brandan Wright to slam home a couple plays later. Parsons has played well doing just about everything he is asked to do for his time on the court and his role on the team. It wasn’t flashy max-contract play, but it was good basketball which is all that matters going forward.
Coach David Fizdale has repeatedly stated the importance of attention to detail regarding this team. The 4th quarter displayed that quite well for the Memphis Grizzlies. They did a great job of switching on defense without any difficulty or being exploited on any mismatches. Earlier in the game, double-teaming Blake Griffin would cause defensive rotations and help to be thrown out of whack and lead to an open three, regardless if it went in or not. This quarter the Grizzlies completely shut down open perimeter shots and forced the Clippers to work for every single shot. DeAndre Jordan is a terrific screen-setter and roll man. When Mike Conley got hit with a screen by Jordan, he fought through it as if it wasn’t there and was tightly guarding Patrick Beverley as he missed a contested mid-range jumper. Excellent defense from Mike.
His and the team’s great defense in the fourth quarter lead to the Grizzlies getting the victory 113-104.
Memphis plays the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday night.