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Recap: Grizzlies comeback bid falls short against Clippers, 113-105

The Grizzlies started off 2018 with a failed rally against their old rival in LA.

NBA: Memphis Grizzlies at Los Angeles Clippers Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

The Grizzlies entered 2018 on the most meager of winning streaks following a New Year’s Eve 114-96 win over Zach Randolph, Vince Carter, Dave Joerger, and the Kings. But if the Grizzlies hoped to string together their first consecutive wins since before Halloween, they would have to take down a Clippers team that had won three straight since losing in Memphis on Festivus.

The Grizzlies started with a lineup of Tyreke Evans, Andrew Harrison, Dillon Brooks, JaMychal Green, and Marc Gasol, while the Clippers rolled out Milos Teodosic, CJ Williams, Wesley Johnson, Blake Griffin, and DeAndre Jordan. As expected, the Grizzlies were without the services of Mike Conley and Chandler Parsons, while the Clippers were missing Austin Rivers.

The Grizzlies opened up hot early. They started 4-4 from beyond the arc and put up 31 points in the first quarter, led by Tyreke Evans (who else?) with 10. Wayne Selden also chipped in 6 points on two threes, while Deyonta Davis and Jarell Martin each added four.

Unfortunately, the Grizzlies were unable to slow the Clippers offense. LA had 18 first quarter points in the paint, and the two Williams, Lou and CJ, combined for 17 of the Clippers 34 points in the opening frame.

The same issues plagued them in the second quarter. Defense, particularly in the paint, continued to be an issue, and as the Grizzlies’ hot shooting cooled a bit, the modest lead they built midway through the quarter vanished. Even while shooting 60.5% from the field and 70% from three at the half, the Grizzlies still trailed by five, 67-62.

Memphis once again strung together some good possessions in the second half. A 14-0 run gave the Grizzlies a lead that they would stretch to seven, helped along by stagnant offense from the Clippers. The end of the quarter undid that success, however. The Clippers ended the quarter on a 9-0 run as the Grizzlies settled for outside shots and committed bad turnovers. In spite of having more turnovers (8) than field goals (7) in the quarter, the Clippers led by two, 86-84, entering the fourth.

The Grizzlies deficit swelled to 8 as the Clippers’ run extended to 15 in the fourth, but the Grizzlies would not go quietly. After the Clippers stretched the lead to double digits, Memphis clawed back to within three.

Unfortunately, the comeback ran out of gas there. Blake Griffin's key shots, as well as poor free throw shooting from Memphis, sealed the Grizzlies fate. The game devolved to hacking, and the Clippers hit their shots to push the final margin to 8 points, 113-105.

The Grizzlies put forth a good effort, but the story of Tuesday's games were the shortcomings. When the shooting fell back to earth, the Grizzlies settled for shots; they couldn't stop Lou Williams (33 points off the bench); and when they managed to get to the line, they couldn't cash in their opportunities. 21-31 from the charity stripe won't cut it.

Following the loss, the Grizzlies will head back home, where they'll kick off a brief home stand against the Wizards (Friday) and the Pelicans (January 10). With the massive break between games, the Grizzlies will at least get to rest and maybe get another update on Mike Conley.

Notes:

  • Tuesday night was not a great offensive game from Marc Gasol. It was well into the second quarter before Gasol even took his first shot, and he had just three points on three shots at the half. Gasol finished the game with 11 points on 3-10 shooting, 5 boards, 5 assists, and 2 turnovers.
  • In spite of their early struggles, the Grizzlies and Clippers ended up with 46 paint points apiece. Not bad considering how poorly the Grizzlies started in that area.
  • Tyreke Evans led the team with 18 points, but Mario Chalmers pitched in a not-awful 15 points on 9 shots, though he hit just 1 of 4 three pointers. Jarell Martin led the team with 7 boards.
  • There were some weird goings on with the Grizzlies young players. Wayne Selden looked excellent in his early minutes, including knocking down two shots from outside. But after the second half started, Selden was banished to the bench until well into the fourth quarter. After that, he missed an open look, and it felt like his prolonged abscene from the court might have played into that. Kobi Simmons (3 minutes) and Dillon Brooks (18 minutes) also saw their minutes wane in the second half. Brooks' absence stuck out even more considering that he was 4-6 from the field and 3-4 from three in his minutes. The only logical explanation would be that Bickerstaff didn't like what he was doing on the defensive end.
  • Ben McLemore got another DNP-CD. Not great.