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Grizzlies fall late to the Clippers 121-119

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Memphis led by double-digits in the fourth but lose their fifth straight

NBA: Los Angeles Clippers at Memphis Grizzlies Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

The Grizzlies took to the floor Wednesday night looking to snap their four game losing skid against the Los Angeles Clippers, who were without Kawhi Leonard (left knee soreness) after defeating Dallas on the road Tuesday night, 114-99.

Memphis would jump out to a 9-2 lead in the first 1:45 behind 5 quick points from Jonas Valanciunas leading to Doc Rivers halting the action. LA came out firing on all cylinders after that timeout, taking the lead and then some on a 13-4 run. The Grizzlies would keep it close and only trail by four going into the 2nd behind 11 total points in the 1st by Valanciunas.

The Grizzlies did what they could to keep it close, and were able to jump back out in front midway through the 2nd on a Solomon Hill three. While the Grizz shot well overall from the floor, they struggled from three until a Jaren Jackson Jr. three at the buzzer would push their percentage up to 26.7% from three for the half. That basket brought the Clipper advantage down to 64-60 headed into the break.

Neither team held onto the ball well in the half with 16 combined turnovers. Valanciunas led all scorers with 15 points, while Jaren chipped in 13 points. Ja Morant was held scoreless in the half on just one shot, but had 8 assists. On the Clippers side, Patrick Beverley had 7 assists of his own to go with just 3 points. Paul George dropped in 10 points while Montrezl Harrell has 13. LA closed the quarter on an 8-3 run.

Memphis shot the ball a little better in the third, taking a brief lead early before finding themselves tied up at 73. The teams kept it close, but more struggles holding onto the ball found the Grizzlies down the same deficit they’d been all night it seemed: 4 points. The highlight of the quarter, undoubtedly were two Brandon Clarke dunks, including this one:

The highlights didn’t stop there as Ja Morant decide he would not be outdone by his teammate. First, making a nice behind-the-back move in transition for a bucket and then launching a VERY deep three as the shot clock expired.

At that point, the Grizzlies started feeling themselves a bit, going up 7 at 101-94. Another Crowder three at 7:48 to go gave Memphis their largest lead at that point, 8 points, leading to a quick Doc Rivers timeout. The Grizzlies would keep working on that lead but with Valanciunas on the bench they lacked some of the same pop they’d had. Quietly (or not depending on your view of the game), Jonas had racked up 30 points and 16 rebounds. LA closed the Grizzlies lead down to 5 at 108-103 with 5 minutes to go.

LA would go back ahead 116-115 following a Paul George three with about 3:00 to go. Four free throws from Morant and a Beverley three saw the game tied again. Missed shots from both teams gave LA the ball with 31.2 left to go. After a missed three by George, Harrell tapped in a Lou Williams miss to give the Clippers their final advantage of the game.

Ja Morant ended the game with 20 points, all in the second half, to go with 11 assists. Jonas Valanciunas led all scorers with his aforementioned 30 points and 16 rebounds, while Jae Crowder ended with 20 points of his own. The Clippers bench scored 71 points in the contest, while starter Paul George had 22. Montrezl Harrell and Lou Williams each had 24 in the win.

Memphis is back in action Friday night with Mike Conley and the Jazz coming back to FedExForum for their second Throwback Night of the season.