GAMEDAY REPORT: CLIPPERS VS. GRIZZLIES - 11/18/13
Game #11 | November 18, 2013
Staples Center | Los Angeles, CA
LOS ANGELES – Chris Paul was spitting mad.
Actually, he was spitting blood into a paper cup after getting kicked in the chops by Tony Allen as he drove past the Grizzlies rugged defender in the first half Monday night.
Allen was ejected on the play, but Paul’s angst and his near triple-double weren’t enough to overcome one of the season’s poorest shooting efforts for the Clippers.
They were hit both literally and figuratively by Memphis, and fell, 106-102, at Staples Center, snapping a four-game winning streak.
The loss ended a nine-game overall winning streak at home for L.A. (7-4) and spoiled their 100th consecutive home sellout.
It was the 21st time since Jan. 2012 that the Clippers and Grizzlies (6-5) have faced off, a series that has included 13 playoff games. The two have effectively played to a draw with L.A. owning an 11-10 record over that span.
“They hit first tonight,” Clippers head coach Doc Rivers said. “But in the games we hit first, not physically hit, but established the pace and the way you’re going to play, we’ve won those games. In the games that they’ve dictated it, they’ve been close but they’ve won most of them.”
Paul finished with 18 points, nine rebounds and 11 assists, narrowly missing his 14th career triple-double. Blake Griffin added 23 points and 11 rebounds and DeAndre Jordan had his fifth game with 16 or more rebounds, grabbing 16 boards in a team-high 42 minutes.
But the Clippers shot just 39.5 percent and Zach Randolph had 26 points and 15 rebounds for the Grizzlies (6-5), who defeated the Clippers for the fifth time in a row dating back to the final four games of the 2013 postseason.
“We just kind of fell into that slow grind and that’s not going to work for us like we talked about,” Griffin said. “We can play that way, but not as well as we can the other way.”
It seemed every time the Clippers made a move to capitalize on momentum that was fleeting throughout most of Monday’s game, the Grizzlies had an answer. It didn’t help that L.A. hovered near 40 percent shooting for most of the night with Paul, J.J. Redick and Jamal Crawford missing 15 of their first 18 shots.
“I give them a lot of credit,” Rivers said. “I thought they contested a lot of shots.”
Memphis earned an early 12-point lead and despite several attempts by the Clippers to break through, including a pair of free throws by Matt Barnes that gave them an ever brief two-point lead in the third quarter, the game felt undoubtedly in the Grizzlies’ command.
“We made some runs,” Rivers said, “but when the game was close I thought we had chances to win the game. Even if we would have won the game, I never felt like we controlled it. They dictated the game throughout.”
Memphis did so by utilizing their big-man combination of Randolph and Marc Gasol to their advantage. Griffin played through foul trouble, but whenever the Grizzlies had a perceived size advantage or mismatch in the post they took advantage.
Gasol scored 23 points with nine rebounds and eight assists. He neutralized a Clippers run in the third quarter by scoring or assisting on five consecutive possessions.
The Clippers hung around, though, thanks to a 27-of-32 effort from the foul line and stringing together 61 points in the second and third quarter combined. Darren Collison drained a flat-footed 3-pointer to tie the game at 81 at the third-quarter buzzer, but Memphis opened the fourth on a 9-2 run.
“We didn’t get as many consecutive stops as we’d like,” Paul said. “We could never really get that up-tempo style that we wanted because they were sort of just coming down and running their offense and what they wanted to.”
The Clippers have led the NBA in scoring through 10 games, mainly by establishing a pace that has resulted in a high volume of offensive possession, efficiently averaging 110.0 points per game. On Monday, they managed 102 points on 86 shots. Collison said that despite the frustration of having an off shooting night, the team cannot allow that to impact other facets of their game.
“We can’t really rely on that,” said Collison, who had eight points and two assists off the bench. “I think the biggest thing is that we’ve got to play better defense. Our offense is going to come and go throughout this 82-game season, but defensively we can get multiple stops once we put our mind to it.”
Paul’s double-double was one for the record books. It was the 11th in as many games, matching Magic Johnson’s NBA record for most games with at least 10 points and 10 assists to start a season. As for, Allen’s flagrant foul near the end of the first quarter, Paul held no ill will, upset at the time or not.
“I know Tony, he didn’t do it on purpose,” Paul said. “I went mute for a while because I hate getting hit in the lip more than anything. I just hate having a busted lip. I know it was unintentional and didn’t expect him to get ejected. I think he thought I was going to throw the ball into the corner and that’s a natural instinct (to kick your leg up).”
Griffin has had at least 20 points and 10 rebounds in eight of his last 10 games… Barnes was scratched in the left eye by Randolph as the two were fighting for a loose ball. A small laceration was visible but he said he’ll be “alright.”… The Clippers had 16 offensive rebounds, including eight by Jordan… Paul and Mike Conley are two of the league’s leaders in steals over the last three years. Neither of them registered one on Monday… It is just the second game this season the Clippers have shot worse than 40 percent. They fired at a 37.6-percent clip in their loss at Orlando on Nov. 6. They also had a season-low 20 assists against both Orlando and Memphis…
Clippers forward Blake Griffin on why it was difficult for the Clippers to impose their style on the game:
“I think we really need to focus in on the game plan and the things we talked about. I thought we did a poor job of coming out and doing the things that we talked about in shoot-around and pregame.”
Clippers center DeAndre Jordan on why rebounding battle is so important against Memphis:
“[We need to] limit them to one shot. We can’t give up a lot of offensive rebounds to a team like this because they crash every time. They have great bigs. If we let them get offensive rebounds, it will hurt us in the long run.”
Clippers head coach Doc Rivers on his team’s overall performance:
“Tonight was not a good night for us. That’s fine. We’re going to have more nights like those but hopefully have more better ones. Having said that, it’s good for me to see too, but the pace of the game has to be more of ours. That doesn’t mean we have to run, but we have to get more movement. We were stagnant a lot tonight offensively.”
Clippers point guard Chris Paul on Blake Griffin and their relationship:
“Everything, his left-hand jump hook, his explosiveness, his shot. He’ll tell you in a heartbeat every time I kick it to him, I tell him, ‘Shot. Shoot it. Shoot it.’ Because nobody works on it as much as he does, so I have the utmost confidence in him. It’s fun because we’ve had the opportunity to grow together and I think we understand each other a lot more and we’re just going to continue to get better.”
Grizzlies guard Tony Allen on first-quarter ejection:
“I did see the replay. In the midst of the battle, it was unfortunate for myself. I was trying to just make a play, leaving a great shooter like Jamal Crawford knowing Chris Paul’s tendencies. He sees everybody that’s open and you know, I accidentally kicked him into the head, but I’m pretty sure he knows that it was accidental, and that isn’t my style of play. It was just unfortunate that I couldn’t help my team throughout the game. Thank god that they had my back, and they came out and fought and played hard throughout the game.”
CROWN ROYAL SHOT OF THE GAME
By: Eric Patten | Follow @EricPatten
LOS ANGELES – More of the same intensity. More of the same vitriol. And more of the same contrasting styles.
The coaches may have changed and the Clippers (7-3), who have started 5-0 at home and are on a four-game winning streak overall, and Grizzlies (5-5) may have a few new pieces on their respective rosters. But the stylistic differences remain. When the rivals meet for the 21st time in less than two years on Monday night at Staples Center, it truly will be more of the same.
“I expect the same thing,” said Blake Griffin, who has been a part of all of the previous 20 games against Memphis, including 13 in the Playoffs. “But we’ll be ready. We’re looking forward to it and I know they are. It’s not quite the Playoffs yet, but with them it’s a physical game and it will be the same type of style.”
That Playoff-type atmosphere has been commonplace for the Clippers. They have played six games against teams with seven wins or more through Sunday. Not to mention a pair of road games in hostile surroundings. With Memphis in town for the first time since eliminating the Clippers from the postseason in six games, the atmosphere will be like using a bonfire to warm a 16-ounce can of soup.
“You can watch Memphis against anyone and it’s going to be contentious,” Clippers head coach Doc Rivers said. “That’s just the way they play. They’re physical. They bump. Clearly, we didn’t handle it well [in the Playoffs]. We have an opportunity on Monday, but that’s still early in the season.”
Eight players remain from last year’s team, including forward Matt Barnes, who says they are looking forward to Monday night.
“Anytime you go up 2-0 in a playoff series and get swept out, that still sticks with you,” Barnes said after the Clippers’ 110-103 win over Brooklyn on Saturday. “I circle these games so I’m going to be excited. I’m sure they’re going to be excited. So, it’s going to be a fun game.”
DeAndre Jordan vs. Marc Gasol
Jordan entered the season with a goal of winning his first Defensive Player of the Year. On Monday he’ll take on the last guy to win the award.
Gasol got the best of Jordan in the postseason the last two seasons, outscoring him 16.2 points per game to 3.6 and grabbing 7.1 rebounds to Jordan’s 5.2. However, Jordan looks like a different player through three weeks than at any point in those run-ins. For one, Gasol was playing almost 16 minutes per game more and was a focal point of the Grizzlies high-low offense. Now, Jordan is on the court more and in turn affecting the game from a defensive standpoint.
“I think a lot of things D.J. does do not show up on the stat sheet,” Chris Paul said. “He makes a guy miss a shot. There’s not a stat for contested shots or changed shots. At times, it’s not going to show up on the stat sheet but we need D.J. to keep doing what he’s doing.”
Through 10 games, Jordan is third in the league in rebounding. He blocked five shots on Saturday. He is the anchor of the defense, much like Gasol is for Memphis.
The key on Monday could be Jordan continuing his defensive dominance against the skilled 7-foot-1 Gasol. Since 2010-11, the Grizzlies are 10-3 in the regular season when Gasol has a 20-point, 10-rebound game, including one win against Jordan and the Clippers.
THINGS TO WATCH
1. “No mas.” In explaining the way the Clippers need to play against the Grizzlies, Rivers drew analogy to Sugar Ray Leonard’s famed battles against Roberto Duran.
“We want to play our game,” Rivers said. “We don’t want to be Sugar Ray vs. Duran one.”
In the initial bout between Leonard and Duran, Leonard attempted to prove he could defeat the No. 1 welterweight contender at his own game, abandoning the quick and darting style that made him one of the greatest fighters of his generation for Duran’s slower paced, flat-footed style. The fight was a remarkable spectacle, but Duran ultimately won via unanimous decision.
Rivers obviously would prefer the Clippers play the role of Leonard in the rematch, when the 1976 Gold medalist overwhelmed Duran with his speed and buried him the eighth round when Duran succumbed in the final second by way of a technical knockout, turning to the referee and saying, “No mas” (Spanish for “no more”).
“We’ve got to play at a better pace [than Memphis] on offense that’s for sure,” Rivers said.
The front court duos of Jordan and Griffin and Gasol and Zach Randolph embody the stylistic differences between the teams. And even as Grizzlies head coach Dave Joerger has asked for a more up-tempo offense, the Grizzlies inherently are the same. They have won two games in a row, effectively riding 50 points and 21 rebounds combined from Randolph in the post. Griffin has registered seven 20-point, 10-rebound games in the last nine outings as well. On Monday it will bode well for the Clippers if Griffin is Leonard to Randolph’s Duran, in fight No. 2 at least.
That sounded as though something Griffin understood after the Clippers were eliminated last season.
“We’re on to a new season and we’re on to new things, but we have to remember the things that we learned from that series,” Griffin said. “I think we have a team that matches up well and we need to do a good job inside, defending, really working our way inside out.”
2. Space Jam. The Clippers have more outside shooting than when they last played the Grizzlies, so expect to see the league’s highest-scoring offense getting it done in transition, but not just by dunking the basketball. With J.J. Redick, who is averaging 17.1 points per game (third on the team), and Jared Dudley, the Clippers have an ability to run to the 3-point line on the break. The presence of perimeter shooting could regulate Memphis’ ability to load in the paint to stop Paul’s penetration and Griffin’s plays at the rim.
Redick, Dudley, Byron Mullens and Darren Collison are new to the rivalry. But Barnes said it would not go unsaid. Barnes told them, “The intensity and the energy of Monday’s game is going to be like nothing we’ve faced this year, so be ready.”
Redick understood from watching the games on television the last two seasons.
“It’s obviously a little bit of a rivalry,” Redick said. “It’s going to be I expect like a Playoff game.”
If the Clippers sell out Monday’s game it will be the 100th in a row for the franchise, including the regular season and Playoffs. It is the sixth longest active streak in the NBA… The Clippers are the best team in the Western Conference in scoring margin in the third quarter at +39. Memphis has been outscored by 2.3 points per game in the third through 10 games… The Clippers are 42-11 since last season when they win the rebounding battle. Memphis, traditionally one of the league’s top rebounding teams, is just 4-3 this season in games they’ve had more rebounds than their opponent… With 10 points and 10 assists, Paul can match Magic Johnson’s NBA record with 11-straight points-assists double-doubles to start the season…
THEY SAID IT
Chris Paul: “Doc said it before the season even started that we’ve got to get off to a good start because our schedule is tough. We’ve got to keep taking it one game at a time because it doesn’t get any easier. It’s Memphis, at Minnesota, OKC.”
COMING AND GOING
LAST TIME OUT