|CLIPPERS / GRIZZLIES RECAP|
- RYAN MENEZES
LOS ANGELES -- The Clippers snapped a season-high three-game losing streak in a 101-85 win over the Grizzlies on Saturday afternoon, finding their offensive and defensive grooves in the process.
Memphis entered the game in a virtual tie with the Clippers (27-21) for fourth place in the West, but the Grizzlies (25-21) were smothered early and couldn’t get back into the game. Meanwhile, the Clippers cracked the century mark in scoring for the first time since Mar. 9, a stretch of nine consecutive games.
“It felt good to get the win tonight,” Chris Paul said. “Looking forward, we have a five-game home stand and we need every win.”
Difference Maker: Randy Foye held true to his history of performing better when in the starting lineup. With the lineup shuffled due to Mo Williams’ strained left big toe, Nick Young moved to a reserve role and Foye was back starting. The 6-foot-3 guard delivered with 18 points, half coming in the third quarter when he hit three 3-pointers. On the season, during which Foye has played all but one game, Foye has averaged nearly six points per game more as a starter (30 games) than as a reserve (17).
Turning Point: When the Clippers went on a 12-0 run to close the first quarter, it was as if a road trip’s worth of bad memories was erased. The Clippers struggled closing out quarters against the Pacers, Thunder and Hornets and that played a factor in the three-game losing streak. The Grizzlies went from down four to down 16 in the span of three minutes before the first quarter horn and the Clippers wouldn’t let them get anywhere near the lead again. It was early enough to go unnoticed, but important nonetheless.
“Our defense early in the game was pretty good,” Paul said. “Our defense has been horrendous, pretty much giving up everything. Tonight we put it all together and got the win.”
Stat Line of the Night: Blake Griffin had 20 points, 10 rebounds and 5 assists including a handful of highlight plays. The first came on a contested left-handed slam off a well-placed alley-oop from Chris Paul. The second was a one-handed reverse dunk after he spun baseline on Memphis’ Dante Cunningham. Griffin also had a markedly better day from the free-throw line, hitting 8-of-12.
More Stats: Caron Butler had his best shooting day in more than a week, making 6-of-11 shots for 12 points. Butler shortened his range, opting for drives to the basket rather than long jumpers. Three of his makes came at the basket and he attempted just one 3-pointer.
Nick Young gave the bench the scoring boost it needed by chipping in 16 points, the most he’s had in five games in a Clipper uniform. Young’s day was highlighted by a 360-degree spinning reverse layup that was the team’s last basket in the game.
Paul had 19 points and 13 assists for his 14th double-double of the season.
Hot: Foye, who hit four of his eight 3-point attempts.
Not: Gilbert Arenas. The Grizzlies’ newly signed backup guard struggled to keep his handle and find his shot. Memphis was outscored by 15 with Arenas on the floor. Arenas had two points, two turnovers, and committed three fouls.
Injury update: Williams was sitting on the bench in uniform Saturday, but was ruled out beforehand with a sprained left big toe suffered in Thursday’s loss in New Orleans. Head coach Vinny Del Negro said that the Clippers’ sixth man would be sidelined for the foreseeable future.
“We got good results back, that there wasn’t a tear or anything like that,” Del Negro said. “But it’s a pain tolerance thing. He’s going to get a lot of therapy. I don’t want to say it’s day-to-day. It’s going to be a little bit.”
On staying focused coming off a losing streak:
Foye: “We have to just stay in it as a team. It is important for us to play defense as a team. So that was our main focus coming in, defense, defense, defense.”
Del Negro: “You have to fight through it, and I thought our guys did a good job with that. Every win is important, but Memphis is a good team. But I think we played pretty consistent and solid throughout tonight. I was proud of the way these guys fought.”
On putting the fun back in games:
Young: “Today was a step in the right direction in getting the fun back. You have to smile out there a little bit because everyone is on edge. Today we made the effort and had fun and didn’t worry about the negative things.”
On the Grizzlies’ play:
Memphis guard Mike Conley: “It’s inexcusable. The Clippers needed a win just as bad as we did. They played with a sense of urgency and they scrapped for everything. They wanted it more than we did and there’s no excuses for that.”
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