Daily Confidential

The Memphis Grizzlies have lost both games against the Los Angeles Clippers this season, but they're playing like a different team since firing coach Mike Fratello and promoting Tony Barone.

Barone and the Grizzlies (10-30) hope to continue improving when they take on the Clippers (18-21) on Saturday at Staples Center.

Since Barone took over Dec. 30, the Grizzlies have gone 4-6 after recording only six wins in 30 games under Fratello.

Memphis' latest victory was Wednesday's 118-102 win over Philadelphia, the only team with as few wins as the Grizzlies.

Relying on their new fast-paced style, Memphis outscored the 76ers 37-24 in the first quarter and built a 21-point lead at halftime. Reserve forward Rudy Gay finished with 23 points on 7-of-11 shooting in 28 minutes.

"Once we got out to a lead early on, we wanted to make sure that we maintained our intensity at both ends," Gay said. "In the second half, I felt like we did that."

While the Grizzlies managed to maintain a big lead against Philadelphia, the Clippers struggled to keep up their intensity in a 115-109 win over a depleted Golden State team Wednesday. Los Angeles led by as many as 18 in the fourth quarter, but the Warriors - who had only seven players available because of injuries and a trade that sent four players to Indiana - kept it close despite their thin roster.

"They still had three scoring threats on the floor," Clippers forward Elton Brand said. "But with seven guys playing for them, we should have held the lead a little better."

Brand had 27 points, 11 rebounds, three assists, five blocks and two steals for Los Angeles. Defensive specialist Quinton Ross recorded a career high in points for the second straight game with 24.

Brand and the Clippers will be facing a host of scoring threats when the Grizzlies come to town, as Memphis is averaging more than 112 points under Barone.

Mike Miller, who averaged 13.5 points in the two games against Los Angeles this season, has thrived under his new coach, averaging 24.6 points, 4.6 rebounds and 4.9 assists since Fratello's dismissal.

The Grizzlies have also gotten Pau Gasol, their star big man who missed the first 22 games of the season with a foot injury, back in the lineup.

These teams last met Dec. 9, when the Clippers won 89-82 in Memphis. The Clippers haven't won three in a row in the series since 1997, when the Grizzlies played in Vancouver. Memphis had won 11 of the last 13 meetings with Los Angeles coming into the season.

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