Mired in their longest losing streak of the season, the Memphis Grizzlies try to snap out of their slump Friday when they host the Los Angeles Clippers, a team that is also in the midst of a frustrating stretch.
Memphis (6-15) dropped its fifth straight Tuesday with a 113-103 loss to the Detroit Pistons. Detroit built a 37-22 advantage at the end of the first quarter and the Grizzlies never recovered, marking the fifth straight game they have fallen behind after one quarter.
"They are a good team, but I expected us to play better to start the game," coach Marc Iavaroni said.
Rudy Gay, who Iavaroni said was suffering from the flu, led the Grizzlies with 20 points and eight boards while Pau Gasol finished with 18 points and eight rebounds.
Gay said the team can't keep making excuses for its poor play.
"We just all have to be on the same page," he said. "Saying we're a young team is getting old. We have to gel fast and start getting better."
The streak hasn't been all Gay's fault. The second-year swingman is averaging 23.0 points on 50 percent shooting in the last five games.
The Grizzlies were hoping a return home after a three-game road trip would help end the slump. Memphis dropped to 4-6 at home with Tuesday's loss.
The Grizzlies face a much tougher schedule after Friday's contest. They face Orlando, Golden State, San Antonio and Detroit - all teams with winning records - over the next week.
While the Clippers (8-13) have the worst record among the teams Memphis is about to face, Darko Milicic said the Grizzlies aren't looking at Friday's game as any easier than the others.
"There's no easy nights or teams, you have to get ready for everybody the same," he said.
The Clippers come into Friday's game having alternated wins and losses in their last four games following a seven-game losing streak. Los Angeles lost 108-103 to the Charlotte Bobcats on Wednesday.
After leading 55-43 at the half, the Clippers were outscored by the Bobcats 36-17 in the third quarter. Los Angeles regained the lead with under six minutes left, but faded down the stretch.
"We really couldn't control the pace and keep them from getting fast break points, alley-oops dunks and things like that," forward Corey Maggette said. "We couldn't slow the game down."
Maggette finished with 23 points to lead the Clippers. Chris Kaman had 17 points and 13 rebounds while Tim Thomas and Dan Dickau added 16 points each.
Injuries continue to hurt Los Angeles, however. Already playing without Elton Brand and Shaun Livingston, Sam Cassell has missed the last eight games with a calf strain. He isn't expected to play Friday.
The Clippers won all three meetings with the Grizzlies last season after losing 11 of the previous 13.
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