Game Preview: Clippers look to Regain Winning Momentum
The Clippers have spent the last month climbing their way back into playoff contention.
Now, their mission is to stay there.
The Clippers (23-24) are currently ninth in the Western Conference, 1.5 games behind Denver for the eighth spot. L.A. will see their way through an important two-game road trip this weekend, starting with a matchup with the Grizzlies (17-30) in Memphis on Friday, with the Clippers looking to gain back their winning momentum as the All-Star break approaches.
Between Dec. 20 and Jan. 17, the Clippers put together a league-best 12-3 record, including six straight wins from Jan. 8-17. In that six-game stretch, L.A. earned impressive wins over Golden State, Houston, and Denver.
But since a 109-104 win over the Nuggets last Wednesday, the Clippers have dropped three straight, including two at home, to Minnesota on Monday and Boston on Wednesday.
During their recent six-game winning streak, Clippers opponents scored 106.5 points per game. Over the last three, opponents have scored 121.3 points per outing.
However, the Clippers’ defense should take a turn for the better with the return of center DeAndre Jordan, who missed five consecutive games with a sprained left ankle before returning on Wednesday against Boston. Jordan is the NBA’s second leading rebounder (14.8) and serves as the team’s anchor on the defensive end.
Another bright spot for L.A. has been the play of forward Blake Griffin. Griffin is averaging 25.8 points, 9.2 rebounds, 5.6 assists and 1.2 steals, while shooting 50 percent from the field, over the last five games. He notched his second triple-double of the season on Monday, registering 32 points, 12 rebounds and a career-high 12 assists in a loss to the Wolves.
Clippers guard Lou Williams is also continuing to shine for L.A. He has scored at least 20 points in 10 straight games off the bench, the longest streak of any active player the NBA. In the month of January, Williams is averaging 28.4 points, 6.1 assists and 1.2 steals.
The Clippers and Grizzlies have faced off three times this season, and Friday will represent the conclusion of their season series. Memphis defeated L.A. at STAPLES Center on Nov. 4, 113-104, and then defeated the Clippers for a second time on Dec. 23, 115-112, this time in Memphis.
L.A. bounced back to earn its first victory over the Grizzlies this season on Jan. 2, 113-105, at STAPLES Center. Friday, the Clippers will look to tie the season series.
Friday’s game is set to tip-off at 5 p.m. PST.