GAMEDAY REPORT: CLIPPERS VS. GRIZZLIES - 2/21/14
Game #57 | February 21, 2014
Fedex Forum | Memphis, TN
MEMPHIS – There was the usual hate and hostility from the FedEx Forum crowd. The usual jeers and complaints and boos. That, and fouls are customary for Clippers-Grizzlies matchups, particularly when they meet in the mid-south.
Through it all, and a poor shooting night, the Clippers had a chance late. But down by two with 49.6 seconds remaining Blake Griffin tipped away a lob attempt to Marc Gasol that landed in Zach Randolph’s waiting arms. The burly power forward laid in the fortuitous tip and after Griffin and Jamal Crawford missed open looks on the other end all of the screaming and yelling at FedEx Forum morphed into schadenfreude.
The Clippers lost to the Grizzlies, 102-96, Friday on the first game of a three-game road trip, snapping a four game regular season winning streak in Memphis.
It was the second loss in a row overall for the Clippers (37-20) against a stout Western Conference opponent out of the All-Star break. They fell, 113-103, to the Spurs Tuesday at home.
“Obviously, we have a little more history with [the Grizzlies],” said Crawford, who had 23 points and six rebounds. “We had that fight early and we had it late. Kind of in the middle we were searching for it. I think if we had it the whole time it would have been different.”
Griffin, who notched his 28th game of at least 20 points and 10 rebounds, finished with 28 points and 13 boards, but made just three field goals after a sterling first quarter. Chris Paul had 18 points, 14 assists and six rebounds.
But physicality, as it often does between these two teams, and fouls smudged the final three quarters. And while the Clippers were the primary beneficiaries of the trips to the foul line, attempting 43 free throws to the Grizzlies’ 15, they were unable to take advantage.
They missed 16 foul shots and shot just 38.8 percent from the field against the ninth ranked defense in the league in terms of defensive efficiency.
For a majority of the first quarter, the Clippers had the game at the wide-open pace they preferred. There was hardly a stoppage, a dead ball or a whistle. They led 15-9 and again by six at the end of the period. Griffin scored 15 points, shooting jumpers, getting to the rim and getting heavily booed as he typically does in Memphis.
But the game, and the Clippers’ offensive rhythm, was tilted on its ear when Memphis’ second unit entered the game. Tony Allen, playing for the first time in 21 games after being sidelined by a wrist injury, provided the energy and Mike Miller and James Johnson provided the points, scoring 22 off the bench, including 20 in the second quarter. The stretch included an incredible dunk by Johnson that he threw off the backboard to himself after getting stuck in the lane on a drive attempt.
“I thought Tony Allen, Mike Miller and Johnson turned the game around with their energy,” Clippers head coach Doc Rivers said. “From that point on, we played even, but never could break through.”
It didn’t help that the Clippers made just six field goals in the period, committed five of their 12 turnovers and missed eight of their 19 foul shots. They held a 23-3 free throw advantage at halftime, but trailed by three.
“I didn’t like our fight in the first half, and I loved our fight in the second half,” Rivers added. “But it has to be for four quarters. When things go wrong, you can’t even blink. You have to keep playing and I thought we blinked in the second quarter.”
The Grizzlies scored 60 points in the paint, led by 21 points from Randolph, including the deciding layup, and survived despite committing 30 personal fouls. They took a lead as large as 12 points in the fourth quarter, but the Clippers got back in the game, finally stringing together stops and making a few timely shots.
Matt Barnes, who scored 15 points with seven boards, nailed a 3-pointer from the right corner that made it 94-91. The Clippers and Grizzlies exchanged points from there, with Paul missing one of his four foul shots down the stretch to allow Memphis to creep ahead by four. He made two free throws at the 1:05 mark to make it a two-point game, but Randolph answered with his timely layup.
“I thought I swiped it a little bit, but I was sure,” Griffin said of the play. “If I would have been there a little earlier I probably would have blown the whole thing up.”
Griffin said if the Clippers had played with the same intensity in the middle of the game as they did in the final period, it may have never come down to that.
“I think we allowed ourselves to become passive,” Griffin said. “We were running our stuff moving the ball from side-to-side, getting what we wanted. Then we became a little bit complacent. And that can’t happen.”
Griffin scored 10 points or more in the first quarter for the 15th time this season… Paul had his 28th double-double in 38 games this season… Memphis went 13-of-15 from the line... The Grizzlies scored 22 points off of the Clippers’ 12 turnovers… Johnson finished with 15 points off the bench… The Clippers are 14-15 on the road and 6-8 against the West… The Clippers lost the regular-season series to the Grizzlies, 2-1. It was the first series loss to Memphis since the 2008-09 season… They are 12-11 against the Grizzlies since Jan. 26, 2012, including the postseason…
CLIPPERS HEAD COACH DOC RIVERS
On the game:
"Things went wrong in the second quarter. That's where the game changed. I think we came out 27-17 in the first quarter. And then they made a run with a small lineup. I thought Tony Allen, Mike Miller and James Johnson turned the game around for them with their energy. From that point on we played even, we just couldn't ever break through. I loved our fight in the first half, and i loved our fight in the second half. But it has to be for four quarters. When things go wrong you can't even blink you have to just keep playing. I thought we blinked in the second quarter and I thought that changed the game."
On the Clippers’ second unit:
"When we don't score, that's fine, but you've got to be able to get stops. Our second unit didn't kill this offense. They gave up 32 points, defensively, and that's what hurt us. I think we scored 23 points in the second quarter, so it wasn't the offense, it was the defense. We have to get better than that."
On playing after the All-Star break:
"We're just not playing well. But we'll get it back. We're not going to sound any alarms or worry about it. We've played some pretty good basketball teams, San Antonio is good and so is Memphis. You win some of these and you lose some of these, but you don't worry about it a lot."
On getting to the line:
"We got there [free throw line] a lot. We missed a lot of free throws, and even our guys who make them, missed them. I told our guys at halftime, 'So what you're missing free throws, go back up there and shoot them.' You can shoot them or you can't. And that's what I always tell my guys. Even with jump shots, if they're off, just keep shooting. If that's what you do, then you can do it or you can't. You can't start second guessing and worrying about it in the middle of the game. I was proud of Blake [Griffin] down the stretch, he got some big ones."
On tense games with Memphis:
"They're evenly matched and been in the Playoffs a lot. Once you're in a Playoff series once with a team, from that point on if you have the same group of guys, you're going to have this. And now I think we have been with them 2 or three times. So it's nothing more than that. They are evenly matched teams. The losses and the wins come down to made free throws and big offensive rebounds. All of the little things."
On Memphis' second unit:
"I thought it was Tony Allen as much as James Johnson. And Mike Miller. I thought it was those three. James made shots, but Tony Allen disrupted us. We lose a jump ball and you have to get that. We let them step in front us and that's fundamentals. Tony is a tough guy. I know him, and he's a tough kid."
CLIPPERS GUARD CHRIS PAUL (18 Points, 14 Assists, 6 Rebounds)
On his wrist:
"It happened on the last rebound that (Marc) Gasol had.
"It just got caught reaching."
On playing the Grizzlies:
"The teams are pretty evenly matched. We play a little bit similar, but not really. They are one of the few teams in the league that have two true big men. We have the same. So, it makes them one of those type of games.”
"We talked about it at halftime. It's been one of our Achilles’ heels all season. It's not just Blake (Griffin) and DJ (DeAndre Jordan), myself along with all the other guys. We have to get in there and help."
On being back from the All-Star break:
"We just have to be better defensively. The teams that we are playing against are really good teams. They have been good tests for us."
On free throws:
"We missed 16. That is not acceptable. I think I missed two. I'm not sure who else missed a few. Obviously, you want to get to the line a lot. If you get there, you have to get there and knock them down.”
On drawing from the bench:
"There's going to be nights like that. I just said that in our locker room. We are going to have nights where we are not clicking and the bench is going to have to carry us and vice versa. That's not that big of a concern because we are a team. We just have to pick each other up. We can learn from it. We fought down the stretch. We have to figure out how to come out of the gate like that."
On shooting after the procedure:
"It's tough. It's coming around.
"I just want to win so whatever I have to do to help us win, I'm with it."
On the second quarter:
"They made a run which every team is going to do. We just never got grasp of it again."
CLIPPERS FORWARD BLAKE GRIFFIN (28 Points, 2 Assists, 13 Rebounds)
On free throws:
"It was just one of those games that we missed a lot of easy ones. It starts with me. I have to do a better job at the line. I have to do a better job at finishing easy shots in order to break that ice a little bit."
On getting down in the fourth:
"We just didn't do a good job of pressuring the ball. We let them get to just whatever they wanted. The fight to get back was great. What I think killed us was the second quarter. The whole quarter, no matter who was in, it wasn't one group or another. Everybody just gave them what they wanted and that set the tone for the rest of the game after we had gotten out to a good lead."
On the Grizzlies' defense:
"I think we allowed ourself to become passive. Early, we were really running ourselves. We were moving the ball from side-to-side and getting where we wanted. Then we became complacent and didn't get where we wanted to."
GRIZZLIES GUARD TONY ALLEN (9 POINTS, 6 REBOUNDS)
On his first game back:
“I’ve never been a stat guy. I just try to come in and try to do whatever I can to help the team. Whether that’s passing out water, cheering my teammates on or just getting out on the court and just trying to do whatever I can and giving 110 percent. For the most part, it’s about the Grizzlies. We have a lot of work ahead of us.
“I kind of had butterflies in my stomach when they did that, but I got focused on the game. I knew we had to do something to show those Clippers what it really is. They beat us last time here, and we couldn’t have that today. We played hard. We played together, and that’s the story.
“Shout out to the trainer, our strength and conditioning coach. They did a good job of keeping me in the weight room, keeping me conditioned and trying to strengthen my hand. I took heed of everything they were saying and I was able to come out and feel good today.
“I just wanted to come out there and contribute. Like I said, trying to fit in where I fit in, not trying to do too much. I found my niche on the defensive end, and that’s where I want to hang my hat. It is what it is.”
On James Johnson:
“He’s come a long way. He’s playing the defensive end. That dunk today was unbelievable.”
On the game:
“That’s what I live for. Just trying to go out there and cause havoc the best way I can. When you have guys like Marc Gasol, Mike Conley and Mike Miller hitting threes and making plays and JJ (James Johnson) coming in doing what he does, it just makes it easier. It just makes you want to get out there and do a little something extra. Defense is where I got my niche, and that’s basically what I bring to the table and I was amped up to do it today.
“I just try to set the tone and be aggressive and that’s basically what we do. That’s where we have our identity as a whole, a defense first mindset, and I want to stick to that.”
GRIZZLIES FORWARD JAMES JOHNSON (15 POINTS, 4 REBOUNDS)
On his dunk:
“I pump-faked. I was going to up-and-end it. I noticed the lane was clear. Z-Bo (Zach Randolph) had his man boxed out pretty well, and I just used instincts and played basketball.”
On the neck tattoo promotion:
“I was gratefully honored to have a team and organization that wanted to do that for a guy like me. I came from humble beginnings and I wanted to do whatever it takes to win, but at the same time I didn’t want to try to do too much. I was just playing my normal role. Luckily, it came through and I played pretty well tonight.”
On Tony Allen’s return:
“I feel like the second unit, (Kosta) Koufos, Ed Davis, Jon Leuer, myself and Nick Calathes was already that solid group to bring us up and maintain the lead. But, you add a guy like Tony Allen, one of the best defensive players that I’ve ever been around and that I’ve ever seen before, and it just brings more run out. We had more fast break opportunities. He doesn’t take any plays off, and he’s always constantly moving. People think about when they come and have to go against Tony Allen. With that being said, you have to consider him as one of the best.”
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By: Eric Patten | Follow @EricPatten
So, they meet again.
When the Clippers and Grizzlies face off for the 23rd time in 25 months on Friday it will top the most games played between two opponents since the start of 2011-12. More than Indiana-Miami, more than San Antonio-Oklahoma City, more than anyone.
It makes sense, considering 13 of those meetings have come in two grueling Playoff series. The Clippers (37-19) and Grizzlies (30-23) split those, and while the Clippers are 12-10 against Memphis since Jan. 26, 2012, there has been little more than elbow room between them.
However, the Clippers have won four regular season matchups in a row at FedEx Forum and Friday will be the last matchup there of the regular season after the team’s split the first two each winning on the other’s home floor. They come in winners of three of their last four games overall, despite a 10-point loss to the Spurs on Tuesday. Memphis rallied from fourth-quarter deficit to beat the Knicks on Tuesday at home. Neither team has played since.
DeAndre Jordan vs. Marc Gasol
It’s the reigning Defensive Player of the Year against one of the leading candidates for the award this year. Gasol, who has anchored Memphis’ defense for 407 career games, missed a significant chunk of the season with a sprained MCL, an injury which he appeared to aggravate in the final game before the All-Star break. However, he played 25:48 against the Knicks Tuesday and will be available Friday against Jordan and the Clippers.
Jordan is the league’s best rebounder and leads in field goal percentage, and while Gasol has gotten the better of him some of the past matchups statistically. The Clippers have won 10 of the 18 head-to-head matchups between the two centers.
THINGS TO WATCH FOR ON PRIME TICKET
- The Clippers are nearly unbeatable when they shoot 50.0 percent or better in a game this season, winning 17 of the 18 games they have done so. Usually, that coincides with their highest scoring games. They have scored 102 points or more in all 18 of the games, their only loss coming on Randy Foye’s desperation 3-pointer in Denver on Feb. 3 (116-115). The vaunted Grizzlies defense is just 2-10 this season when allowing 102 points (one of the wins against Los Angeles, 106-102) and they are winless (0-9) when an opponent shoots at least 50.0 percent from the field.
- Blake Griffin and Zach Randolph lead their respective teams in double-doubles. Griffin has 33 and Randolph 31, including 28 in the past 44 games. Their matchup is arguably the most intriguing among the five starters, if for no other reason than because of the dichotomy in styles. They have had some physical showdowns before, but on Friday expect to see Griffin handle the ball in the center of the floor facing the basket more so than usual to help limit Randolph’s ability to use his physicality in the post and make the big-bodied forward pick up Griffin on areas of the floor he is less comfortable.
- Memphis is 11-2 at home when leading after the third quarter. However, they are a minus-0.1 overall in the period (23.3 points per game compared to 23.4 points per game by their opponents) this season. The third is the Clippers’ best period in terms of scoring margin. They are outscore opponents by 2.1 points per game in the third, the fourth best differential in the NBA.
Griffin is seeking to score 25 points or more in 10 consecutive games. He already has the most such games in Los Angeles Clippers history. He’s averaging 33.9 points per game in the month of February (second in the NBA)… The Clippers traded Antawn Jamison to Atlanta and Byron Mullens to Philadelpha prior to Thursday’s trade deadline. With Redick sidelined, they will have 11 available players… The Clippers and Grizzlies are separated by 0.1 point in net defensive efficiency. Memphis allows 102.1 points per 100 possessions (ninth) and the Clippers allow 102.2 (11th)… Memphis went 16-5 from Dec. 21 to Feb. 1, owning the best record in the NBA in that span. Still, they enter Friday’s game at No. 9 in the West… The Clippers are 14-14 on the road this season, but the Grizzlies are just 15-14 at home…
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
Chris Paul: “I’ll watch some film tonight [on Memphis], but I didn’t watch games when I was out. Then we went right into the All-Star break.”
Mike Miller: “In all reality this is the first year, this city and this organization has had the expectations that they have. It’s not going to be easy. It’s a lot easier when there are no expectations because it’s easy to step out there and win everyone’s excited. Now, there are consequences when you lose. For me, I can try to help these guys as much as possible as far as what it’s like.”
LAC: J.J. Redick (bulging disc, lower back) will miss his sixth straight game.
MEM: Tony Allen (wrist) is expected to return after a 21-game absence and come off the bench behind Courtney Lee, according to the Memphis Commercial Appeal. Allen is officially listed as a game-time decision. Forward Quincy Pondexter (foot) remains out.
REGULAR SEASON SERIES HISTORY
All-Time: 36-35 (Home: 22-14, Road: 14-21)
Road Streak: Won 4
Largest Margin of Victory:
LAST TIME OUT