MEMPHIS -The defensive effort that led to transition buckets and two straight road wins in the state of Florida didn’t follow the Clippers to Memphis.
After allowing 90 points to the Magic and 93 points to the Heat to start the road trip, the Clippers (7-5) let the Grizzlies (12-2) score at will in a 107-91 loss. They allowed Memphis to shoot 49.4 percent from the floor and were outscored in the paint, 52-32.
While the first two games of the road trip provided a nice start, guard Jamal Crawford knows this was an example of how the Clippers’ issues can take time to fix.
“Even though you show signs, it’s not going to happen overnight,” Crawford said. “If you go on a trip and can go .500, that’s a good trip. For us, we have a chance to do a lot better than that.”
Guard J.J. Redick said the loss wasn’t more disappointing because of how promisingly the road trip started; it just hurt to lose that way, regardless.
“It’s discouraging, period,” Redick said. “We got our butts kicked. I haven’t even thought about Wednesday or Thursday. It’s just discouraging.”
There wasn’t an answer for Grizzlies center Marc Gasol, who finished with 30 points and 12 rebounds, contributing most of the damage in the discrepancy in the paint. Gasol and Zach Randolph combined for 40 points and 20 rebounds, while Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan combined for only 14 points and seven rebounds in the loss.
However, head coach Doc Rivers said the interior presence of the Grizzlies wasn’t all on the Clippers’ big men.
Rivers said the Clippers’ guards got pulled into the paint too often, forcing Griffin, Jordan and the bigs to help out too often and get off their guys, allowing Memphis to thrive near the basket.
“You get your bodies off of those two big guys, they’re going to crush you,” Rivers said. “I thought that happened. I felt bad, because I felt like it looked like DJ and Blake and our bigs, but I thought it was more a team breakdown than it was those two guys.”
The Clippers got down quickly and trailed, 50-43, at halftime. At that point, the Clippers were shooting only 35 percent and letting the Grizzlies shoot 50 percent.
“We missed a lot of good shots, we missed a ton of free throws,” said head coach Doc Rivers. “Then I thought once they got the lead, they kept playing their way and I thought we came apart a little bit offensively. We didn’t get back into our system, and once they got the lead, it was hard to get back into the game.”
Chris Paul scored 22 points, all after the first quarter, to help keep the Clippers in the game. But the Clippers fell behind again and trailed by 25 points in the fourth quarter, when the bench sparked a 10-0 run and forced the Grizzlies to bring Gasol back in.
But the Clippers couldn’t cut the deficit back to single digits the way Paul had two different times in the third quarter.
“Halftime, you look at the score, we’re down, and if you look at the shots we had, I wasn’t that upset at it,” Rivers said. “I thought the second half, we kind of lost our way a little bit. But hey, give them credit. They came in and beat us. Now we have to go back on the road.”
The Clippers are now off to Charlotte after starting the road trip 2-1.
NOTES: The Clippers shot just 28 percent from 3-point range in the loss … Six Memphis players scored in double digits … J.J. Redick, Jamal Crawford and Paul all finished with at least 15 points … Spencer Hawes led the Clippers with 10 rebounds, but they were outrebounded, 52-32… The Clippers had eight second chance points to the Grizzlies’ 17 … The Clippers only had 10 turnovers in the loss.