Five Takeaways: Clippers Dominate Grizzlies in Win
Los Angeles - A focused Clippers (39-26) control nearly from beginning to end in a commanding victory over the Grizzlies (36-29)
Here are five quick takeaways from the Clippers 114, 98 win in Memphis.
1) Clippers Swarming Defense
The Clippers brought a renewed defensive effort, collapsing hard in the paint and running shooters off the line to hold the Grizzlies to 98 points. Coach Doc Rivers condemned the Clippers team defense the previous night in Minnesota, blaming the Clippers effort as the focal point for the loss. Tonight, Los Angeles held the Grizzlies to 44-percent shooting, and did not allow a three pointer till 3 minutes left in the third. After questioning the Clippers’ spirit, Chris Paul spearheaded the defensive effort, holding the highest paid NBA player, Mike Conley, to 13 points points on three of 14 shooting.
2) Ball Movement
With the Clippers’ offense sputtering in recent games, the emphasis tonight was clearly getting back to basics. Instead of forcing difficult, contest shots, the team found the open man, 24 assists. One particular possession in the second quarter saw J.J. Redick, Jamal Crawford, Chris Paul and then Crawford, again, pass up a shot before the ball ended in Redick’s hands for a corner three. Blake Griffin lead the team with eight assists, finding teammates in transition and from the post Chris Paul dished seven assists, using high screen after high screen to hit teammates right in stride, sometimes before the pass recipient even knew they were open. The Clippers unselfishness unlocked their offense and prevented Grizzlies finding a defensive flow.
3) Shooting Guards Shoot Well
J.J. Redick and Austin Rivers both scored their season-highs against the Grizzlies earlier this season, and once again dominated the Grizzlies. While both guards were effective, how the two players earned their points were quite different. Rivers attacked the rim, using multiple jabs, a quick first step, and a silky crossover to get by the initial defender. Scoring most most of his buckets in paint, Rivers recorded a team-high 19 points on seven of ten shooting, his 11th 20-point game on the season, more than any of his previous seasons combined. Redick injured his elbow in the loss to Minnesota, but showed no signs of an issue, making three of five shots, and all eight of his free throws. Redick sprinted off screens, using the Grizzlies awareness and attention toward the sharpshooter to create numerous opportunities for his teammates.
4) Scoring in the Paint -
Five games in a row the Clippers scored less points in the paint than their opponent, accumulating 34 points to the Grizzlies 50. This is not a new trend for the team, as the Clippers averaged 38 points per game in the paint last season, about a point less than this season. The Clippers rank 27th in the league, but are in good company, as the Cavaliers and the Spurs also rank in the bottom five of the league. With the defensive anchor DeAndre Jordan manning the middle, the team ranks 12th in points per game allowed in the paint, better than championship contenders Cleveland and Golden State.
5) Playoff Implications
The win over the Grizzlies place the Clippers two games back of the Utah for the fourth seed, while the Grizzlies drop to seventh in the West, tied with Oklahoma City, however the Thunder have the head-to-head edge. With the Rockets five games ahead of Los Angeles, the Clippers and Jazz seem destined to play each other in the first round, and their game Monday plays a huge factor in determining who gets home court.