Five Takeaways: Rivers Extends Best Scoring Stretch of Career against Grizzlies

MEMPHIS — Down by 16 with six minutes remaining, the Clippers (13-19) closed the gap, knocking Memphis’ lead down to just three points. With a chance to tie the game on the final possession, LA couldn’t get a shot up, losing to the Grizzlies (10-23), 115-112.

Here are five takeaways from the Clippers loss.

Quote of the Night:

“When you have played the night before, and you put yourself in a hole, you just don’t have the energy, so hopefully that’s a lesson for us.” - Doc Rivers

1) Rivers extends best scoring stretch of career —

Coming off a career-high 36-point performance against the Rockets, Rivers produced yet again for the Clippers. He scored 16 points in the first half, and his change of pace game kept the Grizzlies on their heels, drawing and-1 opportunities at the rim and hitting pull up jumpers when they sagged too far away.

By night’s end, the combo guard finished with a new career-high 38 points on 14-of-20 shooting, with back-to-back 30-point games for the first time in his career. This is also the first time ever Rivers has scored 20+ plus in three straight games.

2) Grizzlies carve up Clippers’ defense —

The Grizzlies rank second to last in the NBA with 96.6 points per game, and they nearly reached that mark through three quarters, putting up 90 points. In the first half, the Grizzlies scored 63 points and lived beyond the arc, scoring 21 points alone off 3-pointers, shooting a scorching 58 percent. In the third quarter, the Grizzlies flipped defense into offense, forcing six turnovers in the frame and then turning those miscues into fast break chances.

DeAndre Jordan and crew limited Grizzlies leading scorer Marc Gasol to only 17 points on 7-of-16 shooting, but it was Tyreke Evans who sunk the Clippers, scoring 30 points and racking up 11 assists.

“Tyreke Evans was unguardable tonight,” Doc Rivers said

3) Lou and the “Goon Squad” —

Montrezl Harrell decided to give the Clippers bench unit a name, nicknaming them the “Goon Squad.” However, Harrell then went on to say Lou Williams is too important to be a part of the “Goon Squad.”

Williams may not be included in the “Goon Squad,” but he is leading the bench. For the second time in his career, Lou had back-to-back 30 point games. With 36 points tonight, the guard adds another tally to his NBA best 10 games with 20+ points off the bench. Also playing well off the bench, Sam Dekker scored an efficient 8 points on 3-of-4 shooting.

4) No two-ways about it —

This past offseason, the Clippers invested heavily in player development, with the debut of a their G League team, the Agua Caliente Clippers of Ontario. So far, early returns have been promising. C.J. Williams and Jamil Wilson are testaments of progress, with neither expected to contribute much to the L.A. club at the beginning of the season, but both now start and are integral to the team’s success

When the Clippers jumped out to an early lead, Williams and Wilson were instrumental, jumping in passing lanes on defense, creating turnovers and then knocking down jumpshots on the other end. Williams logged a season high 32 minutes tonight, and finished with 7 points, while Wilson contributed 3 points, 4 rebounds and 2 assists.

5) Taking advantage of the schedule —

The Clippers have not won the second game of a back-to-back this season, but moving forward, the schedule turns more favorable. Sitting three games out of the eighth seed, seven of the team’s next 11 games are against teams with worse records. And after being on the road for the most of December, 12 of the next 19 games will be played on the Clippers’ home court.

What’s Next? The Clippers play Tuesday, 12/26, against the Kings at 7:30 pm PST.

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