VOL. 132 | NO. 254 | Monday, December 25, 2017
Grizzlies Top Clippers 115-112 Before Starting Five-Game West Coast Trip
By Don Wade
To finally reach double-digits wins, the Memphis Grizzlies had to put up a season-high 115 points and hang on at the end after a 16-point fourth-quarter lead melted down to three points.
But the Grizzlies managed to pull it off, beating the Los Angeles Clippers 115-112 on Saturday, Dec. 23, at FedExForum.
For so long, Clippers-Grizzlies meant intensity and often postseason survival was at stake. But the two teams that met this time are in day-to-day survival mode. Memphis upped its record to 10-23 and won for just the third time in the last 22 games.
Memphis Grizzlies center Marc Gasol (33) controls the ball against Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson (11) in the second half of an NBA game Oct. 21 in Memphis. (AP File Photo/Brandon Dill)
The Clippers fell to 13-19.
“Twenty-eight assists. That’s remarkable even though we missed a lot of shots,” said Memphis center Marc Gasol, who had 17 points, 15 rebounds and four assists and was a game-time decision because of a sore left hip. “We’re a work in progress, but it’s a lot less painful when you win.”
Losing was very possible, too.
When Tyreke Evans (30 points, 11 assists) hit a 3-pointer with 5:47 left in the fourth quarter, the Memphis Grizzlies had a 109-93 lead and looked to be on their way to cruising to a victory that would stop a three-game losing streak.
When Los Angeles Clippers guard Lou Williams (36 points) knocked down a contested three with a minute to go, the lead was down to three points. But on the Clippers’ last possession of the game, which started with 21.3 seconds left, they failed to get a shot off.
Finally, Williams made a desperation pass that was stolen by Evans and the Grizzlies had won a game to keep them warm over the Christmas holiday before starting a five-game road trip out west.
“You take the win any way that you can,” said Grizzlies interim coach J.B. Bickerstaff.
“It was a great comeback at the end when you’re down that many points,” said Clippers coach Doc Rivers. “I didn’t like the last play at all. We were looking for three, but we also could’ve got a quick two. But we basically dribbled the clock out.”
Guard Austin Rivers finished with a career-high 38 points. Williams and Rivers were the first duo to score at least 35 points each against Memphis since Washington’s Gilbert Arenas (36 points) and Antawn Jamison (35) did it in February of 2006 at FedExForum.
“He’s good and he’s got the ultimate green light,” Bickerstaff said of Rivers.
Guards Mario Chalmers and Ben McLemore each got a DNP-Coach’s Decision. With them sitting, rookie Kobi Simmons got 25 minutes on the floor and scored six points with four rebounds, three assists and a block.
“Very comfortable,” Simmons said of how he felt. “I come in and do my job: simple plays, simple pass, simple moving, things like that. I just come in and do my job and bring energy on defense.”
Asked about sitting the veterans, Bickerstaff said: “Everyone is going to get a shot, and for everyone to get a shot there are going to be nights when someone doesn’t. Tonight it was those two guys. But every time I looked over those two were cheering on their teammates. They’re unselfish guys. Kobi has earned an opportunity … it’s a matter of being professional and being quality human being and those two guys are.
“Obviously, they wanted to play,” Bickerstaff said, “but they took it well and supported their teammates.”
By the Numbers:
15: Gasol’s double-doubles this season after recording 11 last season.
20-6: The Grizzlies’ advantage on second-chance points against the Clippers.
+12: The +/- for forward James Ennis, who had 14 points off the bench.
3-18: The Grizzlies’ record this season when playing without point guard Mike Conley.
448: McLemore’s rank in the NBA in VORP this season (Value Over Replacement Player) out of 469 eligible players.