Williams stuffed the stat sheet to the tune of 40 points, 10 assists and four steals as he put the Clippers on his slender shoulders yet again. Sweet Lou accounted for the vast majority of the LAC offense, as no other Clipper finished with more than 18 points or 5 assists. It marked the first time in his career that Williams finished with at least 30 points and 10 dimes.
It wasn’t the prettiest game, as the Clippers struggled to put the Grizzlies away despite being afforded numerous opportunities to do just that. If you’re in the Clippers’ position, though, any win is a quality win. The Grizz have rampant injury woes of their own, but obviously L.A. won’t be crying over other teams missing players.
Blake Griffin wasn’t particularly assertive on offense, but he still made plays when the team needed him to do so. The big man contributed 14 points, eight rebounds, five assists and two steals, and he hit three of his five tries from beyond the arc. Milos Teodosic also set a career-high by scoring 18 points.
As for the Grizzlies, Marc Gasol finished with about the quietest triple-double you’ll ever see. The former Defensive Player of the Year is essentially Memphis’ only healthy starter, and the stat line reflects that. Gasol finished his night with 13 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists. The other four starters for Memphis tonight were Dillon Brooks, Wayne Selden, Andrew Harrison and Jarell Martin.
The story for LAC throughout the night was defense, as the Clips forced Memphis into 20 turnovers that turned into 22 points. The Clippers only turned it over 10 times and limited the Grizz to nine points off said turnovers. Williams and Wesley Johnson combined for 10 steals.
The Clips got off to a rather inauspicious start to this one, missing each of their first seven shots to fall into an early 7-0 hole. Fortunately, the Grizzlies are bad and immediately let the Clippers back into the game. LAC quickly rebounded to score 10 consecutive points in the paint to pull to within 11-10 nearly midway through the frame.
LAC was able to battle back thanks largely to the aggressive play of Lou Williams. The Clippers shot 10 foul shots in the first period alone, 6 of which came off the fingertips of Sweet Lou. He hit five of them and led all scorers with seven points at the end of the first, when the Clips held a 24-20 advantage.
It was a pretty ugly quarter to begin things, as both teams got off to identical 8-22 (36.4 percent) starts from the floor. While the ragtag Grizzlies struggled to hit shots, the Clips’ defense also deserves credit. Memphis turned the ball over five times in the game’s first 12 minutes. Williams had two steals, and Wesley Johnson contributed a pair of high-flying blocks.
Despite the Grizzlies’ continued brutal offensive play, the Clippers weren’t exactly lighting the nets on fire, either. Fortunately, they started to gain a bit of momentum halfway through the second. Williams continued to get buckets, and a layup off a beautiful feed from Milos Teodosic gave him 14 of LAC’s first 35 points. A subsequent fastbreak jam by DeAndre Jordan following yet another Memphis turnover (their eighth) put the Clips up 37-29, their largest lead of the game.
Memphis came out of a timeout and immediately got back into it, as Wayne Selden and Marc Gasol bagged back-to-back triples to quickly cut the deficit back to just two. Mario Chalmers then scored two straight buckets of his own before Milos was swatted into retirement by Gasol. A Dillon Brooks layup on the other end put Memphis back in front as the Clips’ lead evaporated shockingly quickly.
Then Lou kept Lou-ing, and the Grizzlies continued to not have any answer whatsoever. The Clippers’ MVP and (should’ve been) All-Star canned a pair of threes sandwiched around two more free throws to up his total to 22 points for the game, and, suddenly, LAC established yet another sizable lead at 56-47. As he’s done several times this season, Lou entered around the six-minute mark of the first quarter and didn’t sit down until halftime. The spurt prompted yet another timeout from JB Bickerstaff.
At the break, L.A. held a steady 58-50 lead. The Clips did a fantastic job taking care of the basketball in the half, as they coughed it up just twice, leading to no Memphis points. The Grizz, meanwhile, turned it over 11 times, leading to 13 LAC points.
The Clippers once again got off to a sluggish start to begin the third, as a 7-0 Memphis run once again closed the gap to two.
With Williams on the bench, Teodosic assumed more of a scoring role to start the third. The Serbian Sensation (patent pending) knocked down a pair of triples in addition to a nice floater to put LAC back up seven. The second three gave Milos 18 points in the game, which set a new NBA career-high for the rookie.
Blake Griffin wasn’t a huge part of the offense in this one, but when he did take shots, they typically went in. Griffin hit a three-ball with about four minutes to play in the third to give his team a 74-66 edge. It was his third conversion in four tries, though at this point he had taken just nine shots in the game.
Wes Johnson wasn’t contributing much in the scoring department, but his activity on defense was giving the Grizzlies’ youngsters fits. Johnson got up to six steals halfway through the period as the Memphis turnover count rose to 16 for the game.
While Griffin wasn’t at his most aggressive for much of the night, his eyes lit up when the Grizz tried to put rookie Ivan Rabb on him. Griffin shook Rabb out of his shoes with a vicious pump fake and capped the move with this nifty one-handed slam. More of that, Blake.
Lou hit yet another longball to put L.A. up 83-76 entering the game’s final 12 minutes.
To open the fourth, Milos and birthday boy Montrezl Harrell did their best CP3-to-DJ impression and connected on back-to-back easy buckets to reestablish LAC’s double-digit advantage.
The Clippers struggled to step on the Grizzlies’ collective throat, but they never ceded the lead. Dillon Brooks hit a three to close the gap to seven once late in the game, but Sweet Lou answered with a little floater to put Lawler’s Law into effect. The rest of the contest was a mere formality.