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Clippers unable to dig back from slow start, lose 120-108 to Grizzlies

A losing effort proves why the Clippers must learn to start games better.

NBA: Los Angeles Clippers at Memphis Grizzlies Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

It was a back and forth game, at least through the first three quarters. But the Grizzlies, who struck first and defended their lead for much of the game, beat the Clippers 120-108.

After the slow start in the first, the Clippers climbed back to within one point. A couple untimely buckets from Memphis to end the quarter, however, left the Clippers trailing 30-24 at the end of the first quarter. Some hot shooting from Luke Kennard and tough defense once again brought the lead to one a few minutes into the second, before that, too, ballooned up to a 10-point deficit.

Long story short: despite solid shooting from outside, the Clips’ inability to defend the paint led to a 56-53 deficit at the half.

The Clippers came out swinging in the third, and a Reggie Jackson pull up three tied the game up with 7:46 left in the period. That momentum didn’t take long to dissipate, though, as the Clippers found themselves trailing by eight just five minutes later.

The Clippers kept themselves in the game, always within striking distance. That is, until the Grizzlies were the first team able to string together a sizable run. They pushed their lead to 23 points in the fourth when the Clippers finally waved the white flag and brought in their deep bench.

The moral of the story is that the Clippers cannot continue starting games off so poorly. The early season has seen the Clippers continue to find themselves in early game deficits that they then must climb out off. Playing so poorly in the beginning necessitates stellar play for the rest of the game, with a much slimmer margin of error.

The silver lining? That fourth quarter allowed for the Clippers youth to get some run. Jay Scrubb, who made a couple of jumpers en route to a game high plus-minus of plus-6, and Isaiah Hartenstein, who posted 11 points and a balanced diet of rebounds, assists, steals, and blocks, made their petitions for increased playing time moving forward.

The Clippers look to get back to their winning ways tomorrow night in New Orleans.