The Grizzlies might be best remembered among Clipper fans as LA’s gritty playoff rivals, led by the intimidating frontcourt duo of Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol. Now, with players like Ja Morant and Steven Adams (who were both absent from the early-afternoon matchup) leading the team to seven straight wins, it was up to the Clippers to stop it from becoming eight. Despite Ivica Zubac’s return and the absence of the Grizzlies’ most important star, the Clippers were unable to grab the win at home, losing 123-108.
Although the Clippers do have a distaste for these early-afternoon weekend games, they started off with a tremendous amount of energy. Half of their 36 points in the first quarter came from beyond the arc, but they also had seven chances at the free-throw line, demonstrating the complete offensive performance the team put on in that quarter. Marcus Morris Sr. remained the most consistent option on that side of the floor, as he scored 15 points in the first half with three triples to go with it.
The Grizzlies closed the gap in the second quarter, though, powered by the offensive versatility of Jaren Jackson Jr., as they ultimately outscored the Clippers by 18 points in that period alone. Having a solid perimeter presence in the form of Desmond Bane and Tyus Jones certainly contributed to the 10-point lead they grabbed over the Clippers by the end of the first half.
Coffey to the cup! ☕️#ClipperNation | @LAClippers pic.twitter.com/kYiZM2dGHh— Bally Sports West (@BallySportWest) January 8, 2022
The Clippers were poised to make yet another comeback, as we’ve seen them attempt (and sometimes succeed) in the recent past. However, the recurring theme of careless turnovers prevented them from making a major dent into the double-digit deficit, at least until the third quarter was about to come to a close. The Grizzlies’ lead was cut to six with seconds left to go in the third, but a Killian Tillie three to beat the buzzer extended it to nine.
Unfortunately for the Clippers, they were unable to mount a comeback and saw the deficit grow from nine points at the start of the fourth to 25 at one point in the fourth. With this loss, the Clippers have won just one of their last five games and drop to ninth place in the Western Conference. It’s worrying to see them struggle in this fashion without Paul George, but many of their weaknesses can be easily identified and hopefully corrected soon.