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The Grind to Greatness Continues in Hollywood

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Last night the Memphis Grizzlies took on what has become one of their biggest rivals, the Los Angeles Clippers in the Staples Center. It was the second night of a back to back on a West Coast trip, coming right out of the longest All Star Break ever. Sure the Clippers are without Blake Griffin and the Grizzlies already defeated them masterfully earlier this season with him in the line-up; but to the surprise of many, the Los Angeles Clippers are looking pretty good without him in the line-up. They had won 4 of their last 5 games prior to the match-up with the Grizzlies on Monday night and were averaging wins well over 100 points. So, this wouldn’t be a cake walk at all.

First Quarter

The Grizzlies started the game with Mike Conley, Courtney Lee, Jeff Green, Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol as expected. The Clippers started with Chris Paul, JJ Redick, Matt Barnes, Spencer Hawes and DeAndre Jordan. The game started with a jump ball between Gasol and Jordan and Randolph gains possession from the tip. From there, fans watch as both teams go close to 3 minutes before either team scores. Grizzlies’ Jeff Green hits the first basket. From there, the teams go back and forth for a while, but All Star Center Marc Gasol gets two fouls early in the game (5:25 left in the 1st quarter). Momentum shifts a little as the Grizzlies adjusted, and the Clippers start to play Clippers pace which is faster than the Grizzlies want to play on any day, but certainly not on the 2nd night of a back to back. However, the quarter ended with a fast break score by Udrih to narrow the lead to 1 point, with the Clippers at 22 and the Grizzlies at 21.

Despite Gasol’s early foul trouble, he led the Grizzlies with 4 points, making 2 of his 3 attempted FGs, while Paul led the Clippers with 8 points, making 4 of his 5 attempted FGs. Grizzlies shot 40% from the field while the Clippers shot 50%. Grizzlies ended the quarter with no turnovers, while the Clippers had 4, which incidentally matched with 4 steals for the quarter for the Grizzlies.

Second Quarter

Unlike the game the night before in Portland, the Grizzlies bench came in looking great defensively. Tony Allen was well…Tony Allen. Allen played extremely aggressive at the basket making a couple lay-ups and going after his own rebounds from missed jump shots. While Jon Leuer only took two shots, he made both and he was even able to gain 3 rebounds, which was refreshing to see. To the dismay of the Grizzlies though, Paul’s mid-range jumper just seemed as if it couldn’t be missed despite defensive efforts and that helped the Clippers gain a lead of as many as 8 points. Grizzlies were, however, able to end the quarter down by 6 points with a 44-38 lead by the Clippers going into halftime.

Allen led the Grizzlies scorers with 7 points on 3/8 shooting, while Paul led the Clippers with 19 points on 9/13 shooting. Grizzlies shot the ball at 36.2% while the Clippers shot at 48.7% to end the first half. The Grizzlies had 7 three point attempts, but didn’t make any. The Clippers, however made 3 of 9. The teams had an even amount of free throws in the half with 6 attempted; Grizzlies made 4 and Clippers made 3. Grizzlies led in rebounds (23 to 22), assists (11 to 10), steals (6 to 2), points in the paint (24 to 12, bench points (19 to 11) and managed to have fewer turnovers (5 to 8). The Clippers, however, managed to have fewer fouls (4 to 6), more blocks (7 to 2) and more fast break points (8 to 7).

Third Quarter

Grizzlies’ fans have grown accustomed to seeing a rejuvenated team coming out of halftime, and let’s just say the Boys in Beale Street Blue didn’t disappoint. Defense ramped up tremendously from the first half, and offense looked better too with the Grizzlies going on a 9-2 run early in the 3rd quarter. Jeff Green made the Grizzlies’ first successful 3 point shot in the game with about 9:30 left in the 3rd quarter, and he’d hit another about 4 minutes later with about 5:30 left in the quarter. Mike Conley also hit a deep 3 from about 28 feet out. Things were looking real good…then the offense became stagnant when the Grizzlies went over 2 minutes without scoring at all. They ended the quarter outscoring the Clippers by 4 points, but still went into the 4th quarter down by 2 points, as the Clippers led 68-66.

Fourth Quarter

While Nick Calathes isn’t a huge offensive threat where shooting is concerned, he continued to work with Tony Allen to create huge defensive plays for the Grizzlies. Tony Allen continued to do Tony Allen things, making a difference defensively and wreaking incredible havoc. To help the Grizzlies cause, the Clippers 2nd unit struggled and racked up fouls early, which helped to stifle some of their defensive efforts and allowed the Grizzlies to play very aggressively.

Courtney Lee hit a huge 3 point shot with 2:28 left in the game to take the score to 88 to 80, Grizzlies. Doc Rivers took the Clippers last time out, and it seemed as if it was time to stick a fork in the Clippers because the game was done. However, true Grizzlies’ fans know our wins typically don’t come that easy. Coming out of the Clippers’ last time out called with 2:28 left on the clock, the Clippers score 7 REALLY QUICK points off a series of blunders from a foul that sent Paul to the free throw line right out of the time out; in that sequence there was a bad pass that led to a Grizzlies turnover and subsequently a made 3 point shot by Redick, and a missed bucket by the Grizzlies that led to a defensive rebound. A 15 ft jumper was made by the hot handed Paul. With 1:10 left in the game, the Grizzlies find themselves up by 1 point…after leading by 8 points just a little over a minute before. A series of plays happen during that minute, but none as profound as what happens in about the last 5 seconds. Clippers have the ball…Grizzlies are up by only 1 point…and Paul, who’s been HOT all night, has the ball in his hands looking to score. And just that quickly, like a rabbit in the hat, a ram in the bush…Captain Clutch Conley steals the ball from Chris Paul and heads the other way and is fouled on what looked to be a clear path foul (but was ruled otherwise)! The rest is history, so to speak. Conley makes his 2 free throws, of course, and Barnes attempts a pass that ends up in Courtney Lee’s hands and Grizzlies win, 90-87!

End of Game Stats

Grizzlies end the game shooting a FG% of 40.7% to the Clippers 44.3%; both teams shot 33.3% from the 3 pt line and the Grizzlies shot 73.1% from the FT line, while the Clippers shot 66.7%. Grizzlies led in rebounds (42 to 40), assists (22 to 21), steals (10 to 6), points in the paint (40 to 26), fast break points (15 to 11) and bench points (26 to 23).

What’s Next

The Grizzlies continue the West Coast road trip with a game in Sacramento on Wednesday night with a 9:00 p.m. tip (CST), and return home on Friday for another game against the Los Angeles Clippers where Flip Flops will be given to the first 5,000 fans; so make plans to attend.

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