Clippers-Grizzlies Preview

The Los Angeles Clippers failed in their first attempt this

season to avenge their first-round playoff loss.

Their second try might not be successful if they can’t shore up

their defense.

Los Angeles looks to avoid losing a third straight game Thursday

night when it visits the Memphis Grizzlies.

After winning the series’ first two games, the Clippers were

eliminated from in the Western Conference quarterfinals with four

straight losses to Memphis. They suffered a 106-102 home defeat in

the season’s first meeting on Nov. 18.

A similar result could be imminent based on what Los Angeles

(12-7) showed in a 107-97 loss at Atlanta on Wednesday to open its

seven-game trip.

The Clippers let the Hawks go 12 of 23 from 3-point range, with

six coming from Kyle Korver. They had held teams to 25.2 percent

3-point shooting over the last seven games.

Nonetheless, they’ve been one of the league’s worst defensive

teams overall, yielding 102.1 points per game.

“Part of it’s effort,” said point guard Chris Paul, whose team

had lost two of its previous 11 contests before dropping its last

two. “Part of it’s pride. We’ve got to step it up. It’s a long road

trip, man. This is not a good start. You’re not going to win too

many games when you let the other team shoot 51 percent from the

field.”

Los Angeles also struggled offensively in the teams’ first

meeting, shooting 39.5 percent, its second-lowest mark of the

season.

Memphis might be without Zach Randolph in addition to Marc

Gasol. The duo combined for 49 points and 24 rebounds earlier

against the Clippers.

Gasol is expected to be out at least another month with a

sprained knee, while Randolph is day-to-day after missing two games

due to ingrown toenail surgery performed Saturday.

However, the Grizzlies (9-8) got strong performances from

lesser-known commodities in their absence during a 110-91 home

victory over Phoenix on Tuesday. Jon Leuer scored a career-high 23

points and hauled in nine rebounds, while Ed Davis finished with 21

and 12 to help end the club’s first four-game home skid in nearly

four years.

Kosta Koufos also recorded his fourth double-digit rebound game

in as many starts since Gasol’s injury.

“We all have to pick it up from the first guy to the last guy on

the bench,” Davis said. ”We can’t replace Marc, and we can’t

replace (Randolph), but we all can replace some of the things they

do.”

Memphis looks like a team that could threaten Los Angeles’

ailing defense after shooting 54.8 percent from the field with 26

assists Tuesday.

“The key is to try and spread it around because I can’t do it by

myself,” said point guard Mike Conley, who had 18 points and 14

assists for his third double-double in four games. “Tony (Allen)

can’t do it by himself. We have to have everybody collectively chip

in.”

Jamal Crawford has just 19 points on 6-of-28 shooting over his

last three meetings with the Grizzlies.

The Clippers have won three of their last four regular-season

games at Memphis.