MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The Memphis Grizzlies dropped their second straight game, 97-79, on Friday to the Los Angeles Clippers. Memphis (41-16) cut a 15-point lead to five in the fourth quarter, but a hack-a-DeAndre-Jordan-rally fell short. It snapped a seven-game home win streak.
1. Slow-starting starters never get it together
At halftime, Grizzlies center Marc Gasol had the same amount of points as fouls — one. For the fourth straight game after the break, though Memphis trailed only 17-16 after the first quarter, it was slow out of the gate. The Grizzlies hit only 5-of-20 shots in the quarter but limited the Clippers to 8 of 22.
"Jeff Green, Marc Gasol and Mike Conley go 7 for 30. It’s just one of those things," Grizzlies coach Dave Joerger said.
Memphis is 2-2 since the break, but the two wins took comebacks at Portland and in Monday’s win at the Clippers.
Responses are mixed among players asked if there is concern about the offense. Joerger clearly is.
"We are 2-2, which is remarkable," he said.
The starters started the third quarter and went without a field goal for nearly four minutes. Meanwhile the Clippers (38-21) scored the first seven to break the tie and went on a 21-6 run. The third-quarter lead hit 15 and went as high as 19 in the fourth.
The starters made 20 of 55. Jeff Green was 0 for 6. Zach Randolph did score a game-high 20 points and had 10 rebounds.
Defensively it looks fine, but guard Courtney Lee expressed concern about a lack of stops in the first quarter. Offensively, that’s a whole other story, but both sides need somewhat rewritten.
2. The Grizzlies became DeAndre Jordan’s latest victim
It takes a second look, but Clippers center DeAndre Jordan finished the game with 21 rebounds. Jordan has taken over in the absence of Blake Griffin. He scored 15 points and had 22 rebounds, one rebound shy of tying a rebounds record for a Grizzlies opponent. He now has seven games of at least 15 boards.
Jordan made 4 of 6 from the field and played a game-high 41 minutes. He had six offensive rebounds and helped the Clippers outrebound Memphis 47-41.
Memphis went to fouling Jordan late in the game. He was 2 for 9 before he hit 5 of 8 in the late effort.
"You’d love him to make free throws, but I just know the history of the league," Clippers coach Doc Rivers said, "and how may championships have been won with poor free throw shooters, Shaq, Bill Russell, I can name them all. His defense is more important."
Rivers said analytics say the "hacking" theory actually works in ties and close games. No argument that the 6-foot-11 Jordan, who averages a double-double, can be a menace to a team accustomed to being the menace in the paint.
3. Aggressive Courtney Lee is good Courtney Lee
Lee was the bright spot at times among the starters. He scored 12 points on 3-of-8 shooting, but made 3 of 5 from beyond the arc. One of the misses was blocked.
Lee is the top outside threat on a team mostly void of an outside threat. Lee entered the night shooting 44 percent from behind the arc, third-best in the NBA, but he has attempted only 161 shots.
There is a call for the sometimes gun-shy shooter to shoot more.
"I felt it a little bit today and I tried to (be more aggressive) in the second half," Lee said. "But we’ve got a great system here. We’ve got two low post presence that we want to get going early. We play inside-outside. I try to let the game come to me and run the offense."
Lee led a comeback attempt that included back-to-back 3s to cut into a 15-point lead. He made all three of his free throws and had five rebounds and four assists.
"There are other ways I can be more aggressive, instead of just scoring," Lee said. "I can be more aggressive on the defensive end, helping those rebound and whatnot. All around, not just scoring, I think I do need to be more aggressive."
2 — The Clippers had two technical fouls, Matt Barnes and Spencer Hawes, within 30 seconds of each other in the first quarter.
16 — The Grizzlies had 16 turnovers. Los Angeles scored 16 points off of them.