The top defensive unit in the NBA takes on arguably the best scoring team in the league, as the Memphis Grizzlies look to slow down the Los Angeles Clippers Monday at Staples Center.
The Grizzlies are first in opponents’ scoring at 95.7 points per game and have held 11 of their last 13 challengers under 100 points.
Memphis resumed a three-game western trip with Sunday’s 98-92 victory in Portland and was led by All-Star Marc Gasol, who had 21 points, six rebounds and three blocks. Courtney Lee scored 19 points and both Zach Randolph and Mike Conley added 15.
Randolph pulled down nine rebounds for Memphis, which overcame a 13-point deficit in the fourth quarter and is off to the best start in franchise history at 40-14. The Grizzlies never had 40 wins before March.
“They got the big lead, but we kept playing, came out scoring well in the fourth and getting stops,” he said. “We kept scratching and clawing and getting closer and closer. Then we ended the game with a lot of stops.”
The Grizzlies rebounded from a loss at Oklahoma City before the All-Star break and won for the 15th time in the past 18 contests. They did not have to worry about Blazers All-Star forward LaMarcus Aldridge because of a right thumb sprain.
“We scored on 10 of our first 13 possessions in the fourth quarter, and then we got 15 stops on their last 18 possessions,” Memphis coach Dave Joerger said. “That’s how we won the game.”
Joerger’s squad leads the Southwest by 3 1/2 games over Houston and is second in the Western Conference, 3 1/2 games behind Golden State (43-10).
Memphis is 23-9 against conference foes and 17-9 on the road. It will close the road trip Wednesday at Sacramento.
The Clippers have won four in a row after losing four straight, and will try to close out a perfect four-game homestand Monday.
Los Angeles delivered a 126-99 beating on the Kings Saturday night, as Austin Rivers blew up for a career-high 28 points off the bench and J.J. Redick ended with 24 points. Jamal Crawford scored 23 points for the Clippers, who have reached 100-plus points in six straight games and are second with 107.3 ppg.
LA recorded a 42-18 scoring advantage in the second quarter and posted 31 of the 49 points in the third. The Kings made only 34.1 percent and their 17 turnovers led to 28 points.
“I thought our defense was really good,” said Rivers, who sank 5-of-9 from beyond the arc. “All of us play hard and everything comes together.”
The Clippers made 14-of-35 3-pointers and are unbeaten in six straight at home. They have a 23-7 record at Staples Center and a 24-8 mark against teams from the West, including a 15-2 advantage as the host.
Los Angeles has recorded 12 consecutive victories versus conference opponents at home and is 21-1 when reaching 100 or more points as the host.
After wrapping up this current homestand, the Clippers will play the next four games on the road against Houston, Memphis, Chicago and Minnesota.
NBA releases 02/23/2015
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