Clippers-Grizzlies Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated January 13, 2013
The Pacific Division-leading Los Angeles Clippers probably don't want to think much about their last game. They have much better memories of their last trip to Memphis. Los Angeles opens a road-heavy portion of its schedule on Monday night in its first game at FedExForum since a series-clinching victory last postseason. Trying to extend their franchise-record 13-game home winning streak, the Clippers (28-9) were outscored 29-18 in the fourth quarter of Saturday's 104-101 loss to Orlando, which had dropped 10 straight. Los Angeles took care of the ball with just nine turnovers, but it matched a season low with six free-throw attempts and allowed 11 3-pointers. "An embarrassing performance for us,'' coach Vinny Del Negro said. "We got what we deserved.'' The Clippers will now try to avoid a season high-tying third straight road loss - they dropped their last two outside Los Angeles by 14 and 21 points, respectively, as they begin a stretch of 15 of 19 as the visitors. Los Angeles' first stop on its three-game, four-day trip is FedExForum, where it last played May 13 in an 82-72 Game 7 win in the Western Conference quarterfinals. That victory gave the Clippers their third postseason series win in 41 years and second since relocating to Los Angeles. These teams last met on Oct. 31, when Los Angeles won 101-92 to extend the Grizzlies' NBA-record losing streak on opening night to 12. Memphis (24-11), though, won a season-best eight in a row following that setback and has established itself as one of the top teams in the conference. The Grizzlies moved with 1 1/2 games of the Southwest Division lead with Friday's 101-98 overtime home win over division-leading San Antonio, but they fell flat in Saturday's 104-83 loss at Dallas. Memphis shot 38.1 percent and failed to force 10 turnovers - it finished with nine - for the first time in 139 games. "We didn't have maybe one, maybe one-and-a-half starter that could bring it,'' coach Lionel Hollins said after Rudy Gay (12) was the only starter in double figures. "Our focus and concentration wasn't there.'' That just can't happen since the Grizzlies rely so much on their starters - 72.5 percent of their scoring and 72.8 percent of their rebounding coming from that group. The Clippers enjoy much better balance, as their bench contributes 40.2 percent of their scoring and 43.5 percent of their boards. Jamal Crawford - the NBA's second-leading scorer off the bench with 16.2 points per game - scored a team- and season-high 29 in his Clippers debut in the season-opening win over Memphis. Matt Barnes, who missed that contest due to a one-game league suspension, is averaging 13.3 points and 6.7 boards off the Clippers' bench in the last three games. Blake Griffin, the team leader with 17.4 points per game and 8.6 rebounds, could use all the help he can get on the glass against former Clipper Zach Randolph. The Memphis forward - the NBA double-double leader with 24 - posted season lows with six points and four boards on Saturday, but he's averaging 15.3 points and 13.5 boards in the last four games between these clubs, including the 2012 playoffs. Memphis became the first team to lose Games 1 and 7 at home in a first-round series, but it has won six of eight at home in the regular season versus Los Angeles following a 94-85 victory on April 9.
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