|Improving Grizzlies aim for sweep of Clippers|
The Memphis Grizzlies' lineup is starting to get healthier.
On Thursday, the Grizzlies showed what they are capable of they are when closer to full strength, routing the visiting Los Angeles Clippers 122-94.
The rematch between the Clippers and Grizzlies on Friday in Memphis will be the second of five consecutive road games for Los Angeles, which has lost three of its past five contests.
The Grizzlies led by as many as 30 on Thursday and recorded their most lopsided victory ever against the Clippers.
"They got stops," Los Angeles guard Paul George said. "They shrunk the floor on defense. It's a young team. You can't give a young team life to play in transition. They got out. They ran the floor. They just showed their athleticism."
Tyus Jones led Memphis with a career-high 20 points on 9-of-11 shooting in only 15 minutes off the bench. Jonas Valanciunas finished with 16 points and 15 rebounds for the Grizzlies, who had six players score in double figures.
Ja Morant, a recent All-Star snub averaging 19 points and 7.9 assists per game this season, had 16 points and seven assists.
"I feel like our energy was there," Morant said. "I feel like we were all locked in and out there competing. I feel like our talk was very high level. We knew our teammates had our back while guarding the ball. That led to some stops, and we were able to get out and run."
Memphis recently got Brandon Clarke (calf), Grayson Allen (COVID-19 protocols) and Justise Winslow (hip) back into the rotation. On Thursday, Dillon Brooks returned to the lineup after a three-game absence caused by right thigh soreness, and he finished with 19 points on 6-of-13 shooting, including 3-of-5 from 3-point range.
The Grizzlies, who lead the NBA in points in the paint, crushed the Clippers in that area, outscoring them 72-24 inside.
Memphis also took advantage of 14 Clippers turnovers and beat them thoroughly in the transition game with a 21-4 advantage on fastbreak points.
The Grizzlies shot 54.3 percent from the field and went 11 of 19 from 3-point range. The Clippers made one more trey but finished 12 of 34 from beyond the arc (35.3 percent).
"It was just urgency to defend the 3-point line," Memphis coach Taylor Jenkins said. "That's been something that has come in waves with our group over the course of the season, trying to deter catch-and-shoot threes. Teams are still going to shoot it at a high rate. They still got 34 off, but we can upset those a little bit more."
The Clippers' two All-Stars, Kawhi Leonard and George, combined to shoot 2-for-9 from 3-point range on Thursday. Leonard totaled 17 points, seven assists and five rebounds but shot 6-for-14 from the floor. George had 13 points and seven rebounds but hit just 3 of 12 field-goal attempts.
"If we do again (what we did) tonight, it won't be a good thing," Clippers coach Tyronn Lue said. "We just gotta be better all the way around ... but my biggest concern right now is we gotta be better defensively."
--Field Level Media