After losing 6 in a row to close the 2016 calendar year, the LA Clippers start 2017 with back-to-back wins. For the 2nd game in a row, the starting lineup of PG Raymond Felton, SG J.J. Redick, SF Austin Rivers, PF Luc Mbah a Moute, and C DeAndre Jordan took home a home win. But beating the lowly Phoenix Suns wire-to-wire is one thing. Completing a comeback from a double-digit deficit at halftime for the first time all season against the Memphis Grizzlies is so much more significant.
Top Performer: So many to choose from, but I’m going with Jamal Crawford off the bench. J-Crossover needed to get home to STAPLES Center, apparently. After scoring a total of 12 points on 29 shots on the road trip to close 2016, Crawford now has two good games in a row, scoring 18 points on Monday night and 22 points on 50 percent from the field Wednesday night against the Grizzlies. The efficiency from the field was matched with volume and proficiency from the stripe (7-of-7), as this was the first game all season where Crawford made at least half of his field goals while attempting at least 5 free throws. Crawford scored 16 of his 22 in the 2nd half, with a team-leading 9 coming in the 4th quarter.
— LA Clippers (@LAClippers) January 5, 2017
X-Factor: Like Monday night against the Suns, the FT line was critical for the Clippers Wednesday night against the Grizzlies. LA made 32-of-45 FTs, the 2nd-most makes and attempts from the line all season, and they wound up outscoring the Grizzlies by 13 points from the line. Four Clippers attempted at least 7 FTs, and they all scored at least 18 points: Crawford (7-of-7, 22 points off the bench), Redick (7-of-8, 19 points), Jordan (4-of-11, 18 points to go with a game-high 20 rebounds), and Rivers (6-of-7, game-high and season-high 28 points). The Clippers are now 10-0 when they make at least 25 FTs this season.
Major Moment: When Grizzlies PG Mike Conley made his only three of the game with 1:39 left in the 1st half, it gave Memphis a 60-47 lead. Fast forward to 44.5 seconds left in the game, and the Grizzlies are calling a :20 timeout following 2 Crawford FTs that gave LA their biggest lead of the game at 109-99. What happened in between? Rivers and Jordan got busy. Over a roughly 25-minute span, Rivers and Jordan combined to score 25 points on 10-of-17 shooting from the field while the Clippers outscored the weary Grizzlies by 23 points. Rivers had 6 of his team-high 7 assists during that span, while Jordan grabbed 15 of his 20 boards in that time. While LA shot 56.4 percent from the field during the turnaround, the Grizzlies were held to only 31.7 percent from the field, with Conley going 0-of-6.
Key Lineup: The Grizzlies lost in STAPLES Center the night before to the Lakers, losing PF JaMychal Green to a maxilla fracture in the process. The injury, combined with a rest day for SF Chandler Parsons, forced Grizzlies head coach David Fizdale to start James Ennis and Jarell Martin at forward along with Conley, SG Tony Allen, and C Marc Gasol. That unit was awful in 11 minutes, getting outscored 27-18 while shooting 7-of-22 from the field (31.8 percent) and compiling a net rating of -32.4. Doc Rivers had an extremely small lineup with Crawford in for Mbah a Moute with the starters for 6 minutes, and that lineup killed, outscoring Memphis 18-10 and compiling a net rating of 31.0 while holding the Grizzlies to 2-of-11 from the field (18.2 percent). Overall, Crawford and Rivers were on the court for 23 minutes together, compiling a 14.3 net rating. My bad for suggesting fewer of those lineups…
The Clippers are catching the Grizzlies on the 2nd night of a back-to-back – what does LA have to do to make up for loss vs MEM in November?
— ClipperBlog (@clipperblog) January 4, 2017
The Definition: The Clippers had fallen to 7th in the West by New Year’s Day, but the winning streak has put them back in 4th in the West. It’s still not an ideal spot if they want to avoid the Warriors bracket come May, but that’s 4 months away. More important things are happening for the Clippers this week. There is hope that Chris Paul’s hamstring injury is getting better enough for him to possibly play Friday night. Doc Rivers addressed the need to cut down on the ridiculous technical fouls:
Doc's holding everyone accountable for it. His tech money is going to the Violence Intervention Program. Wants other players to find a group
— Rowan Kavner (@RowanKavner) January 5, 2017
Perhaps most important is the fact that the Clippers will do no worse than tie the season series against the Grizzlies. The Clippers lost their first 6 games this season after trailing by at least 10 points at halftime, including the November meeting that ended with Gasol going all Conor McGregor on STAPLES Center. This time, LA finished the comeback and had some payback.
— Chuck The Condor (@ChuckTheCondor) January 5, 2017