Amid a funk that has already resulted in a disappointing performance in Minnesota, the Los Angeles Clippers had one more obstacle before they could head back home: the possibility of the dreaded schedule loss.
— Cheri Mah (@Cheri_Mah) March 9, 2017
Instead, the Clippers flipped the script, giving their best defensive performance of the second half. Combined with great performances from the bench and the backcourt, LA was up 20 on the Grizzlies after three quarters. They are now 19-0 when they hold a 20 point lead this season.
X-Factor: Rebounding has been a persistent issue with these Clippers, and largely due to how little help on the glass they receive from the guards. Tonight, they were often able to keep the Grizzlies to one offensive possession each time down the court, with the guards responsible for 18 of the 47 total rebounds collected by the Clips. That’s considerable given that three of the five guards on the roster have averaged 2 or less boards on the season.
Major Moment: At the 7:09 mark of the first quarter, Austin Rivers was subbed in for Chris Paul. There were no issues with foul trouble early on, but a change to account for the 32 minutes Paul played the night before. This marked the beginning of a staggered rotation pattern for the game, a pattern which the coaching staff hinted at using prior to the season. The second unit responded well to the adjustments, scoring 13 of the team’s final 14 points of that first quarter to plant the seed of a Clippers lead that they wouldn’t relinquish for the remainder of the contest.
Key Lineups: As mentioned earlier, the Clippers relied heavily on staggering their starters this evening, keeping either Blake Griffin, Chris Paul, or DeAndre Jordan on the floor for all but garbage time. Pairing the Blake and DeAndre with the backup guards proved especially effective, as this group finished with a 51.4 net rating while playing the third most minutes together of any of tonight’s 5-man rotations.
The Definition: Seeing a lot of the the problem areas addressed with such immediate result is promising, at least for the hopes of how the Clippers can finish the regular season. It also helps that the team was able to move an additional game ahead of Grizzlies in the standings as they finished their season series by taking three of the four games against Memphis.
After the buzzer, both Blake Griffin and Doc Rivers talked openly of a players meeting prior to the game.
“It was a long meeting, but it was a truthful meeting,” said Doc Rivers. “We just talked. Wasn’t any screaming, it was just a good team discussion about what we want to be and what we need to do. I thought a lot of guys added in, you know. Often times, you have those meetings and it’s one voice and it wasn’t today. I think every single player said something and we only — we were allowing the truth, you know, so I thought that was good too.”
— LA Clippers (@LAClippers) March 10, 2017