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Clippers' day goes from flat to embarrassing in 105-82 loss at Memphis

They don't appear focused at morning shoot-around and it carries into lopsided loss. Former Clipper Zach Randolph has 30 points and 12 rebounds for the Grizzlies.

March 15, 2011|By Lisa Dillman
  • Clippers power forward Blake Griffin powers his way to a shot against Grizzlies power forward Zach Randolph in the first half Monday night in Memphis.
Clippers power forward Blake Griffin powers his way to a shot against Grizzlies… (Mark Weber / Associated…)

Early-warning signs surfaced that this night, apparently, could be a problematic two hours spent in the workplace for the Clippers.

And the things went from slightly off to flat-out awful Monday night as the Memphis Grizzlies crushed the Clippers, 105-82, at FedEx Forum, giving their playoff hopes a much-needed boost. The Clippers had 19 turnovers, and guards Mo Williams and Eric Bledsoe combined for nine of them.

Reporting from Memphis, Tenn.

The Clippers never led, and, in fact, trailed by 31 points in the second half and finished a long trip 3-2. Williams managed to trace the root of their woes to the morning session.

"It started in shoot-around today," Williams said. "It wasn't like we were trying to mess up. But it was just a weird feeling about the day, just from the jump. Veteran teams that I was on in Cleveland, those great teams, we would be in shoot-around and not focused.

"But it's a difference in those three hours, a veteran club can kind of get it together and get focused. Sometimes it's tough for a young team to kind of turn it on. You've got to have that sense of focus when you wake up out of bed."

For the record, center Chris Kaman didn't quite go along with that line of thinking, saying the Clippers have had average shoot-arounds before and still managed to rally hours later. There was no disagreement that the Clippers were manhandled, however.

Said Coach Vinny Del Negro: "They were more physical, more aggressive. They beat us up tonight. … They were meaner, tougher and faster. I didn't like the way we responded. I thought we played selfish tonight."

A former Clipper was a force for the Grizzlies. Power forward Zach Randolph led Memphis with 30 points and 12 rebounds and held rookie power forward Blake Griffin to eight points and nine rebounds.

Griffin, who was four of 10 from the field, has not had a double-double performance in his last four games, the longest stretch of his career. He played 31-plus minutes and, at times, looked exhausted. Bledsoe led the Clippers with 19 points and Kaman scored 14.

Memphis had 30 fastbreak points to two for the Clippers. The Clippers got only three points combined from starting small forward Ryan Gomes and backup Al-Farouq Aminu, and Aminu's three-point basket came in the final minute. Gomes suffered a bruised right knee late in the third quarter and did not return.

"Every loss is disappointing, but to lose the way we did is very disappointing," Griffin said. "I just never got into a rhythm personally. I just missed some easy ones. And it was like we were just kind of out there."

That wasn't the case for an especially motivated Randolph, still slightly stung by the All-Star snub, and he has managed to bring his top-flight game against the Minnesota Timberwolves' Kevin Love, and now Griffin.

"It definitely has something to do with it," Randolph said. "But I take it personal every time I step on the court. I try to play the same way, night in and night out.

"I tried to contain him. I felt like I did a good job tonight. I've been taking pride in my defense this year and it's been working. I was on Love … Griffin tonight. He had a rough night, but he's a great young player. A tremendous talent."

The Grizzlies are doing one of those team-bonding things, growing playoff beards, in an effort to look, well, grizzly. Randolph joked that it is much tougher for him because of his "baby face."

Williams is tight with Randolph and thought that Randolph deserved to be at Staples Center last month.

"He's an All-Star, in my opinion," Williams said. "He was one of the guys who got snubbed this year. He's a double-double-type guy each and every single night. I think nothing about his game is cute, and he's playing Memphis, in a small market, and he doesn't get the love he deserves."

Williams managed to put it in better perspective, however.

"The way we played today, you probably could have had a nice double-double today," he said, looking at a reporter. "The way we played, probably so."

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