After two blowouts and down two players, the Los Angeles Clippers still found a way to win.
Losses to New Jersey and Philadelphia soured the start of a three-game road trip. The Clippers, already without third-leading scorer Quentin Richardson, then lost Maggette, who was suspended two games for fighting with Nets forward Kenyon Martin on Tuesday.
But a 78-68 victory over the Toronto Raptors on Friday night salvaged the road trip and gave the Clippers confidence, knowing Maggette’s return on Sunday will boost the slumping offense.
“We wanted to salvage this road trip. We were 0-2 with tough losses,” said Elton Brand, who had 19 points and 14 rebounds Friday. “Guys had to step up and we did. I’m proud of this win.”
The Clippers, who lost 37.7 points per game with Maggette and Richardson out, averaged just 77.7 points over the last three contests. Richardson is day-to-day with a strained right hand.
“We just had to get this win. I didn’t want to go back 0-3,” said Chris Wilcox, who had 17 points and eight rebounds.
The Grizzlies haven’t won on the road since beating New Jersey 96-93 on Dec. 3. Hubie Brown’s team, the NBA’s third-youngest, lost 122-116 to the Seattle SuperSonics on Friday.
It was the first game since Jan. 3 for Memphis, which spent most of the past week in a Portland hotel after having two games postponed because of a snowstorm.
“Maybe an experienced team would handle that better, but we are a young team,” Brown said.
STANDINGS (through Jan. 9): Grizzlies - 7th place, 7 1/2 GB, Midwest Division. Clippers - 5th place, 9 1/2 GB, Pacific Division.
TEAM LEADERS: Grizzlies - Gasol, 17.5 ppg and 8.3 rpg; Williams, 6.7 apg. Clippers - Maggette, 19.9 ppg; Brand, 12.3 rpg; Jaric, 4.1 apg.
2002-03 SEASON SERIES: 2-2.
LAST MEETING: April 8; Grizzlies, 111-108. At Memphis, Gasol scored 25 points and made two free throws in the final 11 seconds as the Grizzlies ended a seven-game losing streak.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Grizzlies - 6-13 on the road; Clippers - 11-8 at home.