Los Angeles (26-38) at Memphis (40-24)

Cloudy Currently: Memphis, TN
Temp: 40° F
  • Game info: 8:00 pm EST Fri Mar 12, 2004
  • TV: FSS
Preview | Box Score | Recap

It has been an incredible season for the Memphis Grizzlies.

Just two victories shy of clinching a winning record for the first time in the franchise’s nine-year history, Memphis looks to move closer to the feat as they host the Los Angeles Clippers.

A victory Friday will ensure at least a .500 finish for the Grizzlies, who are enjoying the franchise’s best season.

The Grizzlies have already surpassed their previous record for wins (28), accomplished last season in Hubie Brown’s first year at the helm. They have also won a franchise-record eight in a row from Jan. 11-25.

“It’s totally, totally different from having about 18 wins at this time the last two seasons,” Grizzlies forward Pau Gasol said. “It was really tough. Our mentality is different, and the atmosphere is different.”

Memphis, which never had a winning month before going 10-4 in January and 10-3 in February, is off to a 5-0 start in March.

The Grizzlies have won six in a row and 15 of their last 18 overall following a 94-88 home decision over the defending NBA champion San Antonio Spurs on Tuesday.

Gasol had a team-high 27 points and 11 rebounds as Memphis moved within a half game of Dallas for fifth in the Western Conference playoff standings.

The Grizzlies have been thriving even without starting center Lorenzen Wright and guard Mike Miller.

Wright, Memphis’ second-leading rebounder, has missed the last three games with a sprained right knee sustained at Portland on March 3, and is expected to be out two more weeks.

Miller, fourth on the team in scoring, has been sidelined sice Feb. 20 with back spasms.

Without both players in the lineup on Saturday, Memphis defeated the Clippers 98-92 at Staples Center. The Grizzlies, one victory away from their first sweep of the Clippers, have won four consecutive games in the series to improve to 18-17 against Los Angeles. Memphis does not have a winning record against any other team since joining the league in the 1995-96 season.

The Clippers continue to struggle, dropping eight of their last 10 games, including Wednesday’s 108-90 defeat at San Antonio.

Quentin Richardson, averaging 17.3 points and 6.2 rebounds, sat out his second straight game with a sprained back. Corey Maggette led the Clippers with 21 points, while Keyon Dooling and Elton Brand added 16 apiece.

Los Angeles, winless on this current three-game trip which ends at Memphis, is 3-16 on the road versus Western Conference opponents.

STANDINGS (through March 10): Clippers - 5th place, 21 1/2 GB, Pacific Division. Grizzlies - 4th place, 4 1/2 GB, Midwest Division.

PROBABLE STARTERS: Clippers - F Maggette, F Brand, C Chris Kaman, G Dooling, G Eddie House. Grizzlies - F James Posey, F Gasol, C Jake Tsakalidis, G Jason Williams, G Bonzi Wells.

TEAM LEADERS: Clippers - Brand, 20.5 ppg and 10.9 rpg; Jaric, 4.8 apg. Grizzlies - Gasol, 17.7 ppg and 7.8 rpg; Williams, 6.8 apg.

SEASON SERIES: Grizzlies, 3-0.

LAST MEETING: March 6; Grizzlies, 98-92. At L.A. Clippers, Posey was one of five Grizzlies in double figures with a team-high 15 points as the team improved to a franchise-record 14 games over .500 (38-24). Brand and Maggette each had 18 points for the Clippers, who outscored Memphis 50-38 in the paint.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Clippers - 8-24 on the road; Grizzlies - 24-8 at home.

INJURIES: Clippers - G Doug Overton (ankle); C Josh Moore (back). Grizzlies - G Dahntay Jones (triceps); G-F Miller (back); C Wright (knee).

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