The Memphis Grizzlies hope they have enough depth to cope with a myriad of injuries.
The Grizzlies will need their patchwork lineup to come through on their four-game road trip, starting with a matchup against the Los Angeles Clippers.
Memphis is without three starters—leading scorer Pau Gasol, Bonzi Wells and Stromile Swift. Gasol, who has missed 16 games with a foot injury, was cleared to resume practicing on Friday and will be evaluated on a week-to-week basis.
Wells was placed on the injured list before Friday’s 86-75 win over Toronto with a herniated disc and Swift has missed five straight games with a sprained left ankle.
Memphis coach Mike Fratello has moved forwards Shane Battier and Brian Cardinal and shooting guard Mike Miller into the starting lineup. The trio will be needed to produce on a trip that includes visits to Sacramento, Utah and Portland.
“This is going to be a big road trip for us,” Miller said. “Every time you go out West, it is difficult. We need to play as well as we can with the injuries that we have and get a few wins.”
Starting center Lorenzen Wright, averaging 16 points and 10 rebounds in the last three games, has been impressed by the resiliency of his team.
“With our players out, we have different guys stepping up for us each night,” Wright said. “We just need to find ways to win.”
Memphis used a huge defensive effort for its third straight win on Friday, limiting the Raptors to eight points in the fourth quarter to rally for the victory.
Fratello notched his 600th career win, becoming the 19th NBA coach to reach that plateau. He is 28-14 since taking over on Dec. 2.
Los Angeles had its seven-game home winning streak snapped with a 105-89 loss to Denver on Saturday. The Clippers were bidding for their first eight-game run at home since 1993.
Elton Brand, who had 17 points and 10 rebounds on Saturday, has nine double-doubles in his last 11 games for Los Angeles. Brand has struggled in three games against Memphis this season, averaging just 14.7 points—his second-lowest average against any Western Conference foe.
Los Angeles is 3-2 in a 10-game stretch during which it plays eight times at Staples Center.
The Clippers have lost seven of their last eight meetings with the Grizzlies.