Returning from the All-Star break didn’t help the Memphis Grizzlies end their road woes.
They hope to avoid losing 11 consecutive road games in a single season for the first time in over seven years on Wednesday night when they visit another last-place team, the Los Angeles Clippers.
The Grizzlies (14-39) saw their road losing streak reach 10 games on Tuesday with a 108-101 defeat at Seattle, another of the league’s worst teams.
Memphis hasn’t dropped 11 road games in a row since a 12-game slide bridging the 2001-02 and 2002-03 seasons. They last endured that many losses as a visitor in a single season during a 15-game skid from Nov. 27, 2000-Feb. 5, 2001, the last year the franchise was located in Vancouver.
Memphis has dropped eight of its last nine overall games, and its 4-21 road record is tied with Miami and only better than Minnesota’s league-worst 2-23 mark.
Second-year swingman Rudy Gay, the team leader with a career-high 20.0 points per game, appears to be taking the losing hard despite scoring 23 points in each of the last two games.
“I need to step up and do more for this team,” Gay said after Tuesday’s loss. “I took myself out of this game (mentally) and I can’t blame anybody but myself.”
Gay had a career-high 34 points on 13-for-25 shooting, while adding 12 rebounds in Memphis’ 125-120 overtime home win over the Clippers (17-33) on Jan. 26. He wasn’t nearly as effective in the previous meeting on Dec. 14, tallying 12 points and four boards in a 98-91 home loss.
Gay hopes to continue getting help from Hakim Warrick, who is averaging 23.0 points and 9.0 rebounds while starting the last three games. Warrick, averaging 8.6 points and 3.5 rebounds this season, has been thrust into an increased role since star forward-center Pau Gasol was traded to the Los Angeles Lakers for four players on Feb. 1.
The Clippers hope their first game since the break can help them rebound from a 91-89 loss to Washington last Wednesday.
The Clippers have struggled to find any consistency, alternating wins and losses over the last six games. Getting star forward Elton Brand (ruptured Achrilles’ tendon) and guard Shaun Livingston (torn knee ligaments), both of whom have yet to play this season, back and healthy would make them a much better team.
There is no timetable for their return, but coach Mike Dunleavy appears cautiously optimistic.
“It’s just going to depend on how long it takes them once they’re cleared to practice,” Dunleavy said. “We want them to be at full recovery.”
Until the duo is able to return, the Clippers will continue to rely on rookie Al Thornton, who had 24 points and nine rebounds against the Wizards, giving him 21.5 points and 8.0 boards over the last four games. He is averaging 10.5 points and 3.7 rebounds on the season.
Thornton is getting considerable help from Corey Maggette, who have averaged 26.8 points in the last five games. Maggette, averaging a team-high 21.6 points this season, matched a season high with 35 points at Memphis on Jan. 26 after putting up 23 against the Grizzlies on Dec. 14.