Grizzlies 98, Clippers 92
LOS ANGELES (AP)—The Memphis Grizzlies reached another milestone in their surprising season.
The Grizzlies improved to a franchise-record 14 games over .500 (38-24) with their 13th win in 16 games. Memphis is four victories short of clinching a winning record for the first time in the franchise’s nine-year history.
“We have guys who respect the game and understand what Hubie’s trying to teach us,” Shane Battier said of the Grizzlies’ 70-year-old coach Hubie Brown.
“We have guys who want to become better basketball players. And we all know that by listening to Hubie, we will. We respect his game plans and are very willing to carry them out.”
The Grizzlies, who never had a winning month before going 10-4 in January and 10-3 in February, are off to a 3-0 start in March.
“From the very first day until today, I coach the same way as I’ve coached for 30 years,” Brown said. “You don’t play hard, you lose your minutes and you don’t get back in. You force shots rather than pass the basketball, we take you out and you don’t get back in. With us, if you play selfish, we bury you. That’s how it’s done here.”
Things could get tougher for the Grizzlies, who placed center Lorenzen Wright on the injured list before the game because of a sprained right knee. However, Brown is confident his team can maintain its improved play.
“This is just a beautiful story about these young kids,” Brown said. “Mike Miller hasn’t played in almost a month, and he was having a great January and February. Now we lose Lorenzen Wright for four weeks. I mean, these are two key starters for us. But we just move the other people up and they play with their hearts. It sounds simple, don’t it?”
The win was the Grizzlies’ fourth straight against the Clippers, and improved Memphis’ record to 18-17 against them. The Grizzlies do not have a winning record against any other team since joining the league in the 1995-96 season.
“I think we’re far better than them, but they’re just playing good basketball,” Los Angeles’ Corey Maggette said. “We have stretches where we play good and play bad, but they’re playing consistent, doing the right things and not making mistakes. I think we’ve got a lot of things going here. We just need to get in synch. It’ll happen, sooner or later.”
Maggette and Elton Brand each scored 18 points for the Clippers, who have lost four straight and 11 of 14. Maggette also had six rebounds and a career-high seven assists.
Eddie House, who played a season-high 42 minutes against the Grizzlies on Feb. 11 at Memphis and came within three assists of a triple-double, was the first player off the Clippers’ bench this time and finished with 10 points in 20 minutes.
Battier grabbed an offensive rebound after a missed 3-point shot by Earl Watson and beat the third-quarter buzzer with a 16-footer that put Memphis ahead 73-71. Battier was 0-for-6 before that shot.
The Grizzlies opened the fourth with a 14-3 run. Stromile Swift scored seven of his nine points in a 2:03 span to help Memphis open up an 87-76 lead with8:16 to play, and the Clippers got no closer than the final margin.
Brown is eighth on the NBA’s all-time wins list, 17 behind Clippers coach Mike Dunleavy, who is seventh. … The only teams Memphis hasn’t beaten this season are Indiana and New York. The Grizzlies have one more shot at the Pacers on March 20 at home, and face the Knicks four nights later at Madison Square Garden. … F Ryan Humphrey was activated by the Grizzlies. He split his rookie season with Orlando and Memphis, and hadn’t played for the Grizzliessince being placed on the injured list Oct. 27 with a concussion.