LOS ANGELES (AP)—Victories have been few and far between for the Memphis Grizzlies, especially on the road. Facing the Los Angeles Clippers a night after losing to the Lakers must have felt like exchanging a medicine ball for a basketball.
Rudy Gay scored 20 of his season-high 35 points in the third quarter and the Grizzlies completed their two-day stint at Staples Center with a 118-95 victory on Wednesday night, snapping an eight-game losing streak.
“We played great basketball. We passed the ball around and got easy shots. Anybody that does that is going to win most of the time,” Gay said. “We’re fighting for every win we get. We’ve been working hard, and it’s good to finally see it pay off. We’ve been playing from behind so much, it feels good to be on top.”
The win was only the fourth on the road this season for the Grizzlies, three coming against Pacific Division teams. Rookie center Marc Gasol had 20 points, along with eight rebounds and a career-high 10 assists. Hakeem Warrick, the only player left from the Grizzlies’ 2005-06 playoff team, added 17 points.
Al Thornton scored 25 points for the Clippers, who lost their fourth straight and have lost 30 games by double-digit margins—the most in the league, one more than Memphis.
Grizzlies rookie O.J. Mayo had 18 points nearly a year after playing his final regular-season game for USC. He left the school following his freshman season and was drafted third overall by Memphis. He returned to Los Angeles for the first time as a pro Tuesday night, scoring 17 points.
“I just wanted to play confident, play well, and stay consistent,” said Mayo, who had to come up with 13 tickets for family and friends.
“We were facing a Clippers team that had just beaten the Celtics, and a Laker team that was on a two-game skid. So we knew there was going to be a lot of energy here. It was really fun. Going home with a win under our belts, it’s a good opportunity to gain some confidence down the stretch.”
Mayo leads all rookies with a team-best 19.1 scoring average. The franchise record for any rookie over a full season is 18.7 by Shareef Abdur-Rahim in 1996-97.
“As a rookie, it’s a long season—playing 40-plus minutes a game,” Mayo said. “And we’ve played 60 games, so the body has to adjust because this is the first time I’ve played this many games in a short period of time.”
The Grizzlies outscored the Clippers 23-2 during a 5:41 stretch of the second half. That turned a five-point deficit into a 90-74 lead. Gay helped fuel the rally with 10 points, including a 3-pointer with 1.4 seconds left in the third quarter.
The Grizzlies scored 33 points off 18 Clippers turnovers.
“It was very frustrating,” Clippers forward Al Thornton said. “We had leads, but there were too many careless turnovers and everybody on their team was making shots. Once they got the momentum going, that was pretty much it.”
The Clippers used their 27th different starting lineup due to the absence of leading scorer Zach Randolph, who is dealing with his father’s illness back in Indianapolis. Rookie Eric Gordon missed his fourth consecutive game because of a bruised left shoulder, and Ricky Davis was sidelined for the second straight game with a sore left knee.
Clippers leading rebounder Marcus Camby did not play the final three quarters because of a migraine, according to a team official.
“We did well in the first half, but in the second half we missed Marcus Camby,” coach Mike Dunleavy said. “We missed his shot-blocking and his control of the paint. Without him, we put too much pressure on our young guys and we had to double-team more. Because of that, the Grizzlies made shots.”
Thornton hit a 17-foot baseline jumper with 1.8 seconds left in the second quarter to give the Clippers a 53-52 halftime lead.
Los Angeles made six of eight foul shots before the Grizzlies made their first trip to the free throw line with 3 seconds left in the first quarter. After Warrick hit the second free throw, Mardy Collins raced upcourt and banked in a buzzer-beating 32-footer to trim Memphis’ lead to 30-26.
The Grizzlies are 28-26 against the Clippers. The only other team the Memphis/Vancouver franchise has a winning record against is the Bobcats (7-3). … The Grizzlies are 2-13 in the second game of back-to-backs. … Grizzlies interim head coach Lionel Hollins played for the Clippers in 1982-83 when the team was based in San Diego. … Gasol is leading all rookies with a .531 field-goal percentage. The franchise mark by a rookie over a full season is held by his brother Pau, who shot .518 in 2001-02. … Memphis point guard Mike Conley left the game in the first quarter because of a broken left front tooth after getting elbowed in the mouth by Baron Davis while the Clippers guard drove to the basket. To add insult to injury, Conley was called for a foul and Davis completed the three-point play.