Clippers rally to give coach Dunleavy 600th win
LOS ANGELES (AP)—Mike Dunleavy will always remember his 600th regular-season victory because of the way his team earned it for him.
“I’m very proud of the guys,” Dunleavy said. “Our guys stayed with it and never gave up. All of a sudden, we came together and Eric Gordon got into that attack mode. We did the things we needed to do.”
Al Thornton(notes) scored seven of his 18 points in the final 2:26 for the Clippers, who held the Grizzlies to just 2-for-18 shooting in the fourth quarter. Marcus Camby(notes) added 14 points and 14 rebounds for Los Angeles.
Dunleavy is the 21st coach in NBA history with 600 wins. He guided the Lakers to the NBA finals in 1991, and was named coach of the year in 1999 after his Portland Trail Blazers won a division title with a 35-15 record during the lockout-shortened 1998-99 season. His overall record is 600-698, including 202-308 with the Clippers.
“If you’re in this long enough, you just keep trying to win and they all add up,” said Dunleavy, who has been an NBA head coach for 17 seasons—seven with the Clippers—and has been in his current job longer than anyone except Utah’s Jerry Sloan and San Antonio’s Gregg Popovich. “It’s always great to get them all, but I would rather have us healthy now. I hope there are more wins in there for me.”
Marc Gasol(notes) led Memphis with 26 points and was 13-for-18 from the field after starting the day tied with Portland’s Greg Oden(notes) for the league’s best field goal percentage at .633. Rudy Gay(notes) had 15 points and 10 rebounds, and reserve Jamaal Tinsley(notes) had 12 points and seven assists.
Trailing by 18 in the opening minute of the fourth, the Clippers outscored the Grizzlies 33-5 the rest of the way. After Gordon’s three-point play sliced the deficit to 88-78 with 7:02 remaining, Los Angeles kept pouring it on after Gay missed a pair of free throws.
“Eric’s a phenomenal player,” Camby said. “I think he has the potential to be a special player like the LeBrons, the Kobes and the Carmelos. You’ll be mentioning Eric Gordon’s name for a long time.”
Gordon tied it at 88 with a fastbreak layup after Camby blocked a shot by Gasol, and Thornton converted another fastbreak layup after a missed jumper by Gay with 1:39 remaining to give the Clippers their first lead. Thornton followed up with a three-point play after Randolph threw the ball away, and Sebastian Telfair(notes) provided the dagger with a 3-pointer in the final 37 seconds after Gay missed a 17-footer.
“We couldn’t close it out, and they executed better,” Gasol said. “We thought we had it, but they played better in the fourth quarter. It was more our lack of playing than it was them. They played good defense, but we need to be mentally tougher if we want to win.”
Randolph was 0-for-5 in the first half, but the Grizzlies shot 64.9 percent collectively over the first two quarters to build a 58-43 lead. Sam Young(notes) made a pair of 20-foot jumpers during a 10-0 run that extended Memphis’ three-point lead to 38-25 with 8:08 left in the second quarter.
Clippers center Chris Kaman(notes) got in early foul trouble, picking up his third with 7:34 left in the half and his team down by 11. He got his fourth foul with 9:19 left in the third and Memphis leading 59-47. The Grizzlies widened the gap to 77-57 on a 3-pointer by Tinsley with 2:43 left in the quarter.
“We fell apart. It started with myself, being the leader of this team,” Tinsley said. “At the end of the game we were turning the ball over, missing opportunities and countless shots. This is a frustrating loss for us.”
It was the third meeting between the teams this season, following the Clippers’ 113-110 win Nov. 7 at Los Angeles and the Grizzlies’ 106-91 win on Nov. 8 at Memphis—the day the Grizzlies gave disgruntled point guard Allen Iverson(notes) a leave of absence that eventually became permanent. The team is 3-3 since Iverson played his third and final game for them.
Clippers longtime TV play-by-play man Ralph Lawler and color analyst Michael Smith met with Memphis Grizzlies reserve center Hamed Haddadi(notes), his manager and three representatives of the Alliance of Iranian Americans before the game to express their regrets for the remarks they made about him during the Nov. 18 broadcast from Memphis that led to a one-game suspension for both broadcasters.
NOTES: The seven points by the Grizzlies were the lowest ever in any quarter by a Clippers opponent. … Haddadi, in his second NBA season, has played a grand total of 22 minutes in six games this season and has scored four points. Last season, he appeared in 19 games, averaging 6.3 minutes and 2.5 points. He didn’t play Sunday. … The Clippers, who made a franchise-record 18 3-pointers against the Grizzlies last February in a 126-105 win at Memphis, were only 2-for- 11 from behind the arc. … Clippers reserve C DeAndre Jordan(notes) returned after missing three games because of a sprained right ankle.