Clippers-Grizzlies Preview

The Associated Press

The Los Angeles Clippers failed in their first attempt this season to avenge their first-round playoff loss.

Their second try might not be successful if they can't shore up their defense.

Los Angeles looks to avoid losing a third straight game Thursday night when it visits the Memphis Grizzlies.

After winning the series' first two games, the Clippers were eliminated from in the Western Conference quarterfinals with four straight losses to Memphis. They suffered a 106-102 home defeat in the season's first meeting on Nov. 18.

A similar result could be imminent based on what Los Angeles (12-7) showed in a 107-97 loss at Atlanta on Wednesday to open its seven-game trip.

The Clippers let the Hawks go 12 of 23 from 3-point range, with six coming from Kyle Korver. They had held teams to 25.2 percent 3-point shooting over the last seven games.

Nonetheless, they've been one of the league's worst defensive teams overall, yielding 102.1 points per game.

"Part of it's effort," said point guard Chris Paul, whose team had lost two of its previous 11 contests before dropping its last two. "Part of it's pride. We've got to step it up. It's a long road trip, man. This is not a good start. You're not going to win too many games when you let the other team shoot 51 percent from the field."

Los Angeles also struggled offensively in the teams' first meeting, shooting 39.5 percent, its second-lowest mark of the season.

Memphis might be without Zach Randolph in addition to Marc Gasol. The duo combined for 49 points and 24 rebounds earlier against the Clippers.

Gasol is expected to be out at least another month with a sprained knee, while Randolph is day-to-day after missing two games due to ingrown toenail surgery performed Saturday.

However, the Grizzlies (9-8) got strong performances from lesser-known commodities in their absence during a 110-91 home victory over Phoenix on Tuesday. Jon Leuer scored a career-high 23 points and hauled in nine rebounds, while Ed Davis finished with 21 and 12 to help end the club's first four-game home skid in nearly four years.

Kosta Koufos also recorded his fourth double-digit rebound game in as many starts since Gasol's injury.

"We all have to pick it up from the first guy to the last guy on the bench," Davis said. ''We can't replace Marc, and we can't replace (Randolph), but we all can replace some of the things they do."

Memphis looks like a team that could threaten Los Angeles' ailing defense after shooting 54.8 percent from the field with 26 assists Tuesday.

"The key is to try and spread it around because I can't do it by myself," said point guard Mike Conley, who had 18 points and 14 assists for his third double-double in four games. "Tony (Allen) can't do it by himself. We have to have everybody collectively chip in."

Jamal Crawford has just 19 points on 6-of-28 shooting over his last three meetings with the Grizzlies.

The Clippers have won three of their last four regular-season games at Memphis.