The game Saturday night was going to require the Clippers to dig deeper and find something in reserve after they expended so much energy and emotion in a stirring win the night before.
Williams scored 19 of his 36 points in the fourth and Austin Rivers produced another career high with 38 points, but they were unable to keep the momentum going following Friday night’s impressive win over the Rockets in Houston.
“It’s still the NBA. The world don’t stop because you beat the Rockets. It’s still the NBA,” said Williams, who scored 30-plus points in consecutive games for the second time in his career. “Those [Grizzlies] guys are struggling as well. They’re playing with some funky lineups.
“So we kind of ran into a team that kind of had the identity that we have right now. They play hard and try to claw and scratch out wins. Like I said, we had a pretty tough one last night and they’ve been sitting for three days and they was able to edge us out tonight.”
The Clippers trailed by 16 points with 5 minutes 57 seconds left, by 15 with four minutes left and by 10 with 1:52 left.
Undaunted each time, the Clippers marched ahead, pulling to within 115-112 on a Williams three-pointer with one minute left.
After a defensive stop, the Clippers had one last gasp at trying to tie the score when they got the ball with 21.3 seconds left.
But Williams kept getting trapped every time he looked for a three-point attempt.
He tried to break free on a DeAndre Jordan screen, but Williams would up getting trapped on the side of the court as the clock was winding down. He tried to pass the ball back out, but Tyreke Evans batted the ball away, ruining any chance the Clippers may have had.
“I was trying to get open,” Williams said. “Ain’t no science to it. The only thing I was thinking was that I didn’t want to put DJ in a bad position with the ball at the top of the key. In hindsight, I probably shouldn’t have even called him up there for the screen.”
The Clippers couldn’t control Evans, who had 30 points on 10-for-20 shooting, six for 11 on three-pointers.
The Clippers defense was porous, giving up too many easy baskets.
The Clippers rebounding effort was not good enough, as they gave up 15 offensive rebounds.
“Offensively we were fine. But emotionally on defense, we weren’t communicating,” said Rivers, who followed up his career-high 36-point night against Houston with his career-best night against the Grizzlies. “Like, we just weren’t into it.
“They got too many easy buckets and it cost us down the stretch. We all most had a hell of a comeback there. But I felt like if we would have played the defense like we’re normally capable of, we would have won that game. But they got us.”