MEMPHIS, Tenn. — This time, the Clippers played the kind of impressive defense against the Memphis Grizzlies on Thursday night that they failed to play Wednesday night against the Atlanta Hawks.
This time, the Clippers were a determined bunch in defeating the Memphis Grizzlies, 101-81, at the FedEx Forum.
"It was a good defensive game for us, especially responding after last night's game," said Chris Paul, who had 15 points, eight assists and two steals.
The Clippers held the Grizzlies to 37.7% shooting, a season low for L.A. opponents.
And one night after watching the Hawks make 52.2% of their three-pointers, the Clippers held Memphis to 23.1% (three for 13) from three-point range.
Paul said their coaches challenged every one of them during a film session earlier in the day to play better defense.
"We looked at a lot of clips of what we did wrong," Paul said. "But they showed us also what we've been doing right over the season and let us know what we're capable of."
The Clippers were at their best on defense in the third quarter, outscoring the Grizzlies 24-11 and holding them to three-for-17 shooting. The Clippers caused so much havoc in the quarter that Memphis turned the ball over four times and missed all six of its three-point attempts.
"Your offense will always let you down. That's a fact. That's just the way it is," said Clippers Coach Doc Rivers, who now has won 600 games in his coaching career, making him the third active coach (joining San Antonio's Gregg Popovich and Minnesota's Rick Adelman) with that many wins.
"Your defense can never let you down," continued Rivers, who has a 600-479 record over 15 seasons. "I thought tonight was a great lesson for us."
With 2:17 left in the game and the Clippers leading by 19 points, Rivers pulled defensive stalwart DeAndre Jordan, and yelled "Good job" while slapping the center three times on the butt before he took a seat on the bench.
Jordan had anchored the defense, blocking three shots, altering so many others, talking all game to his teammates about defense.
The 6-foot-11 Jordan also took on the challenge of defending Zach Randolph, and more than held his own. Randolph had 12 points on four-for-13 shooting.
"Zach, he is a load," said Jordan, who also had 10 points, 14 rebounds, two steals and two assists. "… so I just try to push him off his spots as much as possible and as far off the block as I could and just play him with length."
The Grizzlies didn't have two of their starters, center Marc Gasol (left knee sprain) and guard Tony Allen (bruised right hip) and reserve forward Ed Davis (sprained left ankle) went down in the second quarter and didn't return.
But this night was all about the Clippers' smothering defense.
"They packed the paint and delayed Mike Conley off the pick and roll," Randolph said. "They just played good defense in the second half."