Clippers See Other Side of Life : Pro basketball: Their 103-98 victory over Grizzlies is fourth in a row.
It must have been embarrassing to play for the Clippers last season as they compiled the NBA’s worst record (17-65).
But the Clippers are embarrassing other teams this season.
Coach Bill Fitch has rejuvenated the Clippers, who extended their winning streak to four games with a 103-98 victory over the Vancouver Grizzlies on Thursday night before an announced crowd of 10,169 at The Pond of Anaheim.
Forward Loy Vaught had 19 points and a season-high 19 rebounds, two shy of his career high, as the Clippers (5-3) beat the Grizzlies (2-6) for the second time in six days.
“They play harder than they did last year,” said Grizzly guard Byron Scott, who had a team-high 18 points. “They’re not giving you anything free. They come out and they compete, and that’s what you have to do.”
Injured guard Pooh Richardson said last season was a learning experience for the Clippers, who came within one game of tying the NBA record for most losses at the start of a season, losing their first 16 games.
“We knew what we were getting into last year,” Richardson said. “We knew this year was going to be different. The [media] didn’t believe it, but we’ve got a good team; honestly, we really do.”
Although the Clippers are in the midst of their longest winning streak since March 1994 and are two games over .500 for the first times since March 1993, they have yet to field their best team.
Richardson, who averaged 20 points and 4.5 assists in two exhibition games after reporting to training camp in the best shape of his career, has not played because of a foot injury.
However, rookie guard Brent Barry, who had 17 points, including 15 in the second half as the Clippers overcame an 18-point first-half deficit, has done a good job of filling in.
Center Stanley Roberts is still getting into shape after sitting out virtually all of the last two seasons with Achilles’ tendon injuries.
With eight minutes remaining, Roberts limped off the court because of a sore right heel.
Roberts had a season-high 12 points and five rebounds in 17 minutes.
The Clippers, who looked more like an expansion team than the Grizzlies did in the first half, tied the score, 94-94, when Vaught made a follow shot with 3:12 remaining.
The Clippers outscored the Grizzlies, 9-2, for a 103-96 lead as Barry made two three-point baskets, and center Brian Williams, who had 17 points and seven rebounds, made two free throws after a flagrant foul by former Clipper center Benoit Benjamin.
The Clippers also did a good job of playing defense, holding the Grizzlies scoreless for 2:58 of the final three minutes of the game.
The Clippers, who shot 70.6% in the third quarter, outscored the Grizzlies, 33-20, in the third quarter and trailed by two points going into the final quarter.
“I don’t think the fourth-quarter run helped us out; I think the third quarter helped us out,” Barry said of the Clippers’ 18-4 streak at the start of the third quarter. “We were able to get all those points back and we were ready for the fourth quarter.
“The second half I just wanted to come out and make a good showing. I got the change and I did.”
Barry impressed Vancouver Coach Brian Winters.
“The kid’s a nice player,” Winters said. “He hit two big three-pointers in the clutch. He’s going to be good.”
Grizzly guard Greg Anthony drew a flagrant foul for swinging at Barry from behind with 6:25 to go in the third quarter. Barry, who had nine points and two assists in the quarter, made two free throws before sinking his three-point basket. Barry then set up teammate Malik Sealy for a dunk with a nice pass.
“That was my first NBA hard foul, so I kind of liked it,” Barry said.