The Clippers have found the Memphis Grizzlies to be their nemesis this season.
And that worthy opponent was back at it again Tuesday night at Staples Center, giving the Clippers fits and causing them problems yet again.
But this time the Clippers were finally able to conquer their considerable foe, pulling out a 113-105 victory behind another outburst from the remarkable reserve Lou Williams and timely baskets from Blake Griffin.
Williams took the lead again for the Clippers, scoring 33 points and adding six assists. He made eight of 15 shots and all 15 of his free throws.
It was Williams’ eighth 30-point game as a reserve this season.
Griffin did his part with 21 points, eight assists and six rebounds.
And with C.J. Williams scoring a career-high 17 points, the Clippers won their fourth straight game. They’ve also won six of their last seven.
In the middle of all this, the Clippers have moved to within one game of the New Orleans Pelicans for the eighth playoff spot in the Western Conference.
“We want to make the playoffs,” Lou Williams said. “It’s really important [to win], right? But we’re in a good rhythm right now. We’re playing really well. We just want to keep going, keep going with the momentum.”
Every time the Clippers started losing points off their lead, which reached 11 points in the fourth quarter, Williams and Griffin stepped up to the challenge.
Williams made two free throws to increase L.A.’s lead to 103-96.
Then after the lead was cut to two points, Williams found Griffin for a three-pointer to make the score 106-101.
After the Clippers’ lead was cut to three points, Williams found Griffin for a jumper. That made the score 108-103 and essentially finished off the Grizzlies.
Williams finished the scoring with two free throws.
“Over the past couple of seasons, Blake has extended his range out to the three-point line and that’s made him more dangerous,” Williams said. “With my ability off the dribble, it’s one or the other. It makes it hard for a team to trap me and it makes it hard for them to try to help off of him when you have me involved. So, we’ve been just trying to exploit that the best we can.”
The Clippers lost their first two games against the Grizzlies and couldn’t seem to slow them down.
The Grizzlies rank near the bottom of the NBA in scoring, averaging only 98.7 points a game. But the Clippers had become their welcoming mat, giving up an average of 114 against them.
Tyreke Evans scored 18 points for the Grizzlies this time and Mario Chalmers had 15.
But the Clippers finally broke through by playing better defense.
They held Memphis to 21 points in the fourth quarter.
“They are a tough team,” said DeAndre Jordan, who had 12 points and nine rebounds. “They’ve always been a grind team that plays hard. It’s going to be an inside-out game. They really are a paint team and a rebounding team. So we had to match their physicality.”