Clippers welcome Grizzlies amid real home stretch
Back on track with a victory Saturday afternoon, the Los Angeles Clippers will turn around and do it again Sunday night when they play host to the Memphis Grizzlies.
The Clippers pulled away for a victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers in Los Angeles on Saturday while shooting a season-best 62.4 percent from the field, two days after their showdown at Milwaukee ended with a 128-118 defeat to the Bucks. That loss ended a six-game winning streak.
The Clippers are still fighting for positioning in the Western Conference with the playoffs approaching, but they won't be reckless about it. So they gave leading-scorer Lou Williams a day of rest against the Bucks, two days after they clinched a playoff berth.
On Saturday, second-leading scorer Danilo Gallinari got to watch with what was listed as a sore left ankle, although the injury is not believed to be serious.
In the first half of Saturday's game, standout reserve forward Montrezl Harrell tweaked his left ankle, but he remained in the game and could be a candidate to rest Sunday.
The victory over the Cavaliers moved the Clippers to within one-half game of the Utah Jazz for the fifth spot in the Western Conference. After Saturday's games, that fifth spot would create a first-round playoff matchup against the Portland Trail Blazers.
Saturday's win also began a run in which the Clippers play five of their last six games at home. All six will take place in California.
"We're playing at a really high level right now," Clippers guard Patrick Beverley said. "We're moving the ball and it's fun. We're defending, so we really don't care who we play" in the playoffs.
The Grizzlies, who have been eliminated from playoff consideration, are 1-0 to start a four-game road trip after winning Saturday night at Phoenix.
The Grizzlies are playing out the string with an eye on the future, amid uncertainty about how many players on the roster will be back next season.
"That's the challenge is that you try to be as locked in as possible with the group you have," said Grizzlies guard Mike Conley, who scored 33 points in Saturday's 120-115 victory the Suns.
"You try to keep everybody locked in on that one goal, but we do understand that there are so many guys that are here that are new and some guys that won't be here come next season," Conley said.
"For us, it's about trying to keep everybody engaged, try to keep everybody locked in. I think we're doing a good job of trying to build even though guys' futures are uncertain," he added.
Just fielding a healthy team has been a challenge for Memphis. Center Jonas Valanciunas had been dealing with an abdominal injury, but he paired 34 points with 20 rebounds Saturday to remove any doubt about his health.
Grizzlies players listed day-to-day include center Joakim Noah (knee), guard Avery Bradley (shin) and forward C.J. Miles (foot). Out indefinitely are forwards Jaren Jackson Jr. (quadriceps) and Kyle Anderson (shoulder).
--Field Level Media
Updated March 31, 2019