Paul George’s 41 points not enough for Clippers win

Los Angeles, CA – Los Angeles will have to continue waiting for that first mark on the win column. The Clippers home opener ended in a 120-114 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies on Saturday night.

“Our first unit has to do a better job at setting the tone, having a defensive mindset,” said Clippers head coach Tyronne Lue. “We are not there yet, but it’s coming.”

Although the home team had found a 13-point lead at the beginning of the second quarter, the Grizzlies started creeping in as halftime got closer. Memphis guard De’Anthony Melton made a 23-foot three-pointer with 22 seconds left before the break. It was a one-point game until Reggie Jackson’s buzzer beater made it a slightly bigger lead for the Clippers at 62-59.

The Grizzlies are a young team, but they are talented. They kept the momentum going and tied the game less than two minutes into the third quarter. Memphis eventually took a 16-point lead with four minutes left in that period. 

Lue said the Clippers offense got stagnant for a while, but overall he thinks the team is heading in the right direction. It’s just not quite there yet all the time. 

“I thought we did a good job,” Lue said. “But we have those little four-five minute lulls where we just don’t continue to play the same way we’ve been playing and that hurts us every single time.”

Los Angeles tried to turn it around, but the Grizzlies weren’t really budging and kept finding double-digit leads. Although they didn’t quite pull it off, the Clippers were close to a comeback in the last two minutes of the game. 

The Clippers called a full timeout with 1:17 left, as Memphis led 114-109. The play Lue prepared led to a three-point jumper by Paul George, with Marcus Morris assisting. The Staples Center crowd sounded excited for the possibility of catching up, until Memphis scored again with 50 seconds left. 

George hit a layup, which led to more excitement. But Jaren Jackson made a three-pointer with 17.5 left that forced the Clippers to call another timeout. Once again, George attempted a three-pointer. This one didn’t make it in. 

His team may have lost, but the 6’8 forward had a big night. George picked up a double-double of 41 points and 10 rebounds while going 15-of-25 from the field, as well as hitting five three-pointers. Jackson and Eric Bledsoe also contributed double figures with 17 and 12 points, respectively. 

The Los Angeles offense performed alright, but Memphis had all five scorers in double digits. Ja Morant led the winning team shooting 10-of-19 from the field, registering 28 points and eight assists. 

With Sunday’s result, the Clippers are now starting the season 0-2. They’ll get homecourt advantage again on Monday when they host the Portland Trail Blazers. The game is scheduled for 7:30pm PT.