Crawford on fire as Clippers best Grizzlies
Los Angeles, CA – Jamal Crawford poured in 29 points on 10- of-14 shooting in his Clippers debut, masking slow season openers by Chris Paul and Blake Griffin in Los Angeles' 101-92 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies in a chippy rematch of last season's first-round playoff matchup.
The Clippers outlasted the Grizzlies in seven games last postseason, and Wednesday's meeting was appropriately decided in the closing minutes.
Paul and Griffin each made just 4-of-10 from the field to net 12 and 11 points, respectively, in the win. Paul also dished out 12 assists, while his backup, Eric Bledsoe, added 13 points off the bench.
Rudy Gay led Memphis with 25 points, Marc Gasol scored 20 and Zach Randolph totaled 15 points and 16 rebounds in the loss.
"It was a hard fought game, we missed easy shots early on. Jamal Crawford came off the bench and we had no answer for him. He was unguardable tonight," Memphis head coach Lionel Hollins said.
Both teams combined for 43 turnovers -- 22 by the victors.
Randolph and Griffin were involved in a pair of altercations in the late stages of a close game. After each received technical fouls battling for a rebound, Randolph escaped another infraction with a blatant takedown of Griffin on the next possession.
If anything, the skirmish ignited Paul, who followed with consecutive buckets, then found Crawford for an open 3-pointer in the left corner for a 96-90 lead with 2 1/2 minutes remaining.
Jerryd Bayless, Memphis' answer to the loss of O.J. Mayo in free agency, missed an open 3-pointer at the other end, then goaltended a Crawford lay-in with 1:33 showing.
After Randolph went 1-for-2 at the foul line, Paul and DeAndre Jordan hooked up for an alley-oop, and the Clippers held on from there.
"We got some stops when we needed to and Chris made some big plays," Clippers head coach Vinny Del Negro said.
The Clippers led 26-24 at the end of the first quarter, and Crawford spearheaded a 16-6 run that gave the hosts a 12-point lead with under five minutes left in the half.
From the time Crawford capped the spurt with a 3-pointer, the Clippers failed to make a field goal and were outscored 19-3 leading to the intermission. Bayless' 3-pointer gave the Grizzlies a 53-49 edge at the break.
Midway through the third quarter, Willie Green -- another offseason addition for Los Angeles -- drained one from long range to finish a 9-0 run that resulted in a 68-60 lead for the hosts. But Gay answered with consecutive buckets and thanks to another cold stretch by LA, Memphis went into the fourth quarter holding a 77-73 advantage.
Again the Clippers started a quarter quickly, with Crawford and Bledsoe combining to score the first 10 points of the fourth to put LA up by six.
It was back-and-forth from there, but this time the Clippers finished a quarter strong.
The Grizzlies have lost all 12 of their season openers since relocating to Memphis ... Mike Conley shot just 2-of-10 from the floor and committed a team- high six turnovers for Memphis, which shot 2-of-14 from three-point range ... Lamar Odom, a former first-round draft pick of the Clippers brought back via free agency, played 16 1/2 minutes and totaled two points, six boards and four blocks ... Jordan filled the box score with 12 points, seven rebounds and nine turnovers.