Evans carries Grizzlies past Clippers
MEMPHIS, Tenn. — When Tyreke Evans hit a 3-pointer with 5:47 left in the fourth quarter, the Memphis Grizzlies had a 16-point lead and looked to be on their way to cruising to a victory that would stop a three-game losing streak.
But that advantage melted away in just over four minutes.
When Los Angeles Clippers guard Lou Williams (36 points) knocked down a contested 3 with a minute to go, the lead was down to three points. But on the Clippers’ last possession, which started with 21.3 seconds left, they failed to get a shot off.
Finally, Williams made a desperation pass that was stolen by Evans (30 points, 11 assists) and the Grizzlies held on for a 115-112 victory Saturday night at FedExForum.
“It was a great comeback at the end when you’re down that many points,” Los Angeles coach Doc Rivers said. “I didn’t like the last play at all. We were looking for three, but we also could’ve got a quick two. But we basically dribbled the clock out.”
Said Williams: “I was trying to get open. It’s as simple as that; there is no science to it.”
The Clippers (13-19) had 74 points from Williams and guard Austin Rivers, who finished with a career-high 38. Williams and Rivers were the first duo to score at least 35 points apiece against Memphis since Washington’s Gilbert Arenas (36 points) and Antawn Jamison (35) did it in February 2006 at FedExForum.
Rivers hit on 14 of 20 shots from the floor and 5 of 8 from behind the arc. Center DeAndre Jordan pulled down 18 rebounds with four points.
“He’s good and he’s got the ultimate green light,” Grizzlies interim coach J.B. Bickerstaff said of Rivers.
Memphis (10-23) snapped a three-game losing streak and won for only the third time in the last 22 games. The 115 points marked a season high. Evans went 6 of 11 from 3-point range and also added seven rebounds and three steals.
“Twenty-eight assists. That’s remarkable even though we missed a lot of shots,” said Memphis center Marc Gasol, who had 17 points, 15 rebounds and four assists and was a game-time decision because of a sore left hip. “We’re a work in progress, but it’s a lot less painful when you win.”
The Grizzlies’ Andrew Harrison contributed 15 points and five assists and James Ennis finished with 14 points. Forward Jarnell Martin had nine points and seven rebounds and was sweating out the final possession on the sideline.
“Anxious,” Martin said.
The Clippers shot 48.8 percent from the floor and went 13 of 34 from 3-point range for 38.2 percent. Memphis shot 44.4 percent from the field while going 13 of 31 from distance.
The Grizzlies handed out 28 assists to 14 for the Clippers and also had the rebounding edge 47-37. Memphis had a 15-6 advantage on the offensive glass and scored 20 second-chance points to only six for Los Angeles.
“A lot of guys contributed,” Gasol said. “We played with better energy.”
The Clippers defeated the Rockets in Houston on Friday, but Austin Rivers said playing on consecutive nights is no excuse for the outcome Saturday in Memphis.
“I’m too hungry to get tired,” Austin Rivers said. “I’m 25 years old. Back-to-back is no problem.”
Williams agreed: “It’s still the NBA. The world doesn’t stop because you beat the Rockets. Those guys (the Grizzlies) are struggling as well, playing with funky lineups. So we kind of ran into a team that has the identity we have right now. Play hard, try to scratch and claw out wins.”
NOTES: Los Angeles C DeAndre Jordan had 20 rebounds in Friday’s win at Houston — his seventh game of 20 or more rebounds this season. ... Memphis won the first meeting with the Clippers this season Nov. 4 in Los Angeles. PG Mike Conley scored 22 points in the 113-104 Grizzlies victory that left their record at 6-3. Memphis won just one other game in November three days later at Portland and went 2-11 for the month. ... Memphis G Ben McLemore’s VORP (Value Over Replacement Player) is the worst on the team and ranks 448th out of 469 eligible players in the NBA. ... Clippers F Wesley Johnson missed his fourth straight game with left foot soreness.