Clippers put 6-game win streak on line in Memphis

Sports

The visiting Los Angeles Clippers aim for their seventh consecutive win on the second night of a back-to-back, facing the sputtering Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday night.

Los Angeles opened a three-game road swing on Tuesday with a 114-99 win at Dallas. The victory marked a rare instance through the first month of the season: It was just the fourth time both Kawhi Leonard and Paul George played.

The All-Star duo did not disappoint, with Leonard scoring 28 points and George posting 26 to go with six steals.

Los Angeles contained second-year Mavericks star Luka Doncic — as much as Doncic has been contained this season, at least — forcing him into seven turnovers, 4-of-14 shooting from the floor and 0-of-8 from 3-point range in a 22-point night.

Opening the trip by beating a quality opponent was a boost for the Clippers, who are off to a franchise record 11-1 start at home but were just 1-4 on the road before Tuesday.

Los Angeles faces another young backcourt sensation on Wednesday. Rookie Ja Morant is averaging 19.1 points and 6.3 assists for the Grizzlies.

He played one of the best games of his young career on Saturday against the Western Conference-leading Los Angeles Lakers, producing 26 points, six assists and five steals, but Memphis lost by one point.

“It just flat-out shows it, that no matter what, we can be in ballgames and win ballgames,” Morant told reporters following the loss. “We weren’t able to close out tonight, but tonight showed what type of team we are and who we want to be.”

Morant followed up that effort by amassing 19 points and 10 assists Monday in the Grizzlies’ 126-114 road loss to the Indiana Pacers. In the defeat, Morant crashed into a cameraman just off the court, though he avoided serious injury and returned to action.

Finding ways to win but coming up short has been the theme for the Grizzlies of late. They come into the Wednesday matchup losers of four straight.

The Grizzlies’ skid, which began on Nov. 17, immediately followed their only winning streak of the season, a three-game run.

The Clippers, in contrast, have been outstanding — even with George spending the first month recovering from offseason shoulder surgery and then Leonard nursing a knee injury.

Lou Williams has helped carry the load at 22.4 points per game, and young forward Montrezl Harrell is enjoying a breakthrough season.

Harrell, 25, comes into Memphis averaging 18.6 points, 7.5 rebounds and 1.3 blocked shots per game. He is shooting about 59.4 percent from the floor, and he pulls down a team-best 2.9 offensive rebounds per game.

“Once he’s going downhill, once he is playing really aggressive and attacking the rim, he is virtually unstoppable with a guy of his size and the footspeed that he has,” Williams told reporters following a blowout of the New Orleans Pelicans on Nov. 24.

For Memphis, slowing down a full-strength Clippers bunch is a tall order. The Grizzlies rank 28th in the NBA in points allowed at 118.3 per game.

–Field Level Media

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