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Feb 23, 2024 3:46 am

Grizzlies carry improved home form into game vs. Clippers

GG Jackson, grizzlies

The Memphis Grizzlies struggled mightily in front of their fans for much of the season before recording back-to-back home victories prior to the All-Star break.

The Grizzlies bid to pick up where they left off on Friday night when they host the Los Angeles Clippers.

That might be a tall task considering the Clippers had won 28 of their past 35 games before dropping a 129-107 decision to the host Oklahoma City Thunder on Thursday night.

Included in that red-hot stretch for Los Angeles were two victories over the Grizzlies, including a 128-119 decision in Memphis on Jan. 12. Paul George scored a then-season-high 37 points and Kawhi Leonard added 22 to pace the Clippers.

On Thursday, Leonard made 9 of 12 shots from the floor and finished with a team-high 20 points. Norman Powell added 19 off the bench and James Harden contributed 17 to go along with six rebounds.

“For the most part, I thought we did a good job,” Clippers coach Tyronn Lue said. “I thought we executed the game plan offensively. Defensively, we could’ve been a lot better.”

Memphis could have been better at home and on the road before the break.

The Grizzlies were 5-15 in Memphis and had lost nine games in a row overall before posting a 121-113 victory over the Houston Rockets on Feb. 14. They followed that up the next night with a 113-110 win over the Milwaukee Bucks.

GG Jackson collected 20 points and nine rebounds in the triumph over the Rockets, and he matched his career high with 27 points in the victory vs. the Bucks. Ziaire Williams also logged a career-best 27 points against Milwaukee.

Although the Grizzlies own the third-worst record in the Western Conference, they aren’t ready to give up on the season.

“We care deeply about every single game that we play, and that’s going to remain,” Memphis general manager Zach Kleiman said. “There’s more work to be done. We take every game we play seriously and learn from every game we play. I’m excited to see what transpires the rest of the way.”

Memphis coach Taylor Jenkins has been forced to shuffle the deck given his team’s myriad injuries, but there is a bit of good news on the horizon. The Grizzlies expect to see the return of Jake LaRavia to the lineup against the Clippers.

“He should be available (on Friday),” Jenkins said Thursday of LaRavia, who has been sidelined since Jan. 13 due to an ankle injury. “He was a full participant in practice, looked good. We’ll talk about the minutes and all that stuff, but he should be a full go (on Friday).”

As for Marcus Smart and Desmond Bane, well, the Grizzlies are going to have to be patient. The team announced Thursday night that Smart, sidelined since Jan. 9, will wear a splint on his injured right ring finger and be re-evaluated in three weeks. Bane is likely to be back in action in three to five weeks as he recovers from a left ankle injury he sustained vs. the Clippers on Jan. 12.

–Field Level Media

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