April 23, 2024

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Kawhi Leonard, Los Angeles Clippers overcome Memphis Grizzlies, 101-95

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KAWHI DUNK. Kawhi Leonard of the Los Angeles Clippers dunks against a Memphis Grizzlies defender during their match on Friday night, (Saturday, February 24, in the Philippines). L.A. CLIPPERS PHOTO

In a tightly contested battle, Kawhi Leonard and Terance Mann delivered stellar performances, leading the Los Angeles Clippers to a hard-fought 101-95 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies on Friday night, (Saturday, February 24, in the Philippines). 

Leonard scored 24 points, showcasing his scoring prowess, while Mann had a season-high 23 points coupled with an impressive 12 rebounds.

The Clippers faced a resilient Grizzlies squad led by Jaren Jackson Jr., who poured in 29 points in a valiant effort. 

GG Jackson contributed 11 points, Ziaire Williams added 10, and Vince Williams facilitated the offense with eight assists for his sixth consecutive game with at least seven.

Throughout the game, neither team managed to establish a double-digit lead, resulting in 11 lead changes and eight ties by the end of the third quarter. T

he Clippers carried a slim 79-75 advantage into the final period, having outscored Memphis 26-16 in the third quarter. The fourth quarter remained a closely contested affair until the Clippers pulled away in the closing minutes.

The decisive moment came with 1:35 left when Leonard converted a Memphis turnover into a dunk, marking the 17th and final lead change. Mann followed up with a crucial rebound and dunk, pushing the Clippers ahead 96-93. A timely 3-pointer by James Harden, his only basket of the night, with 46.2 seconds left, sealed the victory for the Clippers.

Clippers coach Tyronn Lue praised Harden’s clutch shot, emphasizing the significance of star players stepping up in crucial moments. 

Despite the Clippers’ strong finish, the Grizzlies expressed frustration with their performance down the stretch. 

Memphis reserve Lamar Stevens, who contributed eight points and eight rebounds, believed they had let the game slip away. 

The game marked the Grizzlies’ first outing after the All-Star break, while the Clippers were looking to bounce back from a 129-107 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder the previous night. The victory helped the Clippers maintain their position in third place in the competitive Western Conference.

The Clippers’ ball security was a concern for Coach Lue, echoing the sentiments from their previous game against the Thunder. They committed 21 turnovers against Memphis, including five by Paul George and six by Kawhi Leonard. Lue attributed some of the issues to the Grizzlies’ physical play and defensive pressure, disrupting the Clippers’ offensive rhythm.

In an interesting subplot, Clippers forward P.J. Tucker made his return to the court after a prolonged absence since November 27. Tucker, who was fined $75,000 earlier this month for publicly demanding a trade, played 14 minutes, contributing three rebounds but remaining scoreless.

The win for the Clippers snapped Memphis’ two-game winning streak and highlighted the Grizzlies’ ability to challenge some of the league’s top teams despite their short-handed roster.

Looking ahead, the Clippers will face the Sacramento Kings at home on Sunday, while the Grizzlies will host the Brooklyn Nets on Monday in what promises to be another exciting matchup.

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