LOS ANGELES — The Los Angeles Clippers’ backs were once again up against the wall with another disappointing loss to the Memphis Grizzlies on the horizon Sunday night. That’s when Paul George and Kawhi Leonard stepped up and helped deliver the team their first win with Russell Westbrook, snapping a five-game losing streak.
The Clippers defeated the Grizzlies, 135-129, in another wild game at Crypto.com Arena. Paul George scored 10 points in the fourth quarter en route to a game-high 42 points, 10 rebounds, and three assists. Kawhi Leonard scored 15 of his 34 points in the final frame as well to lead LA to the win.
“S**t, needed a win and we got it,” Russell Westbrook said with a wide grin after the win. “Get it off our back and move forward.”
The Clippers led by six points at halftime, 67-61. They took their biggest lead of the game at 72-61 a minute into the third quarter, forcing Grizzlies coach Taylor Jenkins to call a quick timeout. From there, it was an avalanche.
Memphis scored 51 points in the third quarter, shooting 19-of-26 from the field and 10-of-13 from 3-point range. Tyus Jones dominated the quarter for the Grizzlies, scoring 20 of his 25 points on a perfect 7-of-7 shooting from the field, including 5-of-5 from beyond the arc.
“I just, during the timeouts, just keep encouraging,” Westbrook said of his message to the team after Memphis’ big run. “I think a part of leadership is not just leading when things are going great, but also when things are a little rocky and the teams make a run, just keep staying with it, making sure we have positive mesh in the timeouts. And that’s something I think I bring to the team and I make sure I continue doing that throughout the game regardless of what’s going on.”
Russell Westbrook on what the Clippers are capable of:
“I already know. My job is to keep instilling confidence in Paul and Kawhi to do this every single night. The rest of us do our part, we’re gonna be a hard team to stop.”pic.twitter.com/JLQ8efGiN3
— Tomer Azarly (@TomerAzarly) March 6, 2023
The Clippers entered the fourth quarter down 112-97 and with all the air sucked out of the building following the 51-point barrage. They didn’t quit, however, as they were able to string together stops and follow them up with scores. A stop and a score. Another stop and another score.
A four-possession game quickly turned into a one-possession game, with Kawhi Leonard and Paul George leading the charge. The Clippers outscored the Grizzlies in the fourth quarter, 38-17, 25 of which came from Kawhi Leonard and Paul George.
“That just shows you want what we are capable of if we put our minds to it,” Westbrook explained when asked about how the team won despite giving up a 51-point quarter. “We know that regardless of what’s going on, we have a chance to win with the group of guys in this locker room. We just have to understand that. We did a good job of closing out the game tonight on the defensive side when we were down 16, 17 points.”
Of the 15 remaining games on the Clippers’ schedule, 10 are at home and five are on the road. The Clippers only leave California once between March 5 and March 27, and that’s to go to Portland to face the Trail Blazers on March 19.
Russell Westbrook is hoping this first win, behind Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, will jumpstart the rest of their season.
“I think that we just knew we needed to win and win the right way. You see that we start the fourth with just our pace, our intensity and the way we that get stops something bad.”
The Clippers will take two days off before taking on the Toronto Raptors Wednesday night.