MEMPHIS, Tennessee – The Memphis Grizzlies geared up for their Saturday showdown against LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers by defeating the Los Angeles Clippers 96-86 in early-season NBA action.
The Grizzlies (14-9), who lead the NBA’s Southwest Division, took a 51-42 lead at halftime of Wednesday night’s contest at the FedExForum in Memphis thanks to 17 points from Conley, who finished with a game-high 22 points.
But the Pacific Division-leading Clippers (16-8) went on an 11-0 run at the start of the second half to take a 53-51 lead, going ahead on a fade-away jump shot by Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.
The Grizzlies, however, regrouped defensively down the stretch.
After allowing 27 points each in both the second and third quarters, Memphis only gave up 17 points in the fourth to turn a 69-69 tie into a comfortable 10-point victory.
The Clippers shot just 34 percent from the field and scored a season-low 86 points against the Grizzlies’ stingy defense, which was led as always by Spanish center Marc Gasol.
Gasol had an off-night offensively and scored just four points, but JaMychal Green scored 19 off the bench to make up for that lack of production.
Wednesday night’s game also marked the first in a Grizzlies uniform for former Chicago Bulls star Joakim Noah, who played 13 minutes off the bench and showed tenacity on defense that should make him a good fit for Memphis.
“I think it was fun. If you think about it, we all felt it. I think the building felt it. There’s an energy and an intensity that he plays with that people can build on and feed off of,” Grizzlies head coach J.B. Bickerstaff said of Noah’s debut.
The Grizzlies’ next home game will be Saturday night against the Lakers, who are much-improved after acquiring James in the off-season and currently have a record of 15-9.