Clippers hand Grizzlies second straight loss, 117-106

Los Angeles closed out a successful December with one last win over Memphis.

LOS ANGELES — The Clippers beat the Memphis Grizzlies, 117-106, to cap off an 11-2 in December, the best mark in the Western Conference for this month. They will enter 2024 as one of the top four teams in the Western Conference.

Turning point: LA set the tone early on Friday as the Clippers collectively shot 55% from the field in the first to get away with a 33-25 lead. Memphis managed to stay in it in the second period when they went on an 11-0 run to erase an LA 15-point lead. 

The Clippers seemingly were a little too close for comfort heading into the third as they quickly went on a 8-0 run for a 69-56 lead. The scoring only carried on from there for LA before they found themselves entering the final period with a 20-point lead. 

Five turnovers from LA and a 22-9 Memphis run almost cost the Clippers the lead once again in the fourth. Fortunately for Los Angeles, the Clippers found a way to further their lead all the way to a win.

What it means: With Friday’s win the Clippers climb to 19-12 on the season (11-2 in December) and claim the fourth seed in the Western Conference standings. LA becomes 15-9 against Western Conference opponents and now carries a 13-4 record at the Arena. 

Hits: James Harden jumped out the gates early in the game as he scored in double figures in the first quarter. Harden also added 8 assists in the first two periods. By the end of Friday’s game, he finished with 16 points in 44 minutes while adding a whopping 13 assists with four rebounds and three blocks. Friday marked Harden’s sixth double-double of season. 

Misses: Despite Grizzlies star Ja Morant coming back from an illness, Friday was no easy feat for LA. Paul George had a rough start against Memphis, scoring 4 points on 1-of-9 shooting across the first half. By halftime, George, Terance Mann and Norman Powell missed a combined 11 attempted three-pointers.

Stat of the game: Ivica Zubac represented his home country well on Croatian Heritage Night in Los Angeles. Zubac scored over 20 rebounds for the second time in his career. He finished Friday’s bout with 15 points in 33 minutes.

Up next: The Clippers will kick off the New Year when they host the Miami Heat New Year’s day. Then, the team will hit the road to face the likes of the Phoenix Suns Jan. 3 and the New Orleans Pelicans on Jan. 5.