Luke Kennard Leads Paul George, Kawhi Leonard-Less Clippers Past Grizzlies

Paul KasabianSenior ContributorApril 22, 2021

Los Angeles Clippers guard Luke Kennard (5) shoots over Memphis Grizzlies center Xavier Tillman (2) during the first half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, April 21, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

The shorthanded Los Angeles Clippers defeated the Memphis Grizzlies 117-105 at home in Staples Center on Wednesday thanks in part to 28 points from Luke Kennard and 25 more via Marcus Morris Sr.

The short-handed Clippers were significantly undermanned and played without Kawhi Leonard (foot), Paul George (rest), Serge Ibaka (back), Patrick Beverley (hand), Rajon Rondo (wrist) and Reggie Jackson (rest). Memphis did not have center Jonas Valanciunas (concussion).

L.A. trailed by 15 points after the first quarter but cut into the lead before halftime and outscored Memphis 64-43 in the second half.

The 42-19 Clippers have won 10 of their last 11 games. The 29-28 Grizzlies lost their second straight game.


Notable Performances

Grizzlies G Ja Morant: 22 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists

Grizzlies F Jaren Jackson Jr.: 15 points, 8 rebounds, 4 blocks

Grizzlies F Kyle Anderson: 12 points, 3 blocks

Clippers F Luke Kennard: 28 points, 7 rebounds

Clippers F Marcus Morris Sr.: 25 points, 4 rebounds

Clippers G Terance Mann: 19 points, 7 assists, 6 rebounds


Trio of Kennard, Morris and Mann Paces Clippers

The Clippers entered their matchup with Memphis facing significant obstacles without their two All-Stars—Leonard and George—along with the absences of other key veterans like Reggie Jackson and Rajon Rondo.

Memphis wasn't fully healthy itself sans Valanciunas, but the Grizzlies had the rest of the rotation intact as they looked to hopefully make up some ground in the playoff race and inch closer to a coveted top-six Western Conference seed.

The Clippers had other ideas, though, and dominated the second half en route to a win that showcased the team's tremendous depth.

Kennard, Morris and Terance Mann led that second-half charge.

Defense led to offense in the third quarter when Kennard got the swipe. The ball ended in Mann's hands, and he took care of the rest.

LA Clippers @LAClippers

Swipe to a slam! @LukeKennard5 ➡️ @terance_mann https://t.co/QlP3UzZGmW

Mann was arguably the best player on the floor Wednesday, doing a little of everything. Here he is driving the lane and finding center Ivica Zubac for the dunk:

LA Clippers @LAClippers

Spark plug.⚡️🔌 📺 @BallySportWest | @terance_mann https://t.co/cEcHi41A0c

Once again, defense led to offense. This time, Yogi Ferrell got the steal, but Mann put himself in position for an easy bucket after the turnover:

LA Clippers @LAClippers

YOGI TO T-MANN! @YogiFerrell11 🤝 @terance_mann https://t.co/3BRA270Yvu

Excellent teamwork and ball movement from a group that had barely played with each other before soon ensued, with Kennard finishing it off:

LA Clippers @LAClippers

On a string. 📺 @BallySportWest | #ClipperNation https://t.co/S1zV0z34ag

Kennard eventually sealed the game with this dagger three-pointer to put L.A. up 12 with just over three minutes remaining:

LA Clippers @LAClippers

🗣.LUUUUUUUUUUUUUUKE 📺 @BallySportWest | @LukeKennard5 https://t.co/RP86063eqY

L.A. ultimately finished the game on a 27-16 run, with Kennard and Morris hitting some big buckets down the stretch to seal this game. Now the Clippers are 10-1 in their past 11 and have their sights set on potentially moving into the top two in the West.


Brutal Loss for Grizzlies, Who Can't Sustain First-Quarter Momentum

There's no way to sugarcoat this loss for Memphis. Yes, the Grizzlies were on the road, and yes, the Clippers still have a deep and talented bench despite missing their stars. But this was obviously a game Memphis should have won as it looks to improve its potential postseason seeding.

In addition, Memphis led by 15 after the first quarter and looked ready to run L.A. out of its own gym.

The Kennard-Morris-Mann trio had different ideas on offense, while the Memphis struggled in the second half.

It was all aces for Memphis to start, though, as Ja Morant shined:

Memphis Grizzlies @memgrizz

Wet like water. A 10-2 run to start our night in LA . @JaMorant | #GrzNxtGen https://t.co/RaUk1aTcjx

Memphis Grizzlies @memgrizz

all dimes. no quarters 🍇 @JaMorant | @KyleAnderson5 https://t.co/HUwLBqWR5g

Jaren Jackson Jr. stuck a three off a dish from Morant:

Memphis Grizzlies @memgrizz

UNICORN'S TOUCH. @jarenjacksonjr | #GrzNxtGen https://t.co/PhYk5KLP4f https://t.co/t4lfSaxpO9

When Morant wasn't dishing assists, he was scoring, and he had 12 in six minutes.

Memphis Grizzlies @memgrizz

12 is in duffle early 💼 12 early points for @JaMorant https://t.co/QROBxinPc6

Memphis shot 70 percent from the field in the first quarter. That wasn't sustainable, but it was an excellent start.

Pretty much nothing went right from there. Morant cooled off a bit and finished with just 10 more points. No other Grizzlies player outside of Morant and Jackson scored more than 12. The defense stumbled, allowing the Clips to make 14-of-27 three-pointers.

The scoring drought and three-point defense largely negated an excellent opening 12 minutes, and now Memphis will have to regroup as it looks to stay above .500.


What's Next?

Memphis will play a pair of road games against the Portland Trail Blazers in Moda Center on Friday and Sunday. L.A. will start a three-game road trip by playing the Houston Rockets on Friday at 8 p.m. ET in Toyota Center.


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