No shaking of hands or renewing old acquaintances. No smiles.
"None of that," Johnson said. "A lot of stares."
In the end, it was the Grizzlies who stared down the Clippers and,
to some extent, the three officials who worked the game. Memphis
hung on for a 102-96 victory on Friday night at FedExForum,
surviving a parade of Clippers to the free-throw line.
"A tremendous game with playoff intensity," Memphis coach Dave
The Clippers (37-20) shot 43 free throws to 15 for Memphis,
including 16 in the fourth quarter alone.
Memphis point guard Mike Conley was carrying five fouls late and
Joerger was subbing him out on defense to make sure he had him to
run the offense.
Clippers point guard Chris Paul finished with two fouls in almost 39
"There were some tough calls," Conley said, choosing his words
carefully. "We just had to play through it."
Power forward Zach Randolph had 21 points and 11 rebounds for the
Grizzlies. Center Marc Gasol produced 17 points and 10 rebounds and
Johnson had 15 points. Swingman Mike Miller added 13 points off the
bench, shooting guard Courtney Lee finished with 10 points and
Conley had nine points and six assists.
Memphis (31-23) shot 48.3 percent from the field (42-for-87).
Los Angeles forward Blake Griffin finished with 28 points for his
10th straight game with 25 or more points, which is a career high.
He also had 13 rebounds.
Clippers guard Jamal Crawford scored 23 points, Paul had 18 points
and 14 assists, and forward Matt Barnes contributed 15 points.
A driving layup from Conley with 9:23 left put the Grizzlies up
84-72 — the largest lead of the game. But the Clippers chipped
away. Down 96-91 with 1:47 to play, Los Angeles scored its next five
points from the foul line and closed to 98-96 with 1:05 left.
But the Clippers would not shoot another free throw and would not
score again. They finished 27-for-43 (62.8 percent) from the line
and Memphis was 13-for-15 (86.7 percent).
"It starts with me," Griffin said after making only 8 of 14 free
throws. "I have to do a better job."
[to top of second column]
Memphis trailed by eight in the second quarter and seemed to be
searching for a rhythm. That is when Johnson and guard Tony Allen,
playing his first game after missing more than a month with a wrist
injury, teamed up for some tenacious defense and high-energy
Johnson scored 13 points in the quarter and had two assists, a
rebound and a block. Allen had three rebounds, two points, two
assists and a steal.
"They're terrific together," Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. "I
thought Tony Allen, Mike Miller (seven second-quarter points) and
James Johnson turned the game around with their energy."
"He's J.J. Dynamite," Allen said of Johnson. "That dunk he had today
The Grizzlies had a promotion in Johnson's honor Friday, handing out
temporary tattoos that said "Grizzlies" to pay homage to Johnson — now a crowd favorite — and the neck tattoo he has bearing his son's
As for the dunk ...
"I pump-faked," Johnson said. "The lane was clear. Z-Bo (Zach
Randolph) had his man boxed out and I just used instincts" and
tossed the ball off the backboard and slammed it home.
The Grizzlies held the Clippers to 38.8 percent shooting from the
field (31-for-80), the fifth-lowest percentage that Los Angeles has
shot this season.
"Even when you don't score, you've still gotta get stops," Rivers
said. "That's what this game is about. Our misses on offense took
away our energy on defense. That can never happen."
Paul injured a thumb late in the game.
"It happened on the last rebound that Gasol had," Paul said. "Just
got caught reaching."
NOTES: The Clippers made two minor deals at the trade deadline
Thursday. They sent reserve C Byron Mullens and a conditional
second-round pick to the Philadelphia 76ers for a future
second-round draft choice and traded veteran F Antawn Jamison to
Atlanta for the draft rights to G Cenk Akyol, a 2005 second-round
pick by the Hawks. Asked his thoughts about the deals, Clippers
coach Doc Rivers said, "Salary cap stuff, you know, stuff coaches
don't like." ... SG Tony Allen returned Friday night against the
Clippers after having been out since Jan. 5 with a sprained left
wrist. He had the wrist wrapped at Thursday's practice. "I play
aggressive, physical," Allen said. "I'm trying to reach for
deflections, steals, pushing off guys as I'm cutting through a
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