Wednesday, December 6, 2023
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NBA Preview: Memphis Grizzlies (1-8) at Los Angeles Clippers (3-5)

The Los Angeles Clippers are sure that the best days of the James Harden era are still ahead.

After falling to 0-3 with its star acquisition in the lineup, Los Angeles will look to turn things around on Sunday afternoon when it faces the visiting Memphis Grizzlies.

Harden is averaging 14.3 points, 5.3 rebounds and 4.7 assists with his new team, most recently supplying 14 points, five rebounds and three assists in an ugly 144-126 loss to the Dallas Mavericks on Friday night.

Although he has played alongside stars before, Harden is still trying to find his footing alongside Paul George, Kawhi Leonard and Russell Westbrook.

George isn’t panicking just yet.

Perhaps the Clippers will figure things out against Memphis, which has lost eight of its first nine games to begin the season.

The Grizzlies snapped a season-opening, six-game losing streak by beating the Portland Trail Blazers 112-100 on Nov. 5 but dropped back-to-back contests since.

Memphis most recently fell 127-121 at home against the Jazz on Friday night. Utah attempted 16 more free throws than the Grizzlies, and following the game, frustrations started to boil over for Memphis coach Taylor Jenkins.

One of the biggest things holding the Grizzlies back is the absence of star guard Ja Morant, who is suspended for the first 25 games of the season.

Marcus Smart, acquired from the Boston Celtics in the offseason, is currently handling starting point guard duties. He has averaged just 9.6 points, 4.8 assists and 2.4 rebounds while shooting 34.5 percent from the field over his past five games.

Memphis also is without big man Steven Adams, who was sidelined with a knee injury and underwent season-ending surgery on Wednesday.

Even though the Grizzlies are missing two important pieces, Memphis forward Jaren Jackson Jr. doesn’t see it as an excuse for the brutal start to the season.

The Clippers took the season series with Memphis in 2022-23, winning two of the three games between the teams.

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