The Los Angeles Clippers will look to bounce back in the team’s first home contest of the season Saturday against the visiting Memphis Grizzlies after opening the campaign with a road loss against the Golden State Warriors.
Stephen Curry put on the show in the first game that fans were allowed to attend at the Chase Center in San Francisco, pouring in 45 points in a 115-113 victory over Los Angeles.
Paul George, who finished with 29 points, 11 rebounds and six assists in a losing effort, said his team will work to put the loss behind them and get a home victory against a tough Memphis team.
“It was a good test for us in Game 1,” George told reporters. “We know what we have to do going forward against these fast-paced teams. It doesn’t get better than them (Golden State) in terms of how fast they play, and how much that ball is hopping around.”
The Clippers, of course, are playing without superstar Kawhi Leonard, who suffered a partially torn ACL in his right knee during the playoffs last season and had surgery in July.
Leonard has been seen at practice shooting but is still months away from returning to the floor. The Clippers have not announced an official timetable for his return.
While the Clippers are without their best player for an extended period, the Grizzlies’ budding superstar, Ja Morant, stepped up big in his team’s season opener.
The third-year pro finished with a game-high 37 points, six rebounds and six assists in a 132-121 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday.
Morant finished 17-of-29 from the field, posting the second-highest opening night scoring total in franchise history after he scored 44 points in the season opener last year.
“I’m really proud of his leadership throughout the game, just encouraging guys when there were some tough times,” Memphis head coach Taylor Jenkins said. “And then just for him to make his mark, especially in that fourth quarter, was big for us to get the win.”
The Grizzlies’ game against the Clippers is the start of a four-game Western trip for Memphis that includes games against the Los Angeles Lakers, the Portland Trail Blazers and the Golden State Warriors.
The Clippers will play three straight at home, meanwhile, including games against Memphis, Portland and Cleveland.
Los Angeles won two of the three meetings last season and holds a 52-45 edge in the all-time series.
One player the Clippers would like to see get going is Reggie Jackson. The 6-foot-3 guard provided a spark offensively at times last season, but he finished with just 11 points on 4-of-19 shooting in a loss to Golden State.
“The toughest thing about starting the season off is finding a rhythm,” George said. “Reggie, he’s a scorer. On more nights than not, he’s going to have big nights for us. So, that’s just the thing about the season. In game one, there’s going to be a lot of guys trying to find a rhythm, especially adding new people into the lineup and figuring out how to play with them.”