LOS ANGELES • Jae Crowder was making shots early, putting him in a rhythm that carried throughout the National Basketball Association (NBA) game at the Staples Centre.
His Memphis teammates followed along and took advantage of Paul George's absence to rout the Los Angeles Clippers 140-114 on Saturday night, never scoring less than 25 points in each quarter.
"We controlled the tempo and got off to a big first quarter and scored 40," said Crowder, who scored a team-high 27 points, including a joint-career high of six three-pointers. "We've had big leads this year and lost them, so we stayed aggressive."
Jaren Jackson Jr added 24 points, while Ja Morant and Dillon Brooks had 22 apiece to help Memphis improve to 7-10 on the road with their highest scoring game of the season, and 14-22 overall.
Montrezl Harrell led the Clippers, who dropped to fourth in the West with a 25-12 record, with 28 points. Finals Most Valuable Player Kawhi Leonard and Lou Williams added 24 points each.
Harrell was far from impressed by his team's performance and suggested the Clippers have not yet lived up to their status as title contenders.
"We're not a great team," the centre said. "I think that's what we need to realise and wake up. We're a team that still has to figure out things to win night in and night out."
The hosts appeared out of sorts without George, who sat out with a tight hamstring.
The usually stoic Leonard complained about being on the receiving end of some tough defence, only for the referees to hit him with a technical after the half-time buzzer. After the game, his coach Doc Rivers stayed on court to discuss it and was unhappy about other calls in the game.
"I thought he had gotten fouled a couple times," Rivers said about the non-calls on Leonard.
"The team with the most energy gets all the calls. We were complaining and they were running through us and playing hard. We showed up and thought we were going to win."
Their lethargy showed. By the time Williams made the Clippers' first three-pointer late in the second quarter, the Grizzlies had already connected on 10 attempts from beyond the arc.
Elsewhere, the evergreen Vince Carter made NBA history in Atlanta, becoming the first player to compete in the league in four different decades in the Hawks' 116-111 victory over the Indiana Pacers.
The 42-year-old, who is into his 22th season, received a standing ovation when he entered the game 6min 30sec into the first quarter.
ASSOCIATED PRESS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE