MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- The NBA's second-highest scoring team wasn't exactly living up to its reputation when it posted an 18-point first quarter and a 22-point second quarter Thursday night at the FedExForum.
"I looked up at one point and we were shooting like 28 percent," Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin said. "Our defense was keeping us there."
The Clippers came alive in the second half and defeated the MEMPHIS Grizzlies 101-81, getting 50 points from their reserves. The Los Angeles players accepting a challenge issued by coach Doc Rivers after two consecutive losses and a performance in Atlanta on Wednesday night that Rivers dismissed as "awful."
"Best thing about the NBA is you've got an opportunity the next night," said guard Jamal Crawford, who with guard Darren Collison led the bench brigade with 15 points each. Reserve forward Antawn Jamison finished with 11 points, and rookie guard Reggie Bullock had nine.
"Doc gets frustrated with us (on defense) because we haven't done it consistently," Crawford added.
By playing strong defense until the offense could catch up Thursday, the Clippers (13-7) gave Rivers his 600th career victory as an NBA head coach. He became the 23rd coach in league history to reach the milestone.
"It means I've been around a lot," Rivers said. "It means I've been lucky enough to coach some really good players."
"That team is an elite team," Joerger said of the Clippers. "They weren't going to score 80."
Among the Clippers' starters, point guard Chris Paul had 15 points and eight assists; Griffin finished with 14 points, nine rebounds and five assists; and center DeAndre Jordan scored 10 points and grabbed 14 rebounds.
MEMPHIS led 46-42 with 9:25 left in the third quarter when guard Jerryd Bayless was called for a flagrant-one foul after pushing Griffin. The Clippers forward made two free throws, and Los Angeles was off on a 22-7 run to close the quarter and take a 64-53 lead into the fourth. MEMPHIS scored just 11 points in the third period.
The Grizzlies cut the lead to 64-57 at the start of the fourth quarter as center Kosta Koufos (game-high 17 points) scored twice at the rim. However, the Clippers answered with an 18-5 run that put them up 82-62 with 7:05 to play. Bullock, who averages 2.5 points per game, hit back-to-back 3-pointers near the run's end to boost the lead from 12 to 18 points.
Memphis point guard Mike Conley had 16 points, swingman Quincy Pondexter scored 15, and power forward Zach Randolph had 12 points and 12 boards. Grizzlies forward Ed Davis left the game in the second quarter with a sprained left ankle and did not return.
"I don't think we had a lack of energy," Randolph said. "When they started hitting shots, I think we dropped our heads."
"We have the offensive firepower to be amazing," Paul said. "We've just gotta do it defensively."
They did it well enough that MEMPHIS shot 37.7 percent overall (29-for-77) and 3-for-13 behind the arc (23.1 percent). Randolph was 4-for-13 from the floor.
"The biggest key of the game was DeAndre Jordan guarding Zach," Joerger said. "He guarded Zach, he guarded everybody else, he protected the rim, and he changed shots at the rim."
NOTES: In the 2012 playoffs, the Clippers beat the Grizzlies in Game 7 of the first round in MEMPHIS. Last season, the Grizzlies beat the Clippers in six games in the first round. If not quite a classic rivalry, there is an undeniable edge to the competition. First-year Clippers coach Doc Rivers saw that from afar. "These two teams are not gonna like each other until all the players are traded and all the coaches are fired," Rivers said, "and that's the truth. And I think it's great. I love that kind of stuff. It's good for our game." ... With Thursday's victory, the Clippers lead the all-time series 36-35. ... MEMPHIS PF Zach Randolph started after missing two games because of the removal of an ingrown toenail. "Tell Blake (Griffin) not to step on his foot," Grizzlies coach Dave Joerger said. ... MEMPHIS SG Tony Allen did not play due to a bruised hip. ... Through Wednesday, Los Angeles C DeAndre Jordan's 44 dunks ranked second in the NBA.