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Swift scores season-high 24 for Memphis

1/12/2004

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- The Memphis Grizzlies appeared to be in
trouble when Pao Gasol went to the bench with two fouls in the
first three minutes. Then Stromile Swift came to the rescue.

Swift scored 20 of his season-high 24 points in the first half,
and the Grizzlies needed every one. They beat the Los Angeles
Clippers 108-107 Sunday night on Shane Battier's 11-foot running
jumper with 15.6 seconds left in overtime to snap an eight-game
road losing streak.

Swift outscored the Memphis starters 20-18 in the first half to
help the Grizzlies build a 54-49 lead.

"I tried to go in and bring energy till Pao got back in the
game," Swift said. "I was just trying to do my job and have fun
at the same time. If I was open, I was just going to keep shooting
the ball."

The four-year veteran, whose previous high this season was 19
points on Nov. 29 at Cleveland, matched that total on a short
turnaround jumper with 2:23 left in the second quarter.

"We didn't put a body on him," Clippers forward Elton Brand
said. "He's very athletic. He got a lot of offensive rebounds, a
lot of easy shots, a lot of dunks, and that's his forte. But he
shouldn't score that much on us."

Gasol had 18 points for the Grizzlies, who got back to the .500
mark (18-18) after shooting 53.2 percent from the field. It was
only the fourth time they shot at least 50 percent this season, all
wins.

The Grizzlies, who beat the Clippers in Los Angeles for the
first time in six tries, had not won anywhere outside of Memphis
since sweeping a three-game swing through Cleveland, Boston and New
Jersey Nov. 29-Dec. 3.

"We've been trying hard to get a win on the road, especially in
the West," Gasol said. "We've got to fight and get some more wins
on the road if we want to get somewhere."

Marko Jaric had a season-high 23 points and eight assists for
the Clippers. Brand had 17 points and 12 rebounds before fouling
out with 2:56 left in overtime.

"One of the refs told me that one of the fouls in the first
half shouldn't have been called on me. So without that one, maybe I
could have still been out there," Brand said. "We fought hard to
get a lead in overtime, but then we let it slip away."

Jaric opened the OT with a 3-pointer, giving the Clippers their
first lead since late in the first quarter. The lead changed hands
four more times before Battier made his second field goal of the
game for the game-winner. Maggette drove the lane against Battier
on the Clippers' final possession, but missed a layup with 1.8
seconds on the clock.

"This was a tough one to let get away," Clippers coach Mike
Dunleavy said. "I like that we didn't give up in the game. We were
down by 10 points in the fourth quarter, but the guys really played
hard and did the things we needed to do so that we would have the
opportunity for overtime."

Corey Maggette, returning from a two-game suspension following
his fight with New Jersey's Kenyon Martin, had 21 points. Quentin
Richardson, who sat out Friday's win at Toronto because of a
sprained right hand, played 15 minutes and missed all three shots
he took before leaving the game with 9:14 left in the first half.

"It just wasn't up to the level where I was going to be able to
be effective," Richardson said. "I didn't know it until I
actually got in the game. When you're shooting around before the
game, it's not the same."

The Grizzlies, who blew a 17-point first-quarter lead in Friday
night's 122-116 loss at Seattle, took a 98-88 lead with 2:17 left
in regulation as Jason Williams hit a 16-footer with coach Hubie
Brown screaming at him to milk the clock.

But the Clippers sent it into overtime with a 12-2 run. Reserve
Bobby Simmons converted a three-point play, Maggette sank two free
throws, Jaric drained a 3-pointer from the top of the key and then
hit a driving layup with 3 seconds on the clock. Gasol missed a
driving layup at the buzzer.

"I thought Jaric was absolutely terrific -- not only the 23
points, but also the big plays," Brown said. "He was a handful
down the stretch. He made excellent decisions with the
basketball."

The third quarter ended in spectacular fashion for the Clippers
when reserve guard Eddie House banked in a desperation heave at the
buzzer from just inside the midcourt line to trim the Grizzlies'
lead to 73-70.

Game notes
Swift scored a career-high 31 points on Apr. 17, 2002, at
Seattle. ... Former Clipper Darius Miles, in town a day early for
Cleveland's game against the Lakers, received a warm reception from
the crowd of 13,618 as he shook hands with the game crew at
courtside during a timeout in the second quarter. ... Clippers G
Doug Overton didn't play because of a sprained left foot.