The Grizzlies got down in the trenches again and grabbed home-court advantage from the Los Angeles Clippers.
Zach Randolph scored 10 of his 25 points in fourth quarter and the Grizzlies capitalized on Blake Griffin’s ankle injury to beat the Clippers 103-93, taking a 3-2 lead in their 1st-round playoff series.
”It certainly feels better than going home down 2-3,” coach Lionel Hollins said.
Mike Conley added 20 points for the Grizzlies, who will make efforts to wrap it up Friday night at home. The Pacific Division champion Clippers, who won their last 7 games of the regular season to clinch home-court advantage for the first 2 rounds, would force a deciding 7th game on Sunday back at Staples Center with a win in Memphis.
”We’re not going to lay down and we’re never going to give up,” coach Vinny Del Negro said. ”We’re going to play hard, play together and try to do what we can to make it work. We need to regroup and see how healthy we can get between now and then.”
Chris Paul led L.A with 35 points, tying a career playoff high.
”We’ve got to be desperate. That’s how it is,” Paul said. ”I’ve said the playoffs don’t start until someone loses at home, so I guess now they’ve started. We lost here at home. Now it’s do or die in Memphis.”
Griffin was late joining teammates on the floor for warm-ups because he was getting his right ankle worked on. The 3-time All-Star rolled it during Monday’s practice when he stepped on Lamar Odom’s foot during post drills, but nobody in the organization let on and Del Negro failed to broach the topic during his pregame briefing with reporters.
”I kept being optimistic,” Griffin related. ”Our training staff did a great job giving me treatment. I’ve never had a high ankle sprain before.”
Once the game started, Griffin ignored the ankle issue and attacked the Grizzlies in the same reckless fashion that has been his trademark since he came into the league. But he played only 19 minutes – 6 in the second half – and finished with 4 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists. He also got a technical foul from referee Jason Phillips just 3 minutes into the game after scoring on a fastbreak layup and shoving center Marc Gasol’s arm.
”It’s tough. B.G. tried to give it a go, like we all knew he would,” Paul claimed. ”Right now we are fighting for our lives. It’s a tough blow, but what can you do? We’ve got to find how to get through it and figure it out. That’s what the playoffs are all about.
”We tried to come out with some energy. We’ve just got to find a way to get everybody involved. As a point guard, I’ve got to find a way.”
Gasol finished with 21 points and 8 rebounds in a foul-plagued 31 1-2 minutes. He picked up his 5th with 5:39 left in the 3rd quarter, and still managed to be a factor in the fourth. NFL odds
”We won with defense,” Gasol announced. ”Zach did an amazing job under the basket, but defensively is how we won the game.”