Eric Patten (@ericpatten) | 5/11/12

LOS ANGELES–Back to Staples Center they come.

The Clippers, who lead the series 3-2, will try for the second time to close out the Grizzlies and advance to the second round to face the top-seeded San Antonio Spurs. This time they’ll get a shot to do it in front of their home fans, but with superstars Chris Paul and Blake Griffin listed as game-time decisions after sustaining injuries in the team’s Game 5 loss at FedEx Forum.

An MRI exam Thursday on Griffin’s sprained left knee, revealed no structural damage. Paul is nursing a strained right hip flexor.

“We have a lot of confidence going back home,” DeAndre Jordan said. “We would have loved to close it out [in Memphis] but we didn’t. So we will go home and feed off our home crowd.”

May 11, 2012 | 6:00 PM (PST)
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There’s a sense of urgency to finish the series off Friday and avoid heading back to Memphis for Game 7. According to TNT Sports, 87% of teams hosting the decisive game win.


Grizzlies 92, Clippers 80 (Clippers lead series, 3-2): Led by Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol, the Grizzlies put together another overwhelming first quarter, only to go cold in the second half and nearly cough up a lead that was as large as 24 points. Still, Memphis’ 36-22 opening quarter was too much for the visiting Clippers to overcome in Game 5.

L.A. is shooting 47.1% in the series, but managed just a 37.1% clip Wednesday in Memphis. Despite the poor performance from the field, the Clippers were able to close within six points twice in the fourth as the Grizzlies scored six points in 11 minutes. Mo

Williams had 20 points on 8-for-21 shooting, Griffin scored 15 with 11 rebounds, and Chris Paul finished with 19 points and six rebounds.

“We didn’t shoot the ball well enough tonight, turned it over a little too much in the second half and didn’t shoot it well enough,” Clippers head coach Vinny Del Negro said. “But we kept fighting and got after it defensively in the second half. We made them work for everything, and got out on the break. We just weren’t able to convert. We didn’t shoot a high enough percentage to put enough pressure on them.”

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The Grizzlies responded down the stretch with tough baskets by Rudy Gay and Mike Conley and sealed the game when Gay snagged an offensive rebound off a missed free throw by Randolph with 43.6 seconds to go and dribbled into a layup to make it 89-80. FULL RECAP


–Health. Obviously, the biggest concern for the Clippers in Game 6 will be the health of Paul and Griffin. If either or both of the superstar duo is limited, it greatly changes the tenor of the game and potentially the series.

Paul and Griffin have combined for 46% of the Clippers’ points in the series and they are arguably the two best players on the floor for either side. INJURY UPDATE

–Home-court Advantage. After their previous home games in the series, several members of the Clippers said the Staples Center crowd had a major effect. And while they were able to steal Game 1 in Memphis, the Clippers have put together far more complete efforts at home.

All ticketed attendees will receive a commemorative playoff t-shirt (size XL), courtesy of 1-800-LoanMart entering STAPLES Center. DETAILS

After Game 5, both Jordan and Randy Foye said they were looking forward to returning to the sea of red shirts waiting back in L.A.

“Our biggest thing is once we get to the Staples Center, we will take care of business,” Foye said. CROWD CARRIES CLIPPERS


Chris Paul vs. Everyone and the kitchen sink

Hollins has been both coy and candid about the Grizzlies’ need to halt Paul. Prior to Game 5, he said he might use Mike Conley on Paul more throughout the game. He promptly opened with Tony Allen. Down the stretch, with Allen on the bench, Hollins lined up 6-foot-6, second-year man Quincy Pondexter across from Paul as opposed to O.J. Mayo, who played just 13:49.

At times, it hasn’t mattered if it’s been Conley or Allen, Pondexter or Mayo, Paul has still found ways to get to his spots and dissect the Grizzlies vaunted defense. He’s averaging 22.6 points, 7.8 assists, 5.2 rebounds, and 2.8 steals and has helped the Clippers put the game away in the fourth quarter in each of their three wins.

In Game 5, Paul’s poorest performance of the series partly because of his hip injury with 5:16, the Grizzlies accomplished one of their primary goals: keeping Paul on one side of the floor. And Hollins credited Pondexter.

“He [Pondexter] was one of the few guys that kept Chris in front of him,” Hollins said. “Everyone else was letting him get on the side of him and he's getting to the basket and getting behind you. Nobody can really stop Chris, but just [Quincy] being in the game gave us another body and another defensive player that could go on the other end and make an open shot if he was left alone.”


Through five games there have 19 technical fouls in the series, including six in Game 5. Six Clippers players and Del Negro have accumulated 12 technicals… The Clippers are 22-10 in the regular season and playoffs when Butler scores 13 or more points… The Grizzlies have lost five in a row to the Clippers at Staples Center… In franchise history, the Clippers have played a Game 6 four times. They are 2-2… Eric Bledsoe and Nick Young have combined to score 26 points in the fourth quarters of L.A.’s three victories… The Grizzlies have outscored (478-465) and outrebounded (250-236) the Clippers in the series.


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