GAME 2 SHOOT-AROUND REPORT: BATTLE OF THE BOARDS
PLAYA VISTA – Eric Bledsoe, the diminutive Clippers guard who had as many rebounds in the series opener as Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol combined, said Monday at shoot-around prior to a pivotal Game 2 that the Clippers tried to “beat [Memphis] at the their own game.”
Bledsoe had six of the Clippers 47 rebounds on Saturday, including swooping in for a reverse layup to put back a Blake Griffin miss. They out-rebounded the Grizzlies, one of the league’s premier teams on the offensive glass in the regular season, an astounding, 47-23. Gasol and Randolph managed just six total boards, while four Clippers had at least that many.
“We rebounded as a team, nobody had crazy numbers as far as rebounding is concerned,” Lamar Odom said Monday. “We were really focused on boxing out and keeping those guys off the glass, especially Zach Randolph. We have to do a good job. And it’s going to be a fight tonight, and be physical.”
While the Clippers’ edge on the glass should not be expected in Game 2, there is precedent that when they have honed in on the Grizzlies’ strength they have had a measure of success.
In the last two regular season games between the two teams (the only two since the Tayshaun Prince trade), the Clippers owned a plus-five rebounding advantage. Odom, who led all Clippers reserves with 5.9 rebounds per game and had seven Saturday, said it’s a matter of understanding what Memphis does well and how to take it away.
“I think by focusing and understanding their strengths,” Odom said. “For us, sometimes it’s a little bit of a weakness because we start to run before we get the ball. If you don’t rebound against these guys, you have no chance at all.”
Griffin and DeAndre Jordan spent much of the first game pushing Randolph and Gasol away from the basket area. They fought. They scrapped for position and while their rebounding numbers (five and eight, respectively) were below their usual combined output, they were arguably as big of a factor as any
“I thought Blake and DJ did a great job in terms of getting bodies on their bigs as much as possible and our guards did a good job coming in and getting long rebounds,” Clippers head coach Vinny Del Negro said. “Their high-low game is very difficult to contend with but we were able to control the glass.”
“I thought Caron getting seven rebounds was huge for us last night. He was active.”
Chris Paul said after Sunday’s practice he doesn’t expect the rebounding margin to remain as lopsided in Game 2.
“I think the biggest number that we looked at was the rebounding,” Paul said. “Obviously, that probably won’t happen again in this series just by circumstance, but we did an outstanding job on the boards. Some of the plays don’t show up on the stat sheet. A few of the box outs Blake and DJ had, they boxed out and other guys got the rebound.”
Still, for Butler, who only had seven or more rebounds in three regular-season games, the effort level on the glass will have to remain the same because it fueled a number of other things the Clippers were doing on both ends of the floor.
“It was a collective effort,” Butler said. “That was something that we thought about going into the game, something that was a point of emphasis. The big guys, all the credit goes to DJ and Blake, those guys covering their man and leaving room for us to get in there, me, Chauncey, Chris, you know, all the guards and forwards, to get in there and get scrappy and get some rebounds and get out in transition.”
“We know they’re great at rebounding the ball and being scrappy,” Butler said. “Once you get control of that you have a shot at winning the ball game.”
THEY SAID IT
On the approach to Game 2 after winning the series opener:
Lamar Odom: “Our discipline is important, especially at this time of year. It’s easy to let your guard down, especially after a little bit of success. I think mentally right now we’re prepared and we’re up for the challenge. I’m pretty sure they are as well.”
On what the team emphasized improving from Game 1 to 2:
Eric Bledsoe: “We can give more defensive effort, run our offense better. There are a lot of areas we can get better, you know, giving 110 [percent effort] on hustle plays. It’s everything.”
“We’ve beat them four out of five games, so they’re definitely going to want to come in here tonight and prove a point. We’ve just got to match that intensity.”
On what he expects from the Grizzlies in Game 2:
Jamal Crawford: "This is an important game. This game here can kind of shift the series, either 2-0 or 1-1. We understand they’re a desperate team, but we have to play as a desperate team as well."