GAME 3 A MIRROR IMAGE OF GAME 1
MEMPHIS – Game 3 was the mirror image of Game 1.
Chauncey Bilups said it. Grizzlies head coach Lionel Hollins did as well.
In a game in which the Clippers owned a 2-0 series lead and the Grizzlies came out with the kind of energy only bred from desperation, the advantages that the Clippers used to seize control of the series tilted the Grizzlies’ way at FedEx Forum Thursday.
Memphis won 94-82. The double-digit rebounding edge from Game 1 shifted to the Grizzlies in Game 3. The 20-point difference in second-chance points for the Clippers in the series opener became an 18-point deficit five days later.
“The stats that you’ve seen today were pretty much flip-flopped from Game 1,” Billups said. “The second-chance points, turnovers, offensive rebounds and that’s how they eat. That’s how they play. So, we’ve got to take away a lot of those things from them.”
The Clippers took plenty away from the Grizzlies in the two games at Staples Center, stringing out Memphis’ vaunted defense and neutralizing their presence in the paint and on the offensive glass. That changed Thursday when the series shifted to the gold towel-waving hysteria on Beale Street.
“We didn’t play very well the first game,” Lionel Hollins said. “We played a lot better the second game and even better tonight. We didn’t shoot the ball particularly well, but we played a lot better. It is important to get into the playoff intensity mode. I think we have gotten there. I also think that the same way we were the first game is how they were. They weren’t as intense.”
It showed as Zach Randolph powered his way to six of the Grizzlies’ 17 offensive rebounds. And it showed when the Clippers made their way back into the game only to commit a costly turnover here or have a defensive lapse there.
“We just didn’t execute as well as we needed to do tonight, and the rebounds were obviously a big factor,” Clippers head coach Vinny Del Negro said. “It is hard to run if you don’t have the ball. It is hard to play with any type of tempo if you don’t have the ball. So rebounds, we turned it over the ball too much, we ran the clock too much because of that. And that’s what is going to happen. We have to force some shots. The tempo of the game [and] the second-chance points with their rebound was the difference.”
Clippers center Ryan Hollins said, “They muddied the game up.”
There was the requisite double-foul on Randolph and Blake Griffin. There were two technical fouls, one on Paul and a double-technical on Griffin and Defensive Player of the Year Marc Gasol. As the missed shots, turnovers and free throw disparity mounted, so seemingly did the Clippers’ frustration.
After the game, Eric Bledsoe, who was held scoreless in 15 minutes, looked at Hollins and Billups before leaving the locker room for the team bus and said, “Nobody said it was going to be easy.”
And it likely won’t be. However, the Clippers hope to reestablish some of that desperation when they take the court Saturday afternoon for Game 4, perhaps creating a mirror image of Game 3. According to Ryan Hollins, it’s not a matter of shattering the mirror’s glass, but just getting back to what helped them win in Los Angeles.
“We’ve got to play,” he said. “We’ve got to remember the things that we did to become successful. We stopped moving the ball. We didn’t run the offense the way we should have. We’ve got to keep our pace up. We’re a team that gets up and down the floor and their going to do everything they can in their power to not let us do that.”