GRIFFIN, RANDOLPH EMBRACE PHYSICAL PLAY
MEMPHIS – Plenty has been made of the physicality of the first three games of the Clippers’ first-round series with the Grizzlies, particularly the grappling going on between All-Stars Blake Griffin and Zach Randolph.
Griffin and Randolph have battled foul trouble off and on throughout the series and they have been whistled for a double foul once in each game.
“They’re getting locked up a lot,” Clippers head coach Vinny Del Negro said. “Memphis doesn’t give you anything. You’re going to have to earn it.”
Randolph thinks the idea that it is more physical than other matchups is somewhat overblown. “I mean, Blake’s a physical player, so [am I],” he said. “I just think it’s getting blown out of proportion.”
Chauncey Billups said it’s not much different than what he’s seen in the past, which included six consecutive trips to the Eastern Conference Finals with a rugged Detroit Pistons team. Del Negro, though, said Saturday afternoon prior to Game 4 that Randolph is unique in some ways.
“He’s different just because he’s very crafty,” he said. “He doesn’t obviously have Blake’s athleticism so he’s got to do other things to keep Blake on the ground and use his body. He’s good with angles and things, but it’s nothing Blake’s not used to.”
There’s no question the constant battle going on under the basket makes the game a challenge to officiate.
“I had never heard of a double foul,” Randolph said. “Whoever initiates [contact] first should get the foul, but it is what it is. He grabs me first or I grab him first and they catch it late and call a double-foul.”
But Griffin says that doesn’t mean you can take a passive approach.
“You’ve just got to play hard and if calls don’t go your way, then that’s the thing about us,” Griffin said. “We have a deep team, we can use that to our advantage if guys get in foul trouble.
“You don’t want to error on the side of caution. You don’t want to error on the side of not being physical and giving up rebounds and giving up space, giving up positioning.”
Griffin’s averaging 5.0 rebounds in the series, three fewer than his regular season average, while Randolph is at 7.7 per game, an equally significant dip in his typical production. Part of that is due to trying to keep each other away from the ball as it caroms off the rim.
EBBS AND FLOWS
Chauncey Billups, who is one of two Clippers along with Lamar Odom to play in more than 100 career playoff games, talked about the way the perception of a series can be altered with each game.
“Every series really is an emotional roller coaster,” Billups said. “I mean you go from Game 1, where it’s like the biggest game of the series, you can’t lose home court to playing with that pressure. And then Game 2, knowing that it’s a trap game, you don’t want to have a false sense of where you’re at. You want to come out, play hard and try to win that game. Then you win that game and then it’s like, ‘Aww, man, we’re alright now.’
“Then you come here and now they’re in a desperate situation. You don’t want to get caught with your hands down but then they win [Game 3] and now you’ve got a really big game on the road. You’ve just got to try to stay consistent.”