FINAL | April 27, 2013 | FedExForum | Memphis, TN

Clippers

25

22

20

16

83

LOGO

33

13

25

33

104

 

Eric Patten

MEMPHIS – Before coming to Memphis the Clippers appeared in prime position to take control of their first round series with the Grizzlies.

They owned a two-game lead and had won four of their last six at FedEx Forum. Five days later and suddenly it’s the Clippers who are faced with the task of turning things back in their favor.

After fighting back from an early deficit to take a one-point lead at halftime, the Clippers were smothered by the host Grizzlies, 104-83, in Game 4, sending the series back to Los Angeles tied at two games apiece.


Blake Griffin scored 19 points with 10 rebounds for his third career postseason double-double, Chris Paul had 19 points and six assists and the Clippers bench outscored the Memphis reserves, 43-16, but the Clippers shot 41.0% from the field and got just two points from three starters combined.

“We definitely had a game to win down four going into the fourth quarter on the road and to lose like that, it is tough,” Paul said. “I didn’t want to come back here by any means, by any means. Now we have to.”

All five Memphis starters reached double digits, led by Marc Gasol posting a dominant 24-point, 13-rebound effort and Zach Randolph’s 24 point and nine boards.

“Those are two big, talented big guys they’ve got,” said Matt Barnes, who had six points off the bench. “And we’ve got to do a better job of helping our bigs get them off the glass and if they’re boxing out, we’ve got to come in as guards and rebound.”

The Grizzlies owned a 44-28 rebounding edge, their second straight double-figure rebounding margin, and had 22 second-chance points. Yet despite the feeling that Memphis was dictating the game, the Clippers took a 60-58 lead early midway through the third quarter. That’s when things unraveled.

Gasol knocked down a 22-foot jumper with 0.6 seconds on the shot clock, a play that seemed to suck the life out of the Clippers.

“When you’re the aggressors, things just tend to go your way,” Jamal Crawford said. “[Gasol’s shot] was one of them. That was a big-time shot.”

Memphis went on a 32-12 run from that point and won going away, matching the Clippers 21-point victory in Game 1 for the largest margin of victory in the series.

“We gave up everything,” Lamar Odom said of the Clippers’ second-half defense. “We fouled them, we gave up points in the paint, they got open threes, they got out on the break. Against a team like this when you’re fighting and going to war, you’ve got to take away a few of their weapons. But they just got what they wanted.”

The early moments of Game 4 looked much like an extension of what happened to the Clippers two nights earlier. FedEx Forum was growling and a different set of yellow towels with the words “Grit” or “Grind” as opposed to “Believe” were spinning amidst a haze of smoke from a pregame pyrotechnics shots inside the arena. The Grizzlies were off to an uncharacteristic high-scoring start, bludgeoning the Clippers with offensive efficiency and a defense that allowed just eight points in more than seven minutes.

But despite the Grizzlies hot-shooting early, the Clippers, aided by 25 first-half points from their bench and as promised an aggressive start from Paul, ground their way back in it. There were no high-wire dunks, although Eric Bledsoe swatting away a Tony Allen layup and darting the other direction for a layup between two defenders was arguably just as impressive. There were not all that many open spaces, either.

The Clippers did it with defense. They held the Grizzlies to 13 points in the second quarter, forcing them to start possessions later in the shot clock with ball pressure from Bledsoe and Barnes and by the time Paul returned to the game with 6:02 to go in the half, the once 12-point Grizzlies lead was already reduced to four.

Paul scored nine of the Clippers’ final 11 points of the half, capping it with a twisting layup with one second left that gave his team a 47-46 lead.

But that was countered by Memphis in the second half when they pulled away with a 19-5 start to the fourth quarter.

“We were right in there in the third quarter,” Clippers head coach Vinny Del Negro said. “ had that stretch in the fourth where we just couldn’t control them well enough. They made a run and we didn’t have a good answer to it. That’s what happened so the series is tied up.”

STAT LEADERS

Randolph scored 24 points (11-17 FG, 2-4 FT) and had nine rebounds, two assists, five turnovers and a blocked shot in 36:55.

Paul had 19 points (7-13 FG, 1-3 3PT, 4-5 FT) along with six assists, one turnover, two rebounds and a steal in 36:11.

Gasol matched Randolph with 24 points (9-14 FG, 6-7 FT) and added 13 boards, four assists and three blocks in 42:16.

Griffin had 19 points (7-13 FG, 5-5 FT) with 10 rebounds and two assists in 31:30.

QUOTEABLES

On what went wrong for the Clippers in Game 4:

Lamar Odom: “Execution and cohesiveness as a unit. When things get tight everybody’s got to be on the same page and remain on the same page, especially on the road. It’s tough. We just have to get it together defensively and offensively, especially against a team like that.”

On the reason the Grizzlies have been able to force their style of play on the Clippers:

Matt Barnes: “We’ve got to take the ball out of the basket every time. You can’t get out in transition if you can’t play defense.”

On where he was better in Games 3 and 4 compared to the first two games of the series:

Zach Randolph: “I think just getting the ball in the right spots, picking and choosing, being aggressive instead of holding and waiting for a double team to come [has been the difference]. My teammates have been doing a great job of getting me the ball.”

NOTES

Chauncey Billups went 0-for-6 and was held scoreless in 18:01. It is the first time since 2001 that Billups has not scored a single point in a post season game and first time he’s ever done so while playing more than eight minutes… Reserve point guard Keyon Dooling (neck) did not play for the Grizzlies… The Clippers were 15-for-17 from the foul line and are shooting 81.7% at the charity stripe in four postseason games… Odom made a 3-pointer in the third quarter, his fourth shot from beyond the arc in the series… Mike Conley has 23 assists in the last two games, including 13 in Game 4… The Clippers committed just 10 turnovers, including two shot-clock violations, a game after having 18 miscues…