FINAL | April 30, 2013 | Staples Center | Los Angeles, CA

Clippers

26

28

19

30

103

LOGO

28

20

17

28

93

 

Rafael Guerrero

LOS ANGELES – After Game 2 of their opening round series against the Grizzlies, the Los Angeles Clippers headed to Memphis with a 2-0 lead and their minds set on sending their opponents on an early vacation. When the Clippers return to the “Grindhouse” for Game 6 on Friday night, it will be the Clippers fighting to keep their season alive.

Despite Chris Paul tying his playoff career-high in scoring, the Clippers could not overcome a hobbled Blake Griffin or their opponent’s tenacity on the glass as they fell, 103-93, to the Grizzlies Tuesday night at Staples Center.

They now trail the series 3-2 after dropping three straight to the Grizzlies by a combined 43 points.

“We knew that Game 6 was going to be a closeout game for somebody we were just hoping it wasn’t going to be an opportunity for them,” Paul said. “But it is so now we just got to make it work.”

The Clippers were beaten on the glass for the third straight game as the Grizzlies won the rebounding battle, 42-40, including a 14-12 edge on the offensive boards. The Grizzlies made the Clippers pay for those extra opportunities with 19 second-chance points. The frontcourt duo of Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph also wreaked havoc on the Clippers diminished frontline as they combined for 46 points, 19 rebounds, two blocks and two steals on 17-for-35 shooting.

“The second chance points and just the different things that they do so well put a lot of pressure on us with their two bigs,” Clippers head coach Vinny Del Negro said. “Zach and Marc control everything. We change up different things; try and double team from different angles at times, but then you open yourself up to the rebounds.”

Paul did his best to carry the offense, scoring 35 points on 11-for-24 shooting in 42 minutes but it wasn’t enough as the Clippers were without Griffin for the final 18 minutes of the game. Griffin scored four points, grabbed five rebounds and had five assists through two-and-a-half quarters but could not finish the game due to a severe high ankle sprain he suffered in practice on Monday.

Paul had his shooting stroke going right from the opening tip, hitting an 18-foot jumper for the first basket of the game. He would go on to score 10 points in the opening period to give the Clippers a two-point lead after the first 12 minutes.

He scored 21 points in the first half on 6-for-11 shooting including going 2-for-2 from beyond  the arc and getting to the free throw line seven times, connecting on all of them. He finished the game 11-for-11 from the stripe and grabbed six rebounds, but he also tied a series-low with only four assists. His 35 points were nearly twice as much as the other four starters combined and Jamal Crawford was the only other player to reach double figures, scoring 15 points. Paul took the blame for his teammates’ off night.

“I’ve got figure out a way to be aggressive also and get my teammates involved,” Paul said. “It’s my job to get those guys going, get them shots and we’ve just got to play better.”

Despite Paul’s efforts in the first half, the Grizzlies took a 54-48 lead into the locker room and came up with crucial baskets in the second half whenever the Clippers began to creep closer. Gasol made his first three shots in the third quarter after the Clippers had cut their deficit to two. His turnaround jumper with 6:59 left in the period gave the Grizzlies their first double-digit lead of the game, 62-52, and was part of an 11-0 run that gave them some separation.

The Clippers tried to climb back into the game, but the Grizzlies had an answer every time the hosts cut down the deficit. Paul hit two free throws with 4.3 seconds left in the third to make it 71-65 Memphis, but Jerryd Bayless took the ensuing inbounds pass the length of the floor and hit a driving layup down the middle of the lane to give the Grizzlies an eight-point lead going into the fourth.

The final blow came with 24 seconds left in the game. The Clippers trailed 96-90 and fouled Mike Conley, who missed both free throws. But Gasol swooped in for his second offensive rebound of the game and made both free throws after the Clippers were forced to foul again.

“I’m disappointed with me,” Paul said. “It starts with me on the offensive end and the defensive end. I’ve got to contain the ball. There was a big play at the end of the third quarter where Jerryd drives for the layup, it’s a big play. Fourth quarter I lost track of Tony Allen and he got a big offensive rebound. It starts with me and it’s do or die in Memphis.”

STAT LEADERS

Paul had 35 points (11-24 FG, 2-4 3PT, 11-11 FT) and had six rebounds, four assists and three steals in 42:29.

Jamal Crawford had 15 points (6-14 FG, 1-3 3PT, 2-2 FT) and had three assists, one rebound in 36:00 off the bench.

Randolph had 25 points (11-25 FG, 3-5 FT) along with 11 rebounds, two steals and one assist in 37:34.

QUOTABLES

On DeAndre Jordan’s performance and importance after Griffin’s injury

Paul: “DJ did outstanding. We tried to get the ball inside to him a little bit more tonight and it helped. It’s a great opportunity for him to establish himself and we just got to play regardless. We can’t hold anything back, we got to go out and play.”

On playing without Griffin

Matt Barnes: “People have to step up. We got a very deep team. Obviously losing one of your very best players always hurts you but we don’t have time to feel sorry for ourselves; we got to go out there and play.”

On importance of Tuesday night’s victory

Randolph: “It’s real important just for me to have my confidence. We haven’t done anything yet. We’ve still got one game on Friday. We need to come in and focus and try to finish our business.”

NOTES

Griffin was whistled for a technical foul with 9:02 left in the first quarter, his second of the series. A technical foul has been called in four of the five games this series and the teams have combined for seven technicals… The Grizzlies are 25-1 including the regular season when they score more than 100 points… DeAndre Jordan had six points, eight rebounds and two blocked shots in 31 minutes. It was his third straight home game in the series with eight rebounds…The Clippers were whistled for 23 fouls on Tuesday. They came into the game averaging 27.8 fouls a game during the postseason, the most in the league…In 18 previous games against the Grizzlies, the Clippers were 9-1 when they scored 91 points or more against Memphis prior to Tuesday night’s loss… The Grizzlies had a 17-1 disparity in second-quarter free throw attempts…