PREGAME REPORT | MAY 3, 2013
Tipoff: 6:30 p.m. PT | FedEx Forum | Memphis, TN | Game Notes »
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After suffering three straight losses by a combined 43 points, the Los Angeles Clippers are faced with a simple concept Friday night in Game 6 of their first round series with the Memphis Grizzlies; win or their historic season is over.
But carrying out that task will be the toughest challenge this team has faced this season as they will need to pull out the victory against one of the top defenses in the NBA in front of one of the NBA’s most hostile crowds at FedEx Forum.
“It’s going to be a big challenge,” Clippers point guard said. “We’re going there to win a game.”
Making the task even more challenging for the Clippers will be the status of superstar Blake Griffin, who is a game-time decision with a high right ankle sprain he suffered in practice on Monday. Griffin tried to give it a go in Game 5 and scored four points, grabbed five rebounds and dished out five assists in 20 minutes but sat out the final 18 minutes of the game. He did not practice Thursday and, while he did say the ankle was feeling “a little better,” the Clippers will have to fight for their season with a diminished Griffin if he plays at all.
Winning at FedEx Forum has been an issue for opposing teams this season as the Grizzlies were 32-9 at home during the regular season. But two of those losses came at the hands of the Clippers, including a 99-73 win on Jan. 14 without Paul, who was nursing a knee injury at the time, and a 91-87 win on Apr. 13 to help secure home court advantage in the opening round series.
“We’ve gone into Memphis a couple of times now and won big games,” Griffin said after Thursday’s practice in Los Angeles. “Last year, we went in and won Game 1 and we needed to win that game, not having home court advantage that flipped the series for us. At the end of the season, we needed that win to get home court advantage to help us out. We know what’s at stake and hopefully we can use that experience and kind of harness that and realize what we did in those games to put us on top.”
Clippers forward Matt Barnes added; “We have confidence that we can go in there and get a win. We just have to go in there and play hard. It’s do or die. There’s no time to pout or feel sorry for ourselves we’ve got to go to Memphis and get a game and force Game 7.”
LAST TIME OUT
With Griffin hobbled by an ankle sprain, Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol outscored the Clippers starting bigs, 46-10. The Clippers gave up 14 offensive rebounds to the Grizzlies which they turned into 19 second-chance points.
After giving up an 11-0 run to the Grizzlies in the third quarter, the Clippers were never able to get their deficit within five for the rest of the game. They cut it to 91-85 in the fourth but Tayshaun Prince hit a 3-pointer from above the break with the shot clock winding down to essentially put the game away.
|GAME 6 FEATURED MATCHUP: CHRIS PAUL VS. QUINCY PONDEXTER
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
Controlling Gasol and Randolph. After holding the Grizzlies vaunted starting frontcourt to a combined 59 points and 21 rebounds in the first two games of the series, the Clippers have had no answer for the destructive duo.
In the last three games, Gasol and Randolph have averaged a combined 45.6 points and 20 rebounds a game including three double-doubles.
“They’re big, they bump and they use their bodies well,” Barnes said. “They’re kind of like throwback players. We’ve got to find a way to neutralize that.”
Gasol and Randolph scored 21 and 25 points respectively in Game 5 and had seven of the Grizzlies’ 14 offensive boards. The Clippers struggled to find a consistent way to defend the duo, especially without Griffin but they will likely throw the kitchen sink at the big men on Friday.
“We double-teamed Zach and Gasol,” Clippers head coach Vinny Del Negro said. “They hurt us with some cutters and they hurt us with offensive rebounds. Then against the zone, when we’ve played it a little bit, it opens up the glass on you and they’re so effective on the glass. But there’s nothing off the board, obviously, we’re looking at everything.”
Help for Paul. The Clippers got 35 points from Paul in Game 5, tying his playoff-career high. But Jamal Crawford was the only other player on the Clippers who scored in double figures with 15 points on 6-for-14 shooting in 36 minutes off the bench.
Paul was 11-for-24 on the night and 11-for-11 from the free throw line. The rest of the team combined for 58 points on 23-for-53 (43.4%) shooting from the field. Eric Bledsoe was the only Clipper to take at least four shots and shoot 50%. The Clippers will need someone to take over the secondary scoring role if Griffin is unable to play on Friday.
Paul blamed himself for not getting others involved. “We have to find a way to get everyone involved, me as a point guard, I have to find a way.”
The Clippers have trailed a best-of-seven series 3-2 three previous times. They are 2-1 on those occasions in Game 6, the last being a 118-106 victory over the Phoenix Suns in 2005-06. But Friday will be the first time the Clippers will face a Game 6 elimination-game on the road…A team leading 3-2 in a best-of-seven series has an 85.7% chance of winning the series with a 216-36 record all-time…DeAndre Jordan is averaging 9.6 rebounds per 36 minutes through five games and Lamar Odom is at 9.0 rebounds per 36 minutes… The Clippers are averaging 26.8 fouls per game, 1.6 fouls ahead of the Atlanta Hawks for the most per game amongst the 16 playoff teams…