THE FACTS: Even if the Clippers had Blake Griffin playing at 100 percent, they likely would have struggled to find a solution for Zach Randolph. The broad-shouldered power forward for the Grizzlies continued to play like the 2011 postseason version of Randolph, pouring in 25 points and grabbing 11 rebounds to lead Memphis to a 103-93 victory Tuesday night in Game 5 of the Western Conference first-round series at Staples Center, giving them a 3-2 series lead heading back to Tennessee for Game 6.
QUOTABLE: "Zach took over and carried us with big plays."
-- Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins
THE STAT: The Clippers fell to 1-8 all time in Game 5s. They also lost Game 5 of their first-round series last season against the Grizzlies, but regrouped to win in seven.
TURNING POINT: The first indication the Clippers might be in trouble was during pre-game warmups, when Griffin was late coming onto the floor. Just before the tip, it was announced that he had suffered a high right ankle sprain after landing on teammate Lamar Odom's foot during practice Monday. Griffin went through treatment most of the night and then gave it go, totaling four points, three rebounds and two assists in the first quarter before ultimately wearing down under the weight of the injury and departing for good with 5:39 remaining in the third quarter. The Clippers managed to keep things interesting, getting as close as two points early in the third quarter and four early in the fourth, but each time they made a surge, Randolph usually pushed back.
QUOTABLE II: "The rebounding won the game for us. We only had seven turnovers and we played the way we've been playing the last few games."
-- Lionel Hollins
HOT: Randolph didn't bask alone in the sunlight of success. Marc Gasol had 21 points and eight rebounds, Mike Conley contributed 20 points and six assists and the least likely contributor was Tayshaun Prince, who finished with 15 points on 6-for-10 shooting. All of those performances helped overshadow a fantastic individual effort by Clippers point guard Chris Paul, who matched his playoff career high with 35 points. Paul, who came in averaging 18.4 points in the series, scored 21 in the first half, but also had a heavily bandaged left hand during the postgame news conference.
NOT: It's the second straight year Griffin was mostly injury free during the regular season, only to get injured in the first round. Last season, Griffin suffered a knee injury in Game 5 against the Grizzlies, an ailment that hampered him enough that he dropped out of the London Olympics last summer. Outside of Paul, the rest of the L.A. starters combined for 18 points and high-scoring reserve Jamal Crawford needed 14 shots to score 15 points. Odom spelled Griffin, but committed three turnovers in his first six minutes on the floor.
GOOD MOVE: The Grizzlies must have sensed that Griffin wasn't sound because they went to the well repeatedly against the Clippers, forcing them to go deep into their bench. Ryan Hollins and Ronny Turiaf were forced to try and defend Randolph, but an injured Griffin probably had a better shot at slowing Randolph than that duo. The Clippers also came with a good strategy, pushing the pace and attempting to penetrate every chance they had. Paul didn't wait until the fourth quarter to do most of his scoring, as he normally does, being aggressive with his shot almost from the opening tip.
BAD MOVE: The Clippers plan of maintaining an up-tempo pace took a u-turn in the second quarter when they were called four three defensive 3-second violation in span of three minutes. The technical fouls not only put points on the board for the Grizzlies, but took the Clippers out of their offensive rhythm enough that they were outscored, 28-20, in the quarter to fall behind by six at the half.
QUOTABLE III: "They do so well to put a lot of pressure on his with their two bigs, Zach and Marc control everything."
-- Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro
NOTABLE: Clippers guard Chauncey Billups, who went 0-for-6 from the field while going scoreless in Game 4, played just 12 minutes, scoring three points on 1-for-2 shooting. ... The Clippers had the second-best winning percentage in the NBA during the regular season when leading after the first quarter (43-4) but fell to 1-1 in this series.
UP NEXT: For the Clippers, Friday @ Memphis, Sunday vs. Memphis (if necessary). For the Grizzlies, Friday vs. L.A. Clippers, Sunday @ L.A. Clippers (if necessary).