LOS ANGELES – The Memphis Grizzlies got down in the trenches again and grabbed home-court advantage from the Los Angeles Clippers.
Zach Randolph scored 10 of his 25 points in the fourth quarter, and the Grizzlies capitalised on Blake Griffin’s ankle injury to beat the Clippers 103-93 last night at the Staples Centre, taking a 3-2 lead in their first-round playoff series.
“It certainly feels better than going home down 2-3,” coach Lionel Hollins said.
Mike Conley added 20 points for the Grizzlies, who will try to wrap it up Friday night at home. The Pacific Division champion Clippers, who won their last seven games of the regular season to clinch home-court advantage for the first two rounds, would force a deciding seventh game for Sunday back at Staples Centre with a win in Memphis.
“We’re not going to lay down and we’re never going to give up,” coach Vinny Del Negro said. “We’re going to play hard, play together and try to do what we can to make it work. We’ve got to regroup and see how healthy we can get between now and then.”Chris Paul led Los Angeles with 35 points, tying a career playoff high.
“We’ve got to be desperate. That’s how it is,” Paul said. “I’ve said the playoffs don’t start ’til somebody loses at home, so I guess now they’ve started. We lost here at home. Now it’s do or die in Memphis.”
Griffin was late joining teammates on the floor for warm-ups because he was getting his right ankle worked on. The three-time All-Star rolled it during Monday’s practice when he stepped on Lamar Odom’s foot during post drills, but no one in the organisation let on, and Del Negro didn’t broach the subject during his pregame briefing with reporters.Once the game started, Griffin ignored the ankle issue and attacked the Grizzlies in the same reckless manner that has been his trademark since he came into the league. But he played only 20 minutes – six in the second half – and finished with four points, five rebounds and five assists. He also got a technical foul from referee Jason Phillips just three minutes into the game after scoring on a fastbreak layup and shoving centre Marc Gasol’s arm.
Gasol finished with 21 points and eight rebounds in a foul-plagued 31 1/2 minutes. He picked up his fifth with 5:39 left in the third quarter and still managed to be a factor in the fourth.
In the other play-off game at the Pepsi Centre in Denver, the Nuggets beat Golden State Warriors to reduce their visitors series lead to 3-2.