LOS ANGELES -- The Memphis Grizzlies defeated the Los Angeles Clippers 103-93 Tuesday night at Staples Center to take a 3-2 lead in their first-round series of the Western Conference playoffs. It was the third consecutive victory for the Grizzlies and the first road win in the series for either team.
Here's a quick breakdown.
How it happened: The Grizzlies played a tough, physical game and outshined a virtuoso performance by Clippers guard Chris Paul, who had 35 points, six rebounds and four assists.
The Clippers, who played much of the second half without injured All-Star forward Blake Griffin (sprained ankle) had no answer for the inside-outside combination of Memphis forward Zach Randolph and guard Mike Conley. Those two combined for 45 points, while center Marc Gasol was unstoppable for stretches at a time and added 21 points and eight rebounds.
Gasol scored six points during an 11-0 Memphis run in the third quarter and routinely got past a wounded Griffin. A few minutes later, Griffin left the game with the Clippers trailing 71-60. He did not return.
Paul and Jamal Crawford made back-to-back 3-pointers to give the Clippers a 40-38 lead with 5:34 left in the first half, but the Clippers went through a bad stretch that turned momentum in favor of the Grizzlies. Memphis went on a 16-5 run over the next 4:46 -- a stretch that included three L.A. turnovers and fouls Nos. 2 and 3 on Griffin -- and took a 54-45 lead.
Paul, however, kept the game from getting out of reach with a pair of layups and a late 3-pointer that cut the Memphis lead to 54-48 at halftime.
Turning point: The Clippers were within two points with 9:55 to play in the third quarter, but Memphis went on an 11-0 run to take a 65-52 lead with 6:28 left in the third. It was the first double-digit lead for either team, and the Grizzlies did not trail again after that.
Player of the game: Randolph scored 10 of his 25 points in the final 10 minutes, 5 seconds of the game, seemingly singlehandedly stemming any chance the Clippers could make a run. The Clippers had cut the Memphis lead to 75-71 with 10:23 to play, but Randolph scored four points during a 6-2 Grizzlies run that kept the Clippers at arm’s length. He scored six more points during a three-minute stretch later in the fourth that helped the Grizzlies maintain a comfortable lead at 89-80. He also had 11 rebounds -- five on the offensive glass.
What it means: Memphis, which left L.A. last week down 2-0 in the series, is one win away from advancing to the second round. Only 15 teams have come back from a 2-0 deficit to win a series in NBA playoff history. The Clippers will need to regroup and find some of the magic that helped them win last season’s series against Memphis.
What’s next: The series will resume Friday in Memphis. Game 7, if necessary, will be Sunday at Staples Center.