Filed underNBA Playoffs
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) Marc Gasol scored 23 points andZach Randolph added 19 as the Memphis Grizzlies avoided elimination by beating the Los Angeles Clippers 92-80 on Wednesday night, forcing a Game 6 in the Western Conference first-round series.
With Gasol and Randolph scoring early, the Grizzlies looked like the team that knocked off top-seeded San Antonio last spring and took Oklahoma City to seven games in the conference semifinals.
Game 6 is Friday night in Los Angeles. If the Grizzlies can win, Game 7 would be Sunday in Memphis.
Rudy Gay added 14 points for Memphis.
Paul strained a groin muscle and appeared to jam a finger while Griffin hyperextended his left knee.
Paul almost singlehandedly gave the Clippers a chance to close out this series by scoring eight of his 27 points in overtime of Game 4.
This time, the four-time All-Star guard had just five points by halftime and scored nothing in this fourth quarter. He was grimacing early in the fourth quarter and was on the bench with the injured right groin. An injured groin kept him out of the Clippers’ regular season finale, a loss to New York that cost Los Angeles the No. 4 seed.
The Clippers came in needing a win to clinch their first series since 2006 and advance to a second-round series against top-seeded San Antonio. But even though Paul has plenty of postseason experience, this was the first close-out game for the likes of Griffin, Randy Foye and DeAndre Jordan.
Los Angeles last led at 17-16 before a fastbreak layup by Tony Allen that was set up by a long pass from Gasol put Memphis ahead to stay at 18-17 with 5:40 left in the first quarter.
The Clippers closed the third quarter with a 14-2 run and got within six twice to conjure up memories of Memphis blowing a 27-point lead in Game 1. Foye pulled the Clippers within 85-79 on a layup with 55.7 seconds left.
With CP3 on the bench, that was as close as they would get.
In the arena nicknamed the Grindhouse in honor of the Grizzlies’ bruising, blue-collar style, Memphis pounded the ball into the paint and banged on the Clippers all game long. The Grizzlies outscored Los Angeles 48-26 in the paint and had a 42-35 edge in rebounds.
Griffin twice limped to the bench, once late in the first quarter with what appeared to be a ripped shoe. Then he went down under the basket late in the third after his legs tangled with Gasol’s, and Griffin kept rubbing and holding his left knee. He walked gingerly to the bench, but returned. It was the same knee that cost him his first season in the NBA.
Gasol scored 12 points in the first quarter. Randolph, who looked nothing like the double-double machine of last season’s playoffs, hit his first six shots in scoring 15 points while grabbing five rebounds as Memphis led 36-22 at the end of the first quarter.
The Grizzlies led 57-42 at halftime and led by as many as 24 before the Clippers tried to make it interesting again.
This physical series went to a new level in the second quarter when Eric Bledsoe of the Clippers ran over to defend Quincy Pondexter and bumped him to the court. Bledsoe then heaved the ball up into the air, drawing a technical foul. That was the first of five for the Clippers with four coming in the third quarter as Paul, Williams and coach Vinny Del Negro let their frustration boil over.
Notes: The Clippers have been called for 12 technicals in this series and the Grizzlies six. … Los Angeles’ Caron Butler, playing with a broken left hand, had seven points in the first quarter. He finished with eight after missing his last five shots. … Agent Jimmy Sexton and Dontari Poe, the first-round draft pick by the NFL’s Kansas City Chiefs, sat courtside next to the Clippers’ bench. Titans safety Robert Johnson and cornerback Alterraun Verner were in the stands.