The Memphis Grizzlies nearly blew yet another 20+ point lead late in the game, but managed to hold on in the fourth quarter to defeat the Los Angeles Clippers 92-80 and send this series back to Los Angeles.
If Memphis wins game 6 at the Staples Center, then game 7 would take place in Memphis at the FedExForum.
CLIPPERS LOSE CONTROL
Just about everything that could go wrong for Los Angeles went wrong in game 5.
From technical fouls (5, 12 for the series) to injuries to their 2 main stars, the Clippers may in fact have lost all momentum in this series.
Midway through the fourth quarter, point guard Chris Paul aggravated what appeared to be his groin area (an area that has been hurting for a majority of the series). Paul is expected to be good to go for game 6, but groin injuries don’t necessarily heal very quickly and it could very well emerge as a problem in that game.
He did finish with a productive line for the night with 19 points, 6 rebounds and 4 steals, but his evening definitely started off on the wrong foot. Paul had only 1 assist in the first half. If not for a string of 10 points in the final 2 minutes of the third quarter that got the Clippers back in this game, Chris would have ended game 5 with his worst performance of the series.
Like I’ve said so many times before, if Chris Paul is held in check then the Clippers are an entirely different basketball team. Chris let loose late in the third and early in the fourth and that is why Los Angeles erased a 24 point deficit and got to within 6 at one point
Blake Griffin also scared Clippers nation in game 5 after hyper-extending his left knee in a tangled mess down low with Marc Gasol late in the third. Just like Paul, Blake is expected to play in game 6, but this is certainly something to keep an eye on. This is the same knee that kept him out an entire season when he entered the league a few years ago. Griffin had his first playoff double-double in this one with 15 points and 11 rebounds, so losing that production because of a troubled knee would be devastating to the Clippers chances.
GRIZZLIES RETURN TO BASICS…..SOMEWHAT
Dating back to when Memphis swept the #1 seeded San Antonio Spurs in last years playoffs, the offensive game plan for this team was to get Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph good looks in the paint and play inside out basketball.
It appeared for the first half that the Grizzlies were returning to the style of play that made them such a dangerous team in the first place. After scoring just 8 points in all of game 4, center Marc Gasol lit up the Clippers defense for 12 points on 6 of 8 shooting in the first quarter alone. Zach Randolph chipped in 15 points, 5 rebounds and nailed all 6 of his shot attempts after 12 minutes of action as well. When Memphis looked to put the ball in the hands of their all-star bigs, good things were happening.
But for whatever reason, the second half was a completely different story. The Grizzlies got away from their strategy and suffered greatly because of it. After hitting his first 6 shots in the opening quarter, Randolph would miss all 5 of his attempts in the second half. Gasol didn’t hit a shot after the half either.
Why turn away from something that was showing such a high degree of effectiveness? The Clippers had no answer for those 2 in the first quarter. Instead of feeding the ball down low, Memphis began playing one-on-one isolation basketball and that’s when the Clippers made their huge second half run. The Grizzlies would be wise to check the game tapes and realize that in order to steal game 6 in Los Angeles, they need to make Gasol and Randolph the focal points of their offense.
Its been proven to work.
QUOTES OF THE GAME
”We’ve had our backs against the wall. We still have them. We haven’t done anything yet, and we want to take it back to L.A. and give them another big battle.” – Grizzlies center Marc Gasol
”Our Game 7’s Friday.” - Clippers guard Mo Williams
TWEET OF THE GAME
Blake Griffin is diagnosed with a hyperflexed knee, as opposed to his basketball ability which has been diagnosed as an overhyped game.
— Not Bill Walton (@NotBillWalton) May 10, 2012
– Grizzlies fans may hate Blake Griffin, but booing the man when he’s on the ground with an apparent injury is just classless in my opinion. No one was sure how seriously Blake was hurt at that point. I’m positive that if the injury was revealed to be more serious, those fans wouldn’t have been as vocal as they were.
– Marc Gasol must have some big feet because he completely destroyed Blake Griffin’s shoe! Look at the hole he put in that size 17 beast of a sneaker.
– What would a Grizzlies/Clippers recap be without a Blake Griffin dunk? Am I right?
Game 6 Fri. May 11, Memphis at L.A. Clippers, Time TBD
Christopher Walder is a sports blogger and lead editor for Sir Charles in Charge. You may follow him on Twitter @WalderSports