Three hits: Clips lose control of series after Game 4 loss
APR 27, 2013 5:03p ET
Their first-round series against the Memphis Grizzlies may depend on it.
The Clippers and Grizzlies are tied 2-2 in their best-of-seven playoff, and all of a sudden the pendulum has swung toward Memphis, which won Game 4 in a 104-83 rout at FedEx Arena on Saturday. Now the teams return to Staples Center on Tuesday night – and the winner of that game will surely feel a sense of control.
It turns out the Clippers’ regular-season win over the Grizzlies on April 13 was their most important victory of the season because it secured home-court advantage in their series. Without it, they would be forced to win at least one road game.
Now it’s the Grizzlies who must win on the road, something that has proven to be impossible so far.
Here are three talking points from the Clippers’ defeat:
1. Can anybody stop Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol?
The Clippers played effective defense on the Grizzlies’ two big men in Games 1 and 2, but they had no answer to them the past two games. Saturday, the pair had 24 points each and combined for 22 rebounds.
Randolph got inside several times for put-back shots, and Gasol’s outside jumper is soft and accurate, even though his feet barely leave the floor. Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro left DeAndre Jordan on the bench and used 6-foot-10 Ronny Turiaf to guard the 7-1 Gasol for stretches of the second half, a move that didn’t work.
2. Clippers beaten on the boards – again
If there’s one constant in this series, it’s that the team that wins on the boards wins the game. The Grizzlies had a robust 45-28 edge in rebounding Saturday after beating the Clippers in Game 3 by a 45-33 margin.
Even more important, Memphis again crushed the Clippers in offensive rebounds, this time by a 13-5 margin. Randolph had four and Gasol three, and the Clippers did little to keep those two away from the basket.
It will come down to Blake Griffin and Jordan making defensive stops and getting their share of rebounds to blunt Gasol and Randolph the rest of the way.
3. Clippers’ shooters were firing blanks
Memphis’ game is defense and rebounding, but the Grizzlies are showing an aptitude for running, something the Clippers believed was playing into their hands.
So far, it hasn’t. The Grizzlies outscored the Clippers 18-6 in fast-break points, and three of the Clippers’ starters were virtual non-contributors: Chauncey Billups was 0 for 6 shooting, Caron Butler 0 for 4 and Jordan 1-3. Chris Paul and Griffin, with 19 points apiece, were the majority of the Clippers’ offense.
The Clippers’ bench outscored Memphis 43-16, but there wasn’t much production from two of the team’s most reliable reserves: Jamal Crawford missed 7 of 11 shots, and Eric Bledose misfired on all three of his attempts.
Add it up and it means the series is down to a best-of-three. But the Clippers still have home-court advantage.
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