LOS ANGELES (AP) — Zach Randolph scored 10 of his 25 points in the fourth quarter and the Memphis Grizzlies capitalized on Blake Griffin’s ankle injury to beat the Los Angeles Clippers 103-93 on Tuesday night, taking a 3-2 lead in their first-round playoff series.
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 on Sunday back at Staples Center with a win in Memphis.
Chris Paul led Los Angeles with 35 points, tying a career playoff high.
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, but no one in the organization let on, and coach Vinny 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 19 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 3 minutes into the game after scoring on a fastbreak layup and shoving center Marc Gasol’s arm.
Gasol finished with 15 points and seven rebounds in a foul-plagued performance.
Memphis took its biggest lead, 65-52, on Conley’s three-point play with 6:28 left in the third quarter. The Grizzlies opened the fourth with a 73-65 advantage before the Clippers closed on Paul’s layup and Matt Barnes’ fastbreak slam off a long pass by Jamal Crawford.
From then on, it was up to Paul and the reserves to bail out the Clippers. But Randolph was too much to deal with again, following his dominant efforts in Games 3 and 4.
Tayshaun Prince helped wrap it up with a layup and a 3-pointer in the final minutes after the Clippers got within five on a short jumper by Crawford with 1:49 remaining.
During a bruising opening half, 24 fouls were called and neither team led by more than four until Gasol’s three-point play gave the Grizzlies a 46-40 margin with 2:35 left. Griffin picked up his third foul on the play and his second in a span of 28 seconds.
One key sequence came when Conley hit an off-balance 11-foot bank shot with 1:08 left in the half and Clippers reserve center Ryan Hollins threw the ensuing inbounds pass right to Randolph. Moments later, Conley converted two free throws to give Memphis a nine-point lead 48 seconds before intermission.
With the sellout crowd of 19,384 urging him on, Paul responded with a 3-pointer. His driving layup was blocked by Prince at the end of the half.
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