Well, now, that’s more like it! After two straight road losses, the Grizzlies picked up their first victory of the playoff tonight, taking the Clippers down 94-82 at the grindhouse. The Grizzlies were in the lead from the first quarter on, and while the Clippers were able to narrow the gap a few times, Memphis always managed to keep their distance.
The star of tonight’s game was definitely Zach Randolph, who put in 27 points, 11 rebounds, and reminded us once and for all just how good he is. Z-Bo set the tone early, scoring 13 points in the first quarter. After looking decidedly mortal in the early games of this series, Z-Bo was once again extremely effective in the post, shooting 9-18 from the field. Z-Bo also was 9-10 fro the free throw line. Really, he excelled in every possibly category tonight.
The story of the game however was the remarkable ineffectiveness of Chris Paul. After his buzzer-beating dagger put the Clippers up 2-0, the grizzlies exacted revenge tonight, as CP3 was held just eight points on 4-11 shooting. perhaps ore incriminating was that he had more turnovers than assists, something we almost never say about the man widely accepted to be the best point guard in the league. Mike Conley played intense defense on Paul all night long, and that was probably the single biggest reason why the grizzlies eventually emerged victorious.
On the offensive end, Conley had a rough night from the field, shooting just one of nine, but he made up for it in other ways. His brilliant passing set up easy plays for Zach Randolph and Quincy Pondexter, and he set up Jerryd Bayless for an authoritative alley-oop in the fourth quarter, which would allow the Grizzlies to set the tone the rest of the way.
Marc Gasol had another solid game with 16 points, and eight rebounds while Quincy Pondexter was finally unleashed, scoring 13 points and having a key play in the fourth quarter when he picked up the rebound on his own missed free throw, and quickly converted it for a basket, drawing another foul in the process (he would make that free throw), turning a missed free throw into a three-point play.
The biggest reason the Grizzlies won tonight, though, was the rebounding. This was the inverse of Game, as the Grizzlies dominated the boards all night long. They would out-rebound the Clippers 45-33, which included a 45-33 advantage in offensive rebounds. this will likely be the key to the series the rest of the way; in a series where both defenses play tough, whoever does the most work on the glass will likely come out on top.
The Grizzlies desperately needed a win tonight, and they pulled it off. No matter what happens, they avoided the sweep, and if they can win again on Saturday, this will officially be a series.