NBA PLAYOFFS: Grizzlies eliminate Clippers 118-105
Mike Conley and Zach Randolph scored 23 points each, and the Grizzlies beat the Los Angeles Clippers 118-105 on Friday night to take the first-round series 4-2.
The Grizzlies had never won four straight postseason games before this series, and they became only the 10th team in NBA history to win four straight after trailing 0-2. They will open the second round at Oklahoma City on Sunday in a rematch of the franchise’s only other Western semifinal that the Thunder won in seven in 2011.
Memphis finished with seven players in double figures. Tony Allen had a postseason-best 19 points, and Jerryd Bayless had 16.
Reserve Matt Barnes scored a career playoff-best 30 points for Los Angeles. Chris Paul had 28 points before being ejected with 2:29 left for crashing into Marc Gasol off a missed free throw, though he shook hands with several Grizzlies before going to the locker room. Blake Griffin didn’t start because of his sprained right ankle, and he scored nine points in 13:56. Caron Butler added 14.
NBA Commissioner David Stern was on hand along with Atlanta Falcons receiver Julio Jones. Conley had old Ohio State teammate Greg Oden in the arena as well.
Having the commissioner on hand didn’t slow anyone down in a game featuring lots of headlocks and knockdowns with the only thing missing a steel cage as they combined for seven technicals. Even Grant Hill had three fouls in 3 minutes himself in the first half, and Chauncey Billups got a flagrant-1.
Randolph was ejected, too, with 1:57 remaining. He tossed his headband toward the stands and celebrated as he walked to the locker room.
The Clippers set a franchise record going 56-32 in the regular season, earning the No. 4 seed. They won the first two in Los Angeles but came into Game 6 trying to avoid being eliminated by the team they beat in seven in the first round a year ago. They had hoped to force Game 7 back in Los Angeles on Sunday only to lose four consecutive games for only the third time all season.
Los Angeles led only once — at 45-44 on Barnes’ fourth 3-pointer with 5:08 left in the second quarter. The teams had four more ties before Quincy Pondexter hit a 3 with 2:02 left putting the Grizzlies ahead to stay at 54-51.
The Clippers had one last run, a 10-1 spurt capped by Butler’s 20-foot jumper with 5:16 left pulling them within 103-97. Conley hit a 3 followed by a 3 from Bayless, and Randolph’s scored inside with 3:06 remaining to push the lead back to double digits at 111-99.
It was so physical that Memphis coach Lionel Hollins sprinted onto the court in the second quarter after Butler went over Gasol’s back for a rebound, leaving the Grizzlies center on the court pushing Butler’s leg away as he got up. Chauncey Billups had as many fouls (four) as points (four). He got a flagrant-1 in the third when he put his body into Conley trying to stop a fast-break layup attempt and putting his right arm around Conley’s neck as they went to the floor.
Conley hit the free throws, then hit a 3-pointer from the left corner giving the Grizzlies a 74-61 lead with 7:11 left.
After the bucket, Randolph and Griffin wrestled themselves to the court in a tangle of bodies. That earned the duo their fourth double-foul in this series with Randolph getting a technical. Paul picked up his own technical from referee Joey Crawford for his disgust when Randolph scored and picked up the foul.
Griffin was called for a technical himself in the fourth when he knocked down Allen on a drive to the basket after the Grizzlies guard already had been fouled by Barnes. Bayless hit the free throw for the technical, and Allen added his two pushing the lead back to 97-87.
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