MEMPHIS, Tenn. — O.J. Mayo felt so responsible for how Memphis blew a 27-point lead in the series opener with the Clippers that he had barely slept since that loss. He made sure all the Grizzlies can sleep well now.
Mayo scored 10 of his 20 points in the fourth quarter, and Memphis bounced back to beat Los Angeles 105-98 on Wednesday night in Game 2.
“We’ll get some good rest tonight and go to L.A. for two more games,” Mayo said.
The Grizzlies collapsed Sunday night, letting the Clippers grab home-court advantage in the best-of-seven, first-round Western Conference series. Down 21 points at the start of the fourth quarter, the Clippers tied the NBA playoff record for largest final-period comeback.
The schedule meant the Grizzlies had two days between games to simmer over what went wrong.
“That was tough to lose in the fashion we did, then have to sit there and watch it on ESPN every day and the miraculous comeback and that stuff,” Grizzlies forward Rudy Gay said. “That’s what kind of had us come in here today and play like we did…. We didn’t have any lapses like we did before.”
The Grizzlies made sure to return to their physical style in evening the series with Game 3 in Los Angeles on Saturday. The Clippers feel like they missed a big opportunity.
“I think we’re madder about losing this one than as excited as we were about winning Game 1 because we felt like we came out with the right mentality,” All-Star guard Chris Paul said. “We hit first and stuff like that. But it just didn’t work in our favor.”
Gay also scored 21 points and Memphis showed off its depth with six players reaching double figures. Mike Conley had 19, Zach Randolph 15, Marreese Speights 11 and Tony Allen 10.
Paul led the Clippers with 29 points. Blake Griffin had 22, and Mo Williams and Nick Young 11 apiece.
Memphis coach Lionel Hollins called Paul a great player, someone the coach used three or four different Grizzlies trying to defend.
“He scored on everybody so who do you want me to put on him? I can’t come off the bench and guard him,” Hollins said. “I’m too old.”
The Grizzlies had the lead going into the fourth quarter for a second straight game. This time, the Clippers got no closer than four.
Memphis led 75-69 at the start of this fourth quarter, and Paul’s four-point play with 8:06 left got the Clippers to 83-79. The Grizzlies answered with Conley scoring on a driving layup, followed by another 3 from Mayo.
“I got to give a big credit to O.J. Mayo,” Allen said. “He opened the game up for us.”
Bobby Simmons, starting with Caron Butler out with a broken left hand, scored seven of his nine points in the fourth.
It wasn’t enough as Gay and Randolph combined to score six straight points with Gay’s basket giving Memphis its biggest lead of the night at 97-84 with 3:52 remaining. The Grizzlies sealed the victory by hitting six of 10 free throws in the final 47.6 seconds.
Both the Clippers and Grizzlies started this game as if they simply picked up Sunday night when Los Angeles finished the game on a 28-3 run.
Playing aggressively, the Clippers jumped out to a 6-1 lead as the Grizzlies missed their first four shots. Memphis didn’t hit its first shot until Conley’s driving layup with 8:19 left in the first quarter, and Gay missed his first three shots before hitting a 15-foot jumper.
The Clippers shot 64.7 percent (11 of 17) in the first quarter and hit 4 of 6 at the free throw line. But they just couldn’t match the Grizzlies who outrebounded the Clippers (37-2) with a big edge on the offensive boards (16-4), which they used to outscore them 18-6 on second-chance points. Memphis also had a 46-38 edge in the paint.
Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro said the Grizzlies fed off offensive rebounds and 21 turnovers, and his team helped them too much. Los Angeles center DeAndre Jordan agreed.
“We felt like we should have won the game tonight,” Jordan said. “Our turnovers, we gave them 25 points off our turnovers. You can’t win a game like that. We definitely feel confident going home with a split, but in reality we should have two games right now.”
Paul blamed himself with five turnovers of his own.
“I’ve got to figure out how to get them off of me,” Paul said. “Some of them were just bad passes and stuff like that, but when you’re getting in the lane and it’s the playoffs, they’re going to let you play and they’re going to let them grab and hold and stuff like that.”
The emotions are starting to boil in this series, and the Grizzlies brought out wrestler Jerry “The King” Lawler came out and delivered a pile driver to someone dressed up as a Clippers’ fan. That almost seemed to help spark the Grizzlies.
They opened the second quarter hitting six of their first seven shots and took their first lead on a pair of free throws by Mayo at 31-30 early in the quarter. Nick Young tied it at 37 on a 3 with 6:22 left, then Marreese Speights tipped in a bucket with 5:53 left, and the Grizzlies never trailed or were tied again. Memphis led 51-47 at halftime.
Memphis hit 11 3-pointers in Game 1 and reverted back to the team that ranked 25th in the NBA from outside the arc by missing its first eight attempts Wednesday night. Mayo finally ended the drought with his 3 over Griffin with 9:32 left, and he followed with a jumper on the next possession giving Memphis an 82-73 lead.
Notes: Memphis had its eighth straight playoff sellout going back to last spring. … Hollins wore his championship ring won when he played for Portland. He said someone else found it and brought it to the game, so he wore it. … The Grizzlies had only 13 turnovers. … Del Negro said Butler will see a specialist Thursday in Los Angeles.