With their backs to the wall, the Memphis Grizzlies played the exact game they needed to play to beat the Clippers, and now find themselves one road win away from a Game 7 on their home floor, where they were 26-7 in the regular season and are now 2-1 in the playoffs.
The Grizzlies pounded the Clippers inside early and often — they jumped out to a 36-22 lead after the 1st quarter of play, and outscored Los Angeles in the paint 48-26 thanks to some stellar play from Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph, who finally got the touches they needed against the Clippers’ defense.
Defensively, Memphis was locked in, and forced 13 Clipper turnovers while only allowing 11 assisted baskets. Blake Griffin, Reggie Evans, DeAndre Jordan, and Kenyon Martin combined to score just 2o total points on Wednesday night, and 16 of those points came from Griffin. To put things bluntly, the Grizzlies are far more capable of flat-out beating the Clippers than the Clippers are of outclassing the Grizzlies, and that’s what we saw in Game 5. Memphis led by double digits almost the entire game, and while they had a late scare when their offense stalled in the fourth quarter, their defense was good enough to keep them out of serious danger and keep their season alive.
The worst news of the night for Clippers fans is that Chris Paul seems to have re-aggravated his nagging groin injury, and it clearly limited him late in Game 5. Paul was grabbing his groin every few seconds, and he wasn’t on the court to finish the game. If Paul isn’t 100% for Game 6, the Clippers are in big, big, big trouble, and could well end up doing in the series what the Grizzlies did in Game 1 — snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.