Memphis 105, L.A. Clippers 98 (series tied, 1-1)
Offensive Ratings: Memphis 124.1, L.A. Clippers 112.3
We now know the Grizzlies led for the game's final 29 minutes and 52 seconds. But when Chris Paul converted a four-point play with 8:06 left, giving the Clippers a 6-0 run that brought them within 83-79, Los Angeles' historic comeback in Game 1 rushed to mind.
Unlike Game 1, Memphis pulled away for a reasonably comfortable win--as much as a team can win comfortably in the Western Conference's most competitive series.
Hanging on for the victory--especially considering what the alternative would have done to their psyche--will likely provide an immeasurable boost to the Grizzlies.
Measurably, the were pretty good too.
The Grizzlies were more powerful than Los Angeles--dominating the rebounding battle on both ends of the court and the free-throw competition.
Memphis grabbed 16 of 40 available offensive rebounds (40 percent) and 21 of 25 available defensive rebounds (84 percent). Over a full season, both marks would rank No. 1 in the league. They're even more impressive considering the Clippers were an above-average rebounding team on both ends in the regular season--fourth offensively and 14th defensively .
The Grizzlies also made 31-of-39 free throws to Los Angeles' 13-of-18.
Those two factors, rebounding and free throws, helped Memphis to overcome the Clippers' blistering 63.4 effective field-goal percentage. Another factor: turnovers.
Chris Paul (29 points on 17 shots, six assists and five steals) did a lot of great things for Los Angeles, as did Blake Griffin (22 points, nine rebounds, two assists and two steals). But both Paul's five turnovers and Griffin's four set the tone on a night the Clippers (20 turnovers) rarely looked comfortable against Memphis' imposing defense.
Several Grizzlies, on the other hand, had what could be confidence-building games. Rudy Gay (21 points on 13 shots), Zach Randolph (15 points and eight rebounds), O.J. Mayo (20 points, including 10 in the fourth quarter), Mike Conley (19 points and six assists), Tony Allen (10 points and three steals) and Marreese Speights (11 points and a team-best +13) each had their moments.
Marc Gasol's 3-of-9 performance for eight points is a tad troubling, especially after the Clippers held him scoreless in the second half Sunday. But overall, the Grizzlies showed their huge collapse hadn't shaken them, and that's an important step.
The Clippers should be pleased with splitting in Memphis, earning homecourt advantage for the rest of round. But their win was somewhat fluky, and their loss was pretty convincing.
At this point in the well-played series, a 1-1 tie is probably fair. But if either team had won both games, it likely would have been the Grizzlies, and they should be pleased with that.
Dan Feldman is an author of Basketball Prospectus.
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