L.A. clips Grizzlies to take series lead
By SPORTS NETWORK
|Grizzlies' Tony Allen avoids defensive pressure from Los Angeles Clippers' Blake Griffin during the first half of Game 3 in Los Angeles. (Danny Molosho/REUTERS)
LOS ANGELES - Chris Paul netted 24 points and dished out 11 assists as the Los Angeles Clippers edged the Memphis Grizzlies, 87-86, in a tense Western Conference quarterfinal Game 3.
Blake Griffin tallied 17 points and Randy Foye hit 4-of-5 three-point attempts, including the game-tying trey in the final minutes, en route to 16 points for Los Angeles, which took a 2-1 advantage in the best-of-seven series.
Caron Butler -- who was expected to miss 4-6 weeks after fracturing his left hand in Game 1 -- started the game, and contributed four points.
Rudy Gay finished with 24 points, Zach Randolph chipped in 17 and Marc Gasol had 11 points to go with 10 rebounds for the Grizzlies, who saw Gay's potentially game-winning jumper bounce off the rim as time expired.
Asked why his team could not pull out a win, Memphis guard Mike Conley commented, "It's always the same: the little plays. The box-outs, free-throw attempts, getting to loose balls. They all really hurt us down the stretch."
Game 4 is slated for Monday at Staples Center.
Memphis led, 71-64, entering the final stanza and held off an early five-point charge, pushing its advantage to six with 7:11 to play.
Trailing 79-73 a bit later, LA's Eric Bledsoe made a layup to open a furious 13-3 LA run.
Foye hit his triple on the left wing to tie it at 80 apiece, and then Paul knocked down a fadaway jumper, stole it from Gasol, and fed Griffin on a bounce pass underneath the basket for a two-handed flush. He hit a pair at the line to give the Clippers an 86-80 lead with 23 ticks on the clock.
"I took what the defense gave me. If they're going to give me that shot, I'm going to take it," Foye said of his uncontested basket.
But the Grizzlies did not go away, taking advantage of missed opportunities down the stretch to threaten.
Gay trimmed the deficit in half with a three, and Bledsoe was fouled. He made the first and, although he missed the second, Reggie Evans grabbed the board for the hosts.
But Evans missed both tries from the stripe, and Gay sunk another from beyond the arc to make it a one-point game.
Bledsoe was fouled again with 8.3 seconds on the clock, and this time he missed both attempts. Gilbert Arenas came down with the rebounds, giving Memphis possession for the final shot.
Gay's try was heavily contested, however, and he did not produce the game- winner.
"It was a physical game, and in the fourth quarter, we were able to get the stops," Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro said.
After leading throughout much of the first half, the Clippers took a 50-46 advantage into halftime when Griffin picked off an inbounds pass in the final seconds and threw down a resounding dunk as time expired.
Memphis outscored LA 25-14 in the third, though, as the Clippers went over four minutes without a field goal.
It was the first home playoff game for Los Angeles since 2006 ... O.J. Mayo fouled out with 8.3 seconds remaining ... Gay has led the Grizzlies in scoring during his three career playoff games (all in this series) ... Both teams committed 17 turnovers ... Los Angeles shot 47.1% (33-of-70) from the field while holding Memphis to 40% (26-of-65).