Apr 30, 2013; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Memphis Grizzlies center Marc Gasol (33) tries to pass the ball away from Los Angeles Clippers center DeAndre Jordan (6) and forward Blake Griffin (32) in the first quarter of in game five of the first round of the 2013 NBA Playoffs at the Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Game 5 Recap: Clippers Fall to Grizz as Griffin Deals with Injury

NBA Playoffs 2013 Round 1, Game 5:
Memphis Grizzlies 103 – Los Angeles Clippers 93
MEM: Zach Randolph – 25 points, 11 rebounds
LAC: Chris Paul – 35 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists

Series 3-2 Memphis

One thing is for sure: Nick Young , Reggie Evans or Kenyon Martin ain’t walking through that door.

And if he did it probably wouldn’t matter. As good as Chris Paul is, he can’t defeat the Memphis Grizzlies by himself. His partner in crime Blake Griffin played almost all of 6 minutes in the second half and when he did he gave the Clippers absolutely nothing. Outside of Paul no one else gave the him any help to help combat the offense the Grizzlies came with tonight. Jamal Crawford scored 15 points, but it took him 14 shots to get there.

The first quarter things went well. The Clippers kept it at their pace constantly running the floor and despite being up 28-26 it felt like tonight was one of those nights for Los Angeles. In the second quarter the wheels began falling off the wagon. The crutch that the this team relied on in games 1 and 2, their bench, failed to make the push they usually make when the unit enters the game. And that has become a huge problem since game 2: the bench hasn’t been good. Usually when the starters play is mediocre, the likes of Eric Bledsoe, Jamal Crawford and Matt Barnes pick up where they leave off, but it hasn’t been that way. The supporting starters haven’t came up with their part of the bargain either. Caron Butler and Chauncey Billups combining for 8 points in 31 combined minutes. This isn’t a series winning combination.

Despite losing by ten, the Clippers got it close several times in the fourth quarter, but couldn’t do enough to make it tit-for-tat at the end. When Marc Gasol wasn’t hitting go-ahead shots it was Zach Randolph. When Z-Bo wasn’t hitting the go-ahead shots it was Tayshaun Prince. The Grizz starting frontcourt combined for 25 points in the final quarter which was three less points than the Clippers scored in the quarter. The make-shift lineup that Vinny Del Negro dealt out there couldn’t handle those three. It’s becoming a trend of the past four games that the Memphis frontcourt can’t be handled by Los Angeles, but with each game it’s becoming more aware. DeAndre Jordan‘s playing minimal minutes, Ronny Turiaf and Ryan Hollins aren’t capable of playing heavy minutes on a “serious contender” and Lamar Odom is entirely too small to matchup with Randolph/Gasol.

And despite missing out on a chance to sit in the drivers seat of this series, the real issue is the health of star Blake Griffin.

If Griffin isn’t 85 percent or higher by Game 6 this Clippers team may not stand a chance heading into Memphis. Offensively isn’t the issue. His presence on the floor makes things much easier for the rest of the team, but against the best forward/center in the league Griffin needs to be at his best. Of course he isn’t an all-world defender like Kevin Garnett or Larry Sanders, but him being to hold position and attack the Grizzlies on the boards matter one hundred percent. This team can’t make up for his scoring either. Chris Paul may be able to score 35 a game, but it’ll take an outlier performance from a few people on the team to make up for his overall impact.

Game 6 will be something to watch. We know Chris Paul isn’t gonna go down fighting. It’s not in his mentality. But the rest of the team is highly questionable. This isn’t the same Memphis team from last year. There’s no Rudy Gay to mess up the flow of things and Zach Randolph, obviously, is much healthier at this point. They’re going into a hostile environment that absolutely hates this team. It’ll be interesting to see how they react to the circumstances because it could be the last game they play of the season.

Tags: Blake Griffin Injury Chris Paul Game 5 Los Angeles Clippers Memphis Grizzlies NBA NBA Playoffs 2013

  • $43517978

    For anyone who didn’t already see the fools gold that is DeAndre Jordan, he has been completely exposed by Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol in this series. The Grizz big man combo has shown a wide variety of skills on offense that Jordan just doesn’t have. He has been basically useless in this series because he has no post moves, can’t shoot free throws and doesn’t play good defense. Without Blake (chances are he’s out for the rest of this series), the Clippers have no chance of stopping Memphis inside. Hollins and Turiaf are nice players, but they’re not good enough to produce for long stretches in the playoffs. The Clippers will need to start double teaming Randolph and Gasol down low, which will leave wide open 3 point shots for Prince and the guards. At Staples Center this strategy may have worked, but I fear that Memphis’ 3 point shooting will be boosted by their enthusiastic fans on Friday night.

    The Clippers’ decision not to pursue the Kevin Garnett for Bledsoe/Jordan trade was clearly a decision for the future, not for winning a championship this year. Garnett would have made the Clippers a MUCH better team against Memphis than Jordan and Bledsoe, neither of which have had a huge impact on this series. But this offseason the Clippers should be able to deal Bledsoe for a good big man, and maybe they’ll see the light and try to move Jordan as well.

    Basically, the Clippers lost the series (and their season) last night. It’s amazing to me that just a few days ago the talk was about how the Clippers had a clear path to the conference finals because of Westbrook’s injury. Now it looks like their season will end this week. Amazing, and incredibly disappointing for this franchise

    • Alfredo Rodriguez

      Unfortunately, that’s the way the cookie crumbles. Clips finally see that the path to the NBA Finals just got easier with Westbrook out, and they failed to take advantage of it. Now they’re getting eliminated in the playoffs on Friday, and Chris Paul will be forcibly traded to whoever wins the NBA Finals this season.

      If the Clippers want to be taken seriously as a true title contender, they need to understand that it’s not about getting the best of the Lakers every single meeting, winning the Pacific Division, or getting home court advantage in the playoffs. It has always been and will always be about winning the NBA Championship by any means necessary, even if you have to do it as an 8th seed. Look at the Houston Rockets and the Boston Celtics, both teams on the brink of elimination and have no legitimate chance of going to the Finals. But they are putting pressure on the Oklahoma City Thunder and New York Knicks to finish them off, and they are hesitant to do so. The Rockets and Celtics can become the first two teams in NBA history to come out of a 0-3 hole.

      Here are some other historic facts: the Boston Red Sox needed a miracle 0-3 comeback to defeat the New York Yankees in 2004, which led them to finally breaking the Curse Of The Bambino (by beating the Yankees) and winning their first World Series in 90+ years. The NHL’s L.A. Kings won their first Stanley Cup as an eighth seed by beating the top three teams in their conference and beating the New Jersey Devils in Game 6. The Clippers have the chance to be like one of those historic teams, but it seems to me they are willing to give up their only chance at a title for family and friendship. Gentlemen lose games, bad boys win titles.