The Memphis Grizzlies took control of their best-of-seven first-round playoff series against the Clippers on Tuesday night by doing what they do best: controlling the boards, especially on the offensive end, and getting spectacular play from their big men, Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol.
Here are three talking points from the Grizzlies’ 103-93 victory at Staples Center that gave them a 3-2 lead with a chance to close out the series at home Friday night:
1. A game of rebounds
The battle of the boards was close, at least statistically, but it seemed that whenever the Grizzlies needed a big offensive rebound, they got it.
Memphis had 14 offensive rebounds and 19 second-chance points, compared to 12 and 13 for the Clippers. But Randolph was beastly under the basket again, driving easily on DeAndre Jordan and getting himself in position for rebounds.
Guard Tony Allen was also big on the glass, grabbing five offensive boards.
2. If there’s a series MVP so far, it’s Randolph
Here’s what center Marc Gasol said about Randolph: “I know offensively, Zach did an amazing job. He didn’t settle. He drove when we had to drive, he attacked the paint when had had to. He read every situation perfectly, but defensively, that’s how we won the game.”
In the past three games, Randolph has scored 27, 24 and 25 points. His rebound totals: 11, 9 and 11. He also has 15 offensive rebounds.
Gasol was right. Defense was critical to the Grizzlies’ win, but so was Randolph.
3. Tayshaun Prince: hot when the Grizzlies needed it
Prince hasn’t really had a spectacular series, but he made some big baskets in the fourth quarter Tuesday to discourage a Clippers rally.
When the Clippers got to within six points with 3:19 left, Prince scored a layup on a pass from Randolph to push Memphis’ lead to 91-83. Following a jumper by Clippers guard Jamal Crawford that closed the Grizzlies’ advantage to 91-86, Prince hit again, this time on a 3-pointer that made it an eight-point game with 1:29 to play.
Prince finished with 15 points, including seven in the fourth quarter, and made 2 of 3 from long distance.