Three hits: CP3 has rough night in Game 3 loss to Grizzlies
Chris Paul was right. The playoffs don’t really begin until one team wins a game on the road.
The Clippers had an opportunity to put a lock on their best-of-seven first-round series against the Memphis Grizzlies, but their 94-82 loss at FedEx Forum in Memphis means there’s going to be a Game 5 at Staples Center.
The Clippers are still up 2-1 in the series, but they’ll need to find the energy and focus they showed in the first two games. Here are three talking points from Game 3:
1. As Chris Paul goes, so go the Clippers
The Clippers point guard was the focal point of Games 1 and 2, totaling a combined 47 points and 16 assists and hitting the game-winning shot Monday night. But he seemed lost in the crowd Thursday, making five turnovers and finishing with eight points on 4-of-11 shooting.
All four Clippers backcourt players – Paul, Chauncey Billups, Jamal Crawford and Eric Bledsoe – struggled with their shooting, missing 23 of a combined 33 shots. But Paul provides direction at both ends of the court, and when he’s not on his game, neither are his teammates.
2. It’s all about hitting the boards
The Clippers controlled the boards in the first two games, but rebounding is the Grizzlies’ strength and they showed why. They beat the Clippers on the boards 45-33 and held a 17-5 edge on the offensive end.
Memphis shot just 39 percent from the floor, but its ability to get second and third shots – especially by Zach Randolph – proved to be the critical difference.
3. Here comes Zach Randolph
The Grizzlies’ big forward was virtually missing in action in the first two games of the series, but he showed up Thursday night. Randolph scored more points in Game 3 (27) than he had in the first two games combined (26).
More important, Randolph hit the boards, pulling down a game-high 11 rebounds. In Game 1, he and center Marc Gasol had no offensive rebounds; in Game 3, Randolph had six by himself.
What does all this mean? The Clippers can forget about a sweep, but after the way the Grizzlies played Thursday, a seven-game series might not be out of the question.