Eric Bledsoe of the Clippers battles Marreese Speights for the ball. (Danny Johnston / Associated…)
Chris Paul couldn't bring them back, Blake Griffin couldn't bring them back and there weren't any other Clippers stepping forward when it mattered Wednesday night in Game 2 of their Western Conference playoff series at Memphis.
Despite shooting 57% for the game, the Clippers lost, 105-98. They were outrebounded by 37-28 (16-4 on the offensive end) and turned the ball over 20 times. The series is tied at one game apiece. Game 3 is Saturday afternoon at Staples Center.
Paul led the Clippers with 29 points, but he couldn't lead a successful comeback in the fourth quarter as he has so many times this season. Griffin finished with 22 points.
Memphis had a balanced attack with six players in double figures, led by Rudy Gay with 21 points andO.J. Mayo with 20.
The question before the game was whether the Clippers would be energized by their 27-point comeback to win Game 1 ... or would suffer a debilitating hangover from that intoxicating victory. They started much stronger than they did in the opener.
They held a 26-23 lead after the first quarter, when they shot 65%. But in the second quarter, they stopped moving the ball on offense, played one-on-one ineffectively and ended up putting up desperation shots simply to beat the shot clock.
Memphis went on a 7-0 run to take a 44-37 lead in the second quarter and held a 51-47 lead at the half. The Clippers stayed in the game because they shot 54% in the half, but considering they were outrebounded, 11-2, on the offensive boards before halftime, it could have been much worse.
Bobby Simmons started at small forward in place of injured Caron Butler and made his first shot, a 12-footer from the right side. But he was largely invisible after that, finishing the half with those two points and no rebounds. Simmons was the Clippers' offense in the closing minutes, with three more baskets, but that wasn't nearly enough.
The Clippers' problems continued in the third quarter, with eight turnovers in the first four minutes of the period, and they trailed, 75-69, entering the fourth. They were still shooting 57% to Memphis' 49%, but were being outrebounded 27-17, and 13-2 on the offensive end, and had 15 turnovers. The Clippers were playing two on five, with only Paul and Griffin contributing.
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