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Clippers take a painful 92-80 loss to Grizzlies

Memphis cuts the series margin to 3-2, while Chris Paul and Blake Griffin get banged up.

May 09, 2012|By Broderick Turner

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The injuries to Blake Griffin (sprained left knee) and Chris Paul (strained right hip flexor and jammed middle finger) only compounded a game the Clippers lost.

They lacked composure, which showed in their getting hit with five individual technical fouls.

They lost the momentum they gained by winning two games at home.

Now the Clippers limp home after a 92-80 defeat to the Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday night in Game 5 of the Western Conference first-round playoff series. L.A. still leads, 3-2.

Game 6 is Friday at Staples Center, and Griffin said he will get an MRI on his knee Thursday when the Clippers return home to Los Angeles.

Griffin went down with 1:31 left in the third quarter after a hard foul by Marc Gasol. The entire Clippers team went over to look at their fallen star, helping Griffin limp back to the huddle with his left knee in pain.

He said initially thought the injury was "pretty serious."

"I never felt that before," Griffin said. "The pain scares you the most — not because it hurts but because you don't know what's wrong with it."

Griffin came back out and shot his two free throws, making one. He finished with 15 points and 11 rebounds in 39 minutes.

"It was a weird play," Griffin said. "I rolled my ankle on one foot and then my foot got caught under me when I came down. It was kind of scary until you know exactly what it is. I wouldn't say it's super painful."

Paul jammed his right middle finger in the first quarter and added the hip flexor injury in the fourth quarter, going to the bench with 5:16 left in game and the Clippers down by eight points.

However, Paul returned with 3:49 left in the game, moving gingerly.

But with 1:25 left and Clippers down by eight, Paul listened to team trainer Jasen Powell and called it a night.

"I'll be OK by Friday," said Paul, who finished with 14 of his 19 points in the second half. "I just felt a little sharp pain in my leg. I'll be all right."

If the Clippers can't finish off Memphis on Friday, Game 7 will be back here Sunday afternoon. If they win Friday, they will play Game 1 against San Antonio on Sunday.

"See you Sunday," the fans chanted to the Clippers.

The Clippers, who were down by as much as 24 points in the fourth before getting as close as six in the fourth, hurt themselves.

They had back-to-back technical fouls issued to Paul and Caron Butler with 4:18 left in the third quarter, both called by referee Gary Zielinski.

They were hit with back-to-back technicals on Mo Williams and Clippers Coach Vinny Del Negro, both with 3:02 left in the third, both called by Bill Spooner.

Eric Bledsoe also was given a technical foul in the second quarter.

The Grizzlies were called for one technical, on Gasol.

"I blame myself for that little spurt where we got all them techs," Paul said. "You get five techs. We got a little excited. We felt like a few things didn't go our way. But we've got to control ourselves better."

Memphis pounded the ball inside to Zach Randolph and Gasol all game long.

Gasol had his best game since Game 1, scoring 23 points, grabbing seven rebounds and handing out four assists.

Randolph had 19 points and 10 rebounds.

Williams had 20 points for the Clippers, but they still came up short.

"A couple of things didn't go our way, but we kept fighting," Del Negro said. "I give the guys credit. We know what we have to do. We have to get home, get some therapy and get some rest and we get back to work on Friday."

broderick.turner@latimes.com

twitter.com/BA_Turner

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