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It's high noon for Clippers and Grizzlies

The evenly matched series comes down to one game in Memphis, and history gives the home team the edge.

May 12, 2012|By Broderick Turner
  • Clippers power forward Blake Griffin scores inside against Grizzlies forward Quincy Pondexter during Game 6 on Friday night at Staples Center.
Clippers power forward Blake Griffin scores inside against Grizzlies… (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles…)

MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- About midway through Chris Paul's interview after the Clippers' Game 6 loss at Staples Center on Friday night, he asked what time Game 7 would be Sunday against the Memphis Grizzlies.

Paul was told that the game starts at noon, Memphis time.

"Cool," Paul said. "That way we can get in and get out."

But to go where?

Will the Clippers be going home for the summer after blowing a 3-1 lead in the series that's now tied at 3-3?

Or will the Clippers be heading to San Antonio to meet the Spurs on Tuesday night in Game 1 of the Western Conference semifinals?

"That's why you play, for those Game 7s," Paul said. "It's what everybody would love to see. We got to see what we're made of."

Paul (strained right hip flexor) and Blake Griffin (sprained left knee) will be tested again because of their injuries suffered in Game 5. Both looked limited in Game 6.

"We have a couple of more days to try and get as healthy as possible," Paul said. "It will be my second Game 7, ever. Just leave it all out there."

Only eight teams have come back from a 3-1 deficit to win a playoff series. Memphis is attempting to join the ranks. (Note: Denver was also trying to overcome a 3-1 deficit against the Lakers on Saturday night at Staples Center.)

"We got out of a big hole we dug ourselves in the beginning of the series," Memphis forward Rudy Gay said. "It feels good to get out of it. I knew it was going to be a fight. It wasn't going to be easy. I thought it would maybe come down to this because we're so evenly matched."

There have been 107 Game 7s, with the home team owning a 86-21 record in those games, a winning percentage of 80.4%. (Denver was trying to win a Game 7 Saturday night in Los Angeles against the Lakers.)

The Orlando Magic was the last team to win a Game 7 on the road, defeating the Celtics in Boston in the 2009 Eastern Conference semifinals.

"We go there as one unit," Paul said. "It's going to be us 15 — our team, training staff, coaches, media. It's just going to be us in Memphis."

The Clippers are quick to say they have to rebound better.

They have been outrebounded in the last five consecutive games, and 255-213 overall. More maddening, the Clippers have allowed the Grizzlies to average 13.6 offensive rebounds a game.

Then there has been the play of Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph in the last two games.

Gasol is averaging 23 points on 56.6% shooting. He's also averaging eight rebounds and 3.5 assists in the two Memphis victories.

"I think he raised his level of play," Memphis guard Mike Conley said of Gasol.

Randolph has averaged 18.5 points, on 50% shooting, and 13 rebounds in the last two games.

"I think that's big for us," Conley said.

There have been 30 technical fouls in the series, 23 assessed against the Clippers, five in Game 5. That means the Clippers have to keep their poise to give themselves a chance to advance to the second round for the first time since 2006, which also was the last time they were in the playoffs.

"That just shows a lot of heart that they have and it shows a lot of heart that we have," Reggie Evans said. "So now it's just back to square one for both teams. I was hoping we would have been able to win. But unfortunately, I guess a lot of people are going to miss church this Sunday to come watch us play."

broderick.turner@latimes.com

twitter.com/BA_Turner

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