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Clippers get chance to show grit as series returns to L.A.

The first-round playoff series against the Grizzlies is tied at 2-2 after the Clippers lost consecutive games in Memphis by an average of 16.5 points. Game 5 is Tuesday at Staples Center.

April 28, 2013|By Broderick Turner
  • Clippers point guard Chris Paul looks to pass after he's surrounded by Grizzlies defenders (from left) Quincy Pondexter, Tayshaun Prince (21) and Marc Gasol in the second half of Game 4.
Clippers point guard Chris Paul looks to pass after he's surrounded… (Mike Brown / EPA )

Now it is time to see what sort of resolve the Clippers have.

They failed the test presented to them in Memphis in Games 3 and 4 of their Western Conference first-round playoff series, leaving the Clippers looking vulnerable against a tough-minded Grizzlies team.

The Clippers still have the opportunity to prove that they are gritty enough because Game 5 of this best-of-seven series that's tied at 2-2 is at Staples Center on Tuesday night.

"That's why you work so hard for home court," point guard Chris Paul said after Saturday's game. "Now we've got to go back to L.A."

The Clippers won the first two playoff games at home, playing with determination and passion.

But they displayed none of that in losing the two games on the road by an average of 16.5 points.

"It's a three-game series now," said guard Chauncey Billups. "Obviously two games in L.A., if it goes that far. This is what we worked so hard for most of the season.

"Every game is a different game. Obviously, we're zero-zero again. It's a three-game series. They played really well. They did what they were supposed to do at home, as we did. So we'll see what happens next game."

So much changed for both the Clippers and Grizzlies when they changed venues.

The Clippers averaged 82.5 points per game in the two losses in Memphis.

But they averaged 102.5 points per game in the two wins in Los Angeles.

In the two games in Memphis, the Clippers were outrebounded, 90-61, and outscored, 44-6, in second-chance points.

Also, in the games in Memphis, the Clippers gave up 27 offensive rebounds.

"If you rebound the ball, it's going to be a lot easier," Memphis center Marc Gasol said after Saturday's game. "We just have to keep staying aggressive on both ends and do what we do. I think the guards are doing a great job on these last two games of coming back and rebounding and helping us. We have to give them a lot of credit too."

Zach Randolph became a problem for the Clippers in Memphis, seemingly having his way.

Randolph averaged 25.5 points and 10.0 rebounds in the two wins, after averaging 13.0 points and 6.0 rebounds in the two losses.

"I think it's just getting the ball in the right spots, picking and choosing, being aggressive instead of holding and waiting for a double team to come," he said. "My teammates have been doing a great job of getting me the ball."

Gasol averaged 20 points and 10.5 points in the two games in Memphis. He averaged 16.5 points and just 4.5 rebounds in L.A.

The combination of Randolph and Gasol is considered the best big-man pair in the NBA.

"Their synergy is pretty amazing," Paul said. "Z-Bo [Randolph] on the inside and big fella Marc, that's another guard the way he passes the ball and shoots the ball.

"We've just got to run them. We've got to try to get them tired. We've got to make them a little bit more uncomfortable and play our game."

Clippers forward Blake Griffin and center DeAndre Jordan have their hands full wrestling with Gasol and Randolph.

"This series is physical, very physical," Griffin said. "Sometimes it's hard to find that physicality. It's a thin line sometimes between being physical and fouling. We need to find that line. We need to be aggressive. We need to push it and we need to not worry about getting into foul trouble. We just need to go out and play."

broderick.turner@latimes.com

Twitter: @BA_Turner

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