Blake Griffin was engaged in a heavyweight fight with Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph, and he struggled to score with his usual brand of brute force on the block. In the second half, Griffin started to figure it out and used quick, decisive moves to free himself from the grasp of the Grizzlies’ defenders. But on the defensive end and the glass, Griffin looked helpless.
Chris Paul’s jumper was true all night, but his usual control of the game and smart decision-making fell by the wayside in a more franticly paced game against the Grizzlies’ aggressive defense. Chalk this up as an uncharacteristic performance by Paul — when’s the last time he turned it over five times and failed to beat the shot clock at the end of three consecutive quarters?
In typical Memphis fashion, this game was decided by the little things. The Clippers’ defense looked great early on in large part because DeAndre Jordan was glued to Marc Gasol, completely shutting off his production in the high post. Jordan was the best defensive rebounder the Clippers had, the best shot blocker, and the best rebounder. He deserved more minutes than he received.
You’d expect the more athletic team to be the naturally superior rebounders, but the Grizzlies won the position battle and punished the Clippers for not boxing out. The defeat in the position battle led to the loss of the possession war: the grinding of the Grizzlies led to 16 offensive rebounds and 20 forced turnovers. That’s a hole too big — even for the Clippers — to come back from.
This was quintessential Grizzlies basketball. It wasn’t pretty, but the Grizzlies overpowered the Clippers in the paint and on the boards. The Clippers will win a shooting contest every time between these two teams, but when the game gets physical, the edge obviously belongs to the Grizzlies. If Sunday night is any indication, this series looks like it could go the distance.