If Game 3 was arguably one of the worst games of the Clippers’ season, then Game 4 was definitely the worst. The Clippers were blown out, 104-83, and it really felt as if the Grizzlies should have won by more. Worst of all, the Clippers didn’t steal a game in Memphis and the series is tied 2-2. Marc Gasol, who had shot just 41 percent through the first three games, showed why he’s probably the best center in basketball, breaking out for 24 points (9-of-14 shooting), 13 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 blocks.
Zach Randolph also provided a sturdy 24 points and 9 rebounds, and the Grizzlies had six players in double-figures. They controlled the glass for the second straight game (45 to 28), dominated the paint (22-2 in second-chance points), and were overall more efficient (50.6 percent shooting to 41.0 percent shooting). Besides Blake Griffin and Chris Paul’s 19 points apiece, the rest of the Clippers’ starters combined for only 2 points.
It was an all-around poor outing. The series now moves back to L.A. for Game 5, which will decide whether the Clippers go back to Memphis with hopes of closing out the series, or whether they’re fighting for their season. Onto Last Call:
Recap | Box score
Los Angeles Clippers
MVP: Marc Gasol. Rare is the big man who eats space and creates it. Gasol lived up to his Defensive Player of the Year moniker by protecting the rim on one end and using his gorgeous jumper and interior passing on the other to completely flummox the Clippers.
X Factor: 3-point shooting. If the Clippers are making the same amount of 3-pointers as the Grizzlies, something has gone horribly wrong. The Clippers had decent looks but shot just 4-for-21 from behind the arc and got essentially no scoring production from their wings.
Well that was… persistence personified. The Grizzlies have found something with Zach Randolph on the block, and the Clippers have failed to take it away. The starting frontcourt of the Grizzlies outscored the Clippers 63-21 in a truly dominant performance.
- D.J. Foster
Tweet(s) of the Game
This is the Grizzlies’ version of Game 1 for the Clips: Leverage your strengths for three quarters and eventually the dam will burst.
— Kevin Arnovitz (@kevinarnovitz) April 27, 2013
Caron Butler and Chauncey Billups in Game 4: 0 points or assists, 0-10 shooting in 33 minutes.
— Jonathan Tjarks (@JonathanTjarks) April 27, 2013
Eric Bledsoe Per 36 Stat O’ The Night
JT & The Tennessee Kids
— Justin Timberlake(@jtimberlake) April 26, 2013
(From Game 3′s win, but had to post it.)
ClipperBlog Live’s Best Moment
Zach Harper (@talkhoops) of CBSSports.com joins the crew as they break down Game 4. He even did his hair and everything.
Check Your Messages
That Was Offensive
Memphis annihilated the Clippers on the glass this afternoon, pulling down 45 rebounds to the Clippers’ 28. That the Grizzlies also nabbed 13 offensive rebounds (to the Clippers’ 5) was especially debilitating. We knew the chances of the Clippers winning the hustle battle were slim to begin with, but this showing made game one’s Clipper-dominated 43-27 line look like a bookkeeping error. Positioning, effort, long bounces: every 50-50 ball seemed to go the Grizzlies’ way, with Gasol and Randolph combining for 22 boards. The Clippers need to make rebounding a top priority on Tuesday, or they’ll find themselves in a 3-2 whole with a night at the Grind House looming.
- Patrick James
The Minutes Log
We heard all year how fresh Blake Griffin and Chris Paul will be for the postseason.
Griffin is playing only 32.5 minutes per game. He’ll be ready for that minutes boost come playoff time.
But here’s the unexpected hole in that theory: Griffin isn’t getting anymore playing time in the playoffs. In fact, Blake’s minutes have gone down. In the first four games against the Grizzlies, he’s averaging 31 minutes a night and hasn’t played more than 34 minutes in any given contest. Seemingly every other star player in the league sees an increase in playing time in the playoffs, but it’s not happening with Griffin. If great players can swing a series, then 31 minutes a night can’t cut it for one of the 15 best players in the NBA.
- Fred Katz
Speed and Control
The Grizzlies know what they want the last two games, and that’s a wing entry to Zach Randolph on the block. If the defender fronts Randolph, Marc Gasol enters the equation as a supremely capable high-post passer. If the sealed high-low entry isn’t there, Randolph reposts, and eventually gets the ball.
That’s it. That’s what Memphis wants, and they go through a series of actions to get that result. When the shotclock ticks down, either Randolph has the ball in a position to attack, or Marc Gasol has a clean look at a jumper. It’s simple, but the size and strength of the Grizzlies frontcourt allows simplicity to work.
When the Clippers were rolling as an offense, the actions were also simple, but it was sped up simplicity. The screens from the big men were flipped in an instant, the ball peppered around the perimeter, there were transition opportunities, and the off-ball movement served a purpose. But again tonight, there was a troubling trend of the initial pick and roll being stifled, and then a non-creator getting stuck with a ticking time bomb late in the shot clock. That might work when the perimeter players are hitting, but a 4-for-21 outing from behind the arc clearly shows that they weren’t.
Increases in speed come at the cost of control. The Grizzlies aren’t being sped up right now. They’re set defensively, and they’re running the same set offensively. If the Clippers want to loosen the control Memphis has had in the last two games, the best course of action is to turn up the speed.
- D.J. Foster
In the post-game presser, Lionel Hollins made a comment about adjusting a substitution pattern from one of the games in Los Angeles. Hollins had sat Gasol in L.A. at the start of the fourth quarter and the Clippers promptly burst the game open with an 18-5 run. The game was already out of hand before Hollins could bring his key big man back.
After that experience, Hollins said he intentionally started Gasol in the fourth quarter of Game 4, still just a four point game. Memphis went on a 19-5 run and built an insurmountable cushion before Los Angeles could return their key players to the game.
What will the next adjustment be?
- Andrew Han
Marc Gasol, On The Level
Gasol was quiet in the first half, which prompted coach Lionel Hollins to challenge him at halftime to score more. Tony Allen characterized Hollins’ address as a chewing out, though Gasol was demure about the details. Whatever the tone or substance of the halftime appeal, Gasol dominated the second half with 18 points on 7-for-9 shooting. The bounty including two buzzer-beaters — one on an inbounds play with 0.6 seconds left on the shot clock (“We run it pretty much every time the shot clock is down like that,” Gasol said.), the other a step-back jumper over Ronny Turiaf to beat the third-quarter horn. Gasol finished the game with 24 points, 13 rebounds and four assists.
“He’s trouble,” Randolph said of Gasol — and Randolph is well-versed on the topic. “Seven feet tall doing what he’s doing. He’s a playmaker, one of the best bigs passing the ball. Shoot it. Posting up. Make plays. It’s harder to defend a guy like that, especially nowadays — there aren’t too many centers in the game like him. That’s why I think he’s the best center in the game because of the things he does and his skill set.”
Nobody in the Memphis camp found the halftime message to Gasol to be an interesting storyline (well, maybe Tony Allen, but he’s easily and delightfully intrigued). Hollins is a salty motivator and Gasol is one of those players whose range of skills is so diverse, he sometimes needs help finding the balance between scoring and playmaking, between aggressiveness and deference, between the high post and low post, between power and finesse and between creating space or filling it.
“We had Zach going in the first half, so we played through Zach,” Gasol said. “It doesn’t matter who scores. At the end of the day what matters is that we win.”
- Kevin Arnovitz at ESPN