Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 1/14/13
MEMPHIS – The last time the Los Angeles Clippers were seen in the FedExForum, they broke hearts last April by winning the seventh game of a Western Conference first-round playoff series over the Memphis Grizzlies. The Griz ran out of gas in that game. On Monday, though, in the same place against the same team, the Grizzlies were merely dead on arrival in their worst home performance in at least the last two seasons. Even without injured point guard Chris Paul, the Clippers closed the first quarter on an 11-2 run, and slapped the Rudy Gay-less Griz around for the rest of a long night in a 99-73 victory. It mattered little that Paul, who bruised his right knee late in Saturday’s loss at Orlando, was limited to sitting on the Clippers’ bench in street clothes. The Clippers (29-9) torched the Grizzlies (24-12) at every position, building a 19-point halftime lead and resting starters almost all of the fourth quarter, because of a bench that outscored Memphis reserves, 54-26. Any argument that the absence of Gay, who was excused to attend his grandmother’s funeral, was a contributing reason for the lackluster performance was negated by Paul also not playing. No Paul meant a start for backup point guard Eric Bledsoe, and he produced a measured performance, with 14 points, 4 assists and kept his team in his offensive rhythm. When Bledsoe took a breather, Jamal Crawford handled the point and discovered he was often the best offensive option, scoring 16 points. The Clippers didn’t even need show-stopping games from their starters, like Blake Griffin, who only had to play 25 minutes and contributed 10 points and 6 rebounds. That’s because the Clips’ bench even outscored the Grizzlies’ starters. Forward Zach Randolph recorded his NBA-leading 25th double-double for the Grizzlies, with 15 points and 12 rebounds.But not any of the 11 Grizzlies who played shot at least 50 percent from the field. Memphis finished an icy 30.3 percent (27-of-89) from the field. The Clippers led 53-34 at the half by not doing anything particularly special except acting like they wanted to play. They moved the ball, played with purpose and rarely gave up on any play. That attitude extended all the way down the Clips’ bench, which outscored the Memphis reserves, 28-4, in the opening half.It didn’t get any better through three quarters. The Clippers’ length inside clearly bothered Randolph and Marc Gasol, who, like the rest of their teammates, missed numerous shots at point blank range. NOTES: Paul is listed day-to-day after bruising a right knee cap with 54 seconds left in Saturday’s loss at Orlando. Memphis moved starting shooting guard Tony Allen to Gay’s spot and brought Wayne Ellington off the bench to fill Allen’s starting backcourt spot. Backup point guard Wayne Bledsoe replaced Paul and Jamal Crawford also saw some play at the point. Clips’ coach Vinny Del Negro felt there was no reason for Paul to play. “It’s a long season, just want to get him (Paul) some therapy and some rest,” Del Negro said. “He’ll be a game time decision every night after this.” … Hollins said since he’s had Ellington and Allen on the floor some this season already, he felt putting Ellington in the lineup would be smoother than simply starting Darrell Arthur at small forward. … Monday’s game was the Clippers’ first visit to Memphis since winning Game 7 of a Western Conference first-round playoff series last April. The Grizzlies opened this season with a 101-92 loss at Los Angeles.
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