Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 5/3/12

MEMPHIS -- The Memphis Grizzlies were in their comfort zone Wednesday night.

That is, a tight, possession-to-possession game instead of a 20-plus-point lead.

The Grizzlies, forced to keep their focus throughout, scored a 105-98 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers in Game 2 of their Western Conference first-round series. The teams are tied one game apiece as they move to Los Angeles for Game 3 on Saturday afternoon.

Although Clippers point guard Chris Paul had 29 points, six assists, five steals and three rebounds, the Grizzlies battled through the barrage by going back to their strength on the inside. Memphis had a 46-38 edge in points in the paint, thanks to Rudy Gay's team-high 21 points and Zach Randolph's 15 points and eight boards.

The Grizzlies entered the fourth quarter ahead 75-69, getting 10 third-quarter points from Gay. He hit four of five shots in the period, all but one stop-and-pop jumpers in the face of defenders.

Paul, who played 40 minutes, did everything possible to keep his team within striking distance for a late-game run. He rarely killed his dribble, took and hit smart shots and constantly looked for Blake Griffin on the low post.

When Paul went to the bench for a brief rest in the first minute of the fourth quarter, Clippers guard Mo Williams gave his team an immediate lift with five consecutive points. That was Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins' cue to call timeout to get his team settled heading into the game's final 10 minutes.

From that point on, almost every time the Clippers made a slight dent in the lead, Memphis flexed its inside muscle. Also, Grizzlies point guard Mike Conley, despite having to chase Paul all over the place, had a solid floor game, finishing with 19 points and six assists.

Not even five minutes into the game, the script was set. Both the Grizzlies and the Clippers were intent of hammering the ball inside, and the team that had the most fouls to give at the end of the night would likely be the winner.

The Clippers opened with considerably more energy than they showed early in Sunday's game, when they trailed by 18 at the end of the first quarter. Memphis looked a bit stunned at the Clippers' pace out of the gate, but the Grizzlies began matching it in the final three minutes of the opening quarter when they clipped Los Angeles' lead to 26-23 at the end of the period.

By halftime, the Grizzlies had moved in front 51-47. One of the biggest reasons was that Memphis constantly attacked the basket and battled for every offensive rebound. The fact that 29 of the Grizzlies' points came from their top four frontcourt players wasn't a coincidence.

The Clippers, who shot 54.3 in the first half to compensate for getting outrebounded 20-11, hung around because of the aggressive Paul.

The All-Star guard, who entered the series with a strained groin, obviously benefitted from two days of rest after Sunday's game. Unlike Game 1, when he saved his offensive aggressiveness for the fourth quarter during the Clippers' comeback from 24 points down with eight minutes left for a 99-98 win, he had 16 first-half points in Game 2. He scored a pair of timely 3-pointers late in the second quarter just when it seemed Los Angeles was fading.

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