For the Memphis Grizzlies, this season has been about turning away from offensive individual strengths and basing their entire philosophy on one of the best defenses in the NBA. In order to get out of the hole they’re in right now, they needed someone to finally step up, and Zach Randolph, who is capable of putting up big numbers when given the chance and the balls, stepped up in what might a defining moment in this series.
Because after watching the Clippers deal quite comfortable with everything they threw at them, mostly thanks to having Chris Paul make all of the difference, the Grizzlies enjoyed a bad night from the best point guard in the league, while Randolph had his best game in quite a while, also allowing Marc Gasol to play the pivot role he performs so well. Randolph finished with 27 points and 11 rebounds, taking the game to Blake Griffin often and early, running all over the high flying power forward, en route to a 94-82 win.
Marc Gasol added 16 points and 8 rebounds while Mike Conley managed to make up for his awful shooting (1-9 from the field) by adding 10 assists and grabbing 6 rebounds. More importantly than the individual additions to Randolph’s great game was winning in where it’s important for the Grizzlies – offensive rebounds and making the most off turnovers.
The Grizzlies grabbed 17 offensive boards (22-4 edge in second-chance points), making their 38.8% from the field mean much less than the very similar shooting efficiency from the Los Angeles Clippers. Forcing 18 turnovers and scoring 17 points off of them was the icing on the cake, as ruining the game from Chris Paul by attacking the pick n roll much better than in the first couple of games destroyed any chance the Clippers had of coming away with the road win.
Paul finished with only 8 points (4-11 from the field), turning the ball over 5 times. After scoring on nearly every pick n roll during the first two games, he was only 3-6, turning the ball over 4 times during his game 3 attempts to make something happen from that situation. Conley, Prince, Randolph and Gasol did a much better job than in the first two games handling the screen and penetration.
We didn’t make any adjustments. We just played better.
Getting some help from the bench, this time in the shape of Quincy Poindexter (scoring 13 points) was quite welcome for the Grizzlies, who are wound up in a very aggressive battle with the Clippers. While in the first couple of games the Clippers were the superior team physically, double and triple teaming Randolph, forcing the game away from him, the change in approach and aggression level certainly made the difference Memphis, on the brink of letting the series slip away beyond any possible reach.
And it’s going to be a matter of answering back with power for LA. Yes, there are the adjustments – slipping a little bit away from Pick n rolls, and setting screens away from the ball instead of looking for Paul to make everything happen, but this series will be decided eventually on rebounding and not turning the ball over. For now, it seems like Memphis have finally found a way to match the Clippers in these.