By Teresa M. Walker/The Associated Press
The Grizzlies are back home in Memphis down 0-2 against the Clippers hoping the change in scenery helps them force this first-round series into a return trip to Los Angeles.
Coach Lionel Hollins is preaching that it isn’t do or die time.
“We’ve got to come here and take care of business,” Hollins said Tuesday. “We have two games at home. We almost got one out in L.A., but it wasn’t to be. We have to come home and try to win two and hold court.”
The Grizzlies rallied from 12 down in the fourth quarter Monday night and tied it up before Chris Paul scored the winning basket with a one-tenth of a second on the clock for a 93-91 win.
Game 3 is Thursday night in Memphis.
Neither team practiced Tuesday with the Grizzlies arriving back in Memphis at approximately 5 a.m. local time. The Clippers will be flying to Memphis on Wednesday after practicing in Los Angeles. The Grizzlies are eager to be back in front of their own fans.
“We expect it to be loud and crazy, and hopefully we can take care of that business at home,” Grizzlies guard Mike Conley said after turning in his postseason-best with 28 points Monday night.
The Grizzlies are very comfortable at the FedExForum where they won a franchise-record 32 games this season. Unfortunately, the Clippers have made themselves at home in Memphis as well.
The Clippers have won three straight against on the Grizzlies’ home court a stone’s throw from Beale Street, dating back to Game 7 of their first-round series a year ago. The Clippers even won pretty easily 99-73 in Memphis on Jan. 14 without Paul who missed the game with a bruised right kneecap, and they now have won six of the last seven games overall, including Game 7.
“We’ve had success in Memphis,” Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro said Tuesday. “We’re going there with the right mindset but we have to execute better than we did last night, especially on the defensive end.”
Paul said after the game the Clippers understand that they simply managed to hold serve themselves. He said they know the Grizzlies will have plenty of energy in front of their home fans needing to win two at home.
“Now we have to go down to Memphis and try to steal a game,” Paul said. “We’ve got to be greedy.”
Hollins tightened up his bench Monday night, playing Conley a game-high 44 minutes and Marc Gasol more than 43 minutes. Hollins said veteran guard Keyon Dooling, a late addition in the season for the playoffs, was sick all Monday so he decided not to play Dooling after the first rotation.
“Go with the guys who have been here longer, and that really know what we are trying to do and understand what we’re trying to do defensively and offensively,” Hollins said. “I thought it helped us in terms of us not getting really way down, and we were able to stay close and battle and give ourselves a chance.”
The Clippers’ reserves outscored their Memphis counterparts 30-11 with Jamal Crawford scoring 15. It took the Grizzlies until 4 minutes left in the third quarter to get their second bucket from the bench on a dunk by Darrell Arthur.
“It’s their whole bench,” Hollins said. “We have to play better against them. … You look in all the games that have been played so far, most of the starters are playing 39 or 40 minutes, that’s what happens in the playoffs. We just need to get production from the people who go in the game, whatever amount of minutes they get.”
The Grizzlies rebounded better than they did in Game 1, but All-Star Zach Randolph still found himself in foul trouble as he finished with just 13 points and eight rebounds. Memphis also struggled at the free throw line despite getting 12 more attempts than the Clippers. The Grizzlies missed 11, including four in the fourth quarter.
Grizzlies guard Tony Allen, who had his own playoff-high 16 points to go with 10 rebounds, said this still is a long series as long as the Grizzlies take care of business at home.
“I think it’s just about getting out there and clawing and fighting and doing the little things that help win ball games, battling for loose balls, boxing out, rebounding, not giving those guys second-chance points and just executing on offense,” Allen said after the game.
Freelance writer Clay Bailey in Memphis, Tenn., contributed to this report.