MEMPHIS -- Not making any plays in the final 20 seconds, the Memphis Grizzlies fell to the Los Angeles Clippers 91-87 Saturday night in FedExForum to likely lose home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs.
The Grizzlies and the Clippers are both 54-26, tied for fourth place with two games left in the regular season. But because the Clips won the season series 3-1, they would get home-court advantage in the opening round if the teams remain deadlocked.
Zach Randolph's jump hook with 23.5 seconds left cut the Clippers' lead to 88-87 before Chris Paul countered with one of two free throws for an 89-87 advantage with 18.3 seconds left to set up Memphis' final possession.
Mike Conley tried a drive to the basket but his shot was blocked out of bounds by the Clippers' DeAndre Jordan with 12.4 seconds left. Memphis called timeout to draw up one more shot.
Conley tried to pass inside to Randolph, who was hooked by Blake Griffin. Randolph barely got a hand on the ball, and the officials called a clear-path foul on the Grizzlies, giving the Clippers' Griffin two free throws with 3.8 seconds left.
He missed both, but the Clippers still had possession because of the clear-path foul. Jamal Crawford finally put away the win with two free throws with 2.2 seconds left.
Marc Gasol and Randolph had double-doubles for the Grizzlies. Gasol had 18 points and 15 rebounds, while Randolph had 16 points and 12 rebounds.
Jordan had 16 points and 12 rebounds for the Clippers. Paul had 13 points, five in the final quarter.
The Grizzlies led 73-68 after three quarters, but the Clippers flipped that in the first six minutes of the final period. Getting some fine bench play, especially from Eric Bledsoe and unexpectedly from old vet Grant Hill, Los Angeles jumped to an 86-79 lead.
But possession by possession, the Griz reeled the Clippers back in on a 7-0 run before Paul responded with a deep 3-pointer.
Both teams opened the game extremely cold. The Clippers led by as many as five points after Grizzlies center Gasol picked up two quick fouls, the second one extremely questionable. Memphis managed to reel the pace back in when it appeared the Clips might put some serious space between the teams.
The physical play escalated in the second quarter. The Griz repeatedly tried going inside to Randolph, who got continuously hammered. Gasol had a tough quarter, having three 17-footers roll in and out, and then having trouble stopping Jordan, who doubled his average with 16 points in the opening half.
In the last two minutes, the Clippers scored five points off offensive rebounds. Quincy Pondexter's corner 3-pointer sent the teams to the locker room dead even.
The Grizzlies kept trying to hammer away on the inside in the third quarter, working Gasol and Randolph in high post-low post sets, and then flipping them. Gasol went to work, scoring eight points in the period while shutting out Jordan. The Grizzlies played superb team defense in the closing two minutes.
NOTES: "I told our team to have fun," Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins said before the game. "These types of games are fun, because you're playing the best competition. It's not fun sometimes to play teams who have nothing to play for. Sometimes, they come out and play, and sometimes you don't. You want to test yourself against the best." ... The Grizzlies, who lost to the Clippers in seven games last year in a first-round playoff series, are 1-3 this year vs. the Clips. The lone win came after the Rudy Gay trade on Jan. 30. Memphis won 96-85 on March 13 in Staples Center with five players scoring in double figures for the Grizzlies. ... Many have anointed Clippers point guard Paul as the greatest in the NBA; he is averaging 17 points and 9.8 assists. But Grizzlies point guard Conley has been on a tear, scoring 20 points or more in five of his last six games. He's averaging 14.8 points and 6.1 assists, and is playing with a lot of confidence.