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Grizzlies knock out Clippers

The SportsXchange

MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- The Memphis Grizzlies picked a perfect time to win four consecutive playoff games for the first time in the 18-year history of the franchise.

They fought off a late Clippers rally in the most no-holds-barred, physical game of their Western Conference first-round series, finishing off a 118-105 victory to clinch the series 4-2 in a rockin' FedExForum on Friday night.

It was a true team victory for the Grizzlies, with seven players scoring in double figures led by 23 points each from Zach Randolph and Mike Conley. Matt Barnes scored a game-high 30 points for the Clippers, who also got 28 points from Chris Paul.

In advancing to the second round of the playoffs against Oklahoma City, just as the Grizzlies did two years ago, they became the first team in NBA history to rally from an 0-2 series deficit and win four straight games by double-digit margins.

"I never had desperate thoughts being down 0-2, knowing we had to come home," Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins said. "I think our guys rose up and showed the discipline they showed all year. They executed. They defended."

Game 6 was tightly officiated and the Grizzlies established a a 15-point lead midway through the third quarter after leading 58-53 at the half.

That's when the emotions and physical play began getting out of hand early. The officiating crew finished the night whistling seven technical fouls, most of them by lead official Joey Crawford.

The Grizzlies were leading by 14 points with 2:29 left when Paul was tossed for receiving his second technical foul.

It seemed as if Paul knew the game was over and just didn't feel like sticking around to shake the hands of any Grizzlies.

"We had our smallest guys in the game, and Chauncey (Billups) asked me to go down and help box on Marc Gasol (during two Tayshaun Prince free throw attempts)," said Paul, who becomes a free agent in July. "I went to Matt (Barnes) and the next thing you know I'm in the locker room."

The Clippers were admittedly handcuffed by not having a healthy Blake Griffin, who sustained a high ankle sprain in practice on Monday before Tuesday's game 5 loss in Los Angeles.

Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro started Lamar Odom in place of Griffin and then tried to play Griffin for different stretches. Griffin had nine points and three rebounds in 14 minutes, but it was like he wasn't even there.

"His ankle looked like a grapefruit," Del Negro said of Griffin. "I knew he could only play in four and five-minute stretches. He tried to battle through it the best he could. I give him a lot of credit for trying. A lot of guys wouldn't have tried."

The Clippers tried to compensate for Griffin's ineffectiveness by going with smaller lineups, led by Barnes. They doubled Randolph and Marc Gasol (10 points, seven rebounds), but the Grizzlies got offense from unexpected sources like guard Tony Allen.

Allen, an All-NBA defensive team selection, had 19 points, seven rebounds, six assists and four steals. He repeatedly swooped out of nowhere to grab offensive rebounds, resulting in stickback baskets, drawing fouls and extending possessions.

"We knew they would come at us firing, but we matched their intensity from beginning to end," Allen said, "We wanted to stay aggressive, and pound it inside to Marc and Zach. That's grind basketball."

NOTES: Paul said he'll consult his family before making his next career move. "I might even let little Chris (his son) chime in," he said. ... Since the start of the regular season, Memphis is 25-1 when scoring 100 or more points and 18-1 when shooting 50 percent or better. The Grizzlies rang up 118 points on 50.7 percent shooting in Game 6. ... Allen's 19 points was a postseason career high. ... Griffin said he pleaded with team trainers to let him play Friday. "I felt like I could go, and one we were on the same page I told them to use me however you want," Griffin said. "I just wanted to play. I just wanted to help."
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