MEMPHIS -- 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 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. Chris Paul led the Clippers with 28 points.
The emotions and physical play began getting out of hand early in the third quarter. In the game's final 2:30, lead official Joey Crawford ejected Paul and Randolph in separate instances 22 seconds apart.
The Grizzlies, after losing Game 7 to the Clippers last year in the FedExForum in a first-round series, now advance to the second round against Oklahoma City or Houston.
The Grizzlies were in attack mode from the opening tip, rarely settling for outside jumpers. Such a mindset earned Memphis the free-throw bonus just more than four minutes in the game.
Despite the Grizzlies getting the ball inside almost anytime it wanted, drawing 11 first-quarter fouls, Paul single-handedly kept the Clippers within striking distance. The fact that Conley and Marc Gasol, the Grizzlies' two best playmakers were on the bench at the end of the quarter with two fouls was not a good sign for the home team, even though Memphis led 29-26 at the end of the quarter.
The one thing the Grizzlies feared -- the Clippers 3-point shooting -- finally heated up again after being absent in the three previous playoff losses. Matt Barnes was 4-for-4 in first-half 3s, almost helping offset a huge free throw discrepancy that gave Memphis a 58-53 halftime lead.
The Grizzlies were 24-of-30 from the free-throw line in the first half, compared to the Clippers making 7 of 11 free throws. But with Conley and Gasol out, the Clippers were able to hang around against makeshift Memphis lineups.
The game's intensity rapidly accelerated in the first six minutes after halftime. The Grizzlies kept feeding Randolph and he scored some tough inside baskets, despite being physically pounded.
On one play, Conley was bear-hugged by Clippers' guard Chauncey Billups and thrown to the floor on a drive.
The Grizzlies led by as many as 15, but Gasol and Randolph picked up their fourth fouls as did Conley.
The Clippers cut the Grizzlies' lead to six, before Jerryd Bayless hit a pair of 3s to give the Grizzlies a 13-point lead heading into the last quarter.
NOTES: Clippers forward Blake Griffin was a game-time decision and did not start. He played 14 minutes and scored nine points. He sustained a high ankle sprain on Monday in practice and was removed from Tuesday's Game 5 loss because he was in pain and couldn't move well enough to be effective. At the end of Friday morning's shootaround, he stoically walked with a limp, holding an ice bag as he exited the FedExForum court. "We have to prepare like he's not going to play," Crawford said. "If he can't play, we have to make the best of the situation understanding there's no tomorrow." ... Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins was planning for Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro to start Lamar Odom, which he did. ... "Rebounding, their post play and high-low game has been the difference," Del Negro said. "It's a Catch-22 with a small lineup and you have to execute well. The bottom line is if we go small, rebounding is an issue." ... Friday night's game is the 20th time the Grizzlies and the Clippers have met in the past two seasons. The Clippers hold an 8-11 advantage, with the Grizzlies 5-4 in FedExForum. ... The Grizzlies' biggest challenge in Game 6 was not to start too jacked up. Conley said the Grizzlies learned that lesson last year against the Clippers in Game 1 of a first-round playoff series. Memphis led by 18 at the end of the first quarter, 19 at halftime and 27 late in the third quarter only to lose 99-98. "In the first game last year, we were pumped up on emotion," Conley said. "During the game, we wore ourselves out. They (the Clippers) stayed even keel the whole time and they were able to come back and win it. We have to treat this game like it is a road game and come with that same focus. We stressed over the last couple of days not to use too much emotion, try to control it. Not get too high or too low at any point in the game."