Grizzlies-Clippers Preview

The Associated Press

The Los Angeles Clippers won their first division title last season, but further celebrations ended immediately at the hands of the Memphis Grizzlies.

The high-scoring Clippers have a chance to exact a measure of revenge Monday night when they face the Grizzlies for the first time since being ousted in the opening round of the playoffs.

Los Angeles (7-3) set a franchise record with 56 wins and eased to a Pacific Division championship by nine games over second-place Golden State. The Clippers also appeared on their way to advancing in the playoffs after winning the first two games against Memphis, but went on to lose the next four.

A right ankle injury to Blake Griffin played a part in the postseason exit, while the Grizzlies reached the Western Conference finals.

The injury limited the All-Star forward to 13 total points over the last two games of the series, including nine in 13:56 off the bench in a 118-105 loss in Game 6.

Griffin continues to be a force for the Clippers, averaging a team-leading 22.9 points this season. His impact is felt beyond the scoreboard, as he's tied for fourth in the league with 10.4 rebounds per game over his first four seasons.

That's reason enough for Los Angeles to be concerned when he hurt his left ankle in Saturday's 110-103 win over Brooklyn. Griffin left the game in the third quarter, but returned 2 1/2 minutes later to finish with 30 points and 12 boards.

"I just came down normal and felt something in the back of my ankle," he said. "It scared me not knowing exactly what it was. It's better than it was but not normal. I can put full weight on it without unbearable pain."

While Griffin should be ready to face Memphis (5-5), star guard Chris Paul isn't prepared to be without him.

"I need him like none other," said Paul, who had 12 points, 13 assists - six to Griffin - and seven rebounds against the Nets.

Paul averaged 22.8 points and 6.3 assists against the Grizzlies in last season's playoffs, but he was ejected late in Game 6 for crashing into Marc Gasol on a missed free throw.

Griffin also found himself in trouble with officials, wrestling Zach Randolph to the court after a basket in Game 6 to earn the fourth double-foul of the series for the duo.

They'll likely find themselves contending under the basket again, as the Clippers attempt to improve to 6-0 at home for the first time since 2006-07.

Randolph, though, has totaled 50 points and 21 rebounds and shot 20 of 30 from the floor to help Memphis win the first two of this four-game road trip - its first back-to-back victories this season.

He scored 22 on 9-of-12 shooting in Sunday's 97-86 win at Sacramento.

"Zach is playing well right now," said guard Mike Conley, who had 19 points and nine assists against the Kings. "When he's got it going like that and is in a zone, we try to get him the ball."

That certainly was the case in the playoffs against the Clippers. Randolph averaged 24.8 points on 57.4 percent from the field over the final four games after totaling 26 points in the first two.

Randolph and Conley each had 23 points in Game 6.

This time, however, Griffin and Paul may have some help from J.J. Redick, who is averaging 18.2 points at home. He had 26 on 9 of 14 from the field - 5 of 7 from behind the arc - against the Nets.

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