Memphis, TN – Chris Paul set the pace with 19 points, nine rebounds and four assists, and the LA Clippers ousted the Memphis Grizzlies, 82-72, in an intensely physical Western Conference quarterfinal Game 7 on Sunday.
It was the first Game 7 victory, and just the third playoff series win, in the franchise's 42-year history.
The Clippers' reserves were critical down the stretch, posting all but two of the team's 27 fourth quarter points. Kenyon Martin, Mo Williams and Nick Young combined to finish with 33 points and 12 rebounds off the bench.
"It was a total team effort. But that's the way we've been playing all season," Martin said.
Los Angeles also outrebounded Memphis, 46-44, after recording a minus-16 rebounding differential in its Game 6 defeat.
Rudy Gay and Marc Gasol scored 19 points apiece, but Mike Conley shot just 2- of-13 from the floor and the Grizzlies managed a dismal 25-of-77 mark, including missing all 13 of their three-point attempts.
The Clippers advance to face the top-seeded Spurs in the Western Conference semifinals beginning on Tuesday night in San Antonio.
LA entered the fourth trailing by one, but Martin and Young scored the frame's first five points. Martin's tip-in pushed the edge to eight and Williams' lone trey of the contest at the 7:04 mark capped off the 16-5 rally.
Gasol answered with a pair of free-throws and a fadeaway jumper to make it a six-point game once more.
But Young knocked down a pair at the line, and despite the Grizzlies trimming their deficit to six three more times, Los Angeles always seemed to have an answer.
"They hit shots in a hurry. They made plays off of our turnovers. They just converted," Gay said.
Memphis' best chance to get closer came with a little under two minutes remaining, when, down 75-69, O.J. Mayo forced a turnover from Paul at the point and raced down the court for a layup attempt.
But the try rimmed out, and no Grizzlies followed Mayo to attempt to get an offensive rebound.
The Clippers -- who had a historically bad free-throw percentage in Game 3 -- knocked down 6-of-6 in the final minute to seal the victory.
"We had the same lead around the same time in the fourth quarter [of Game 6] and we just let it slip away. And today we did all the right things towards the end," said Young.
Earlier, an 11-2 run midway through the second quarter gave the Clippers a 10- point lead, but Memphis finished the half on a 15-6 spurt and trailed by just one, 39-38, at intermission.
The other postseason wins in Clippers' franchise history were over Denver in 2006, and a best-of-three win over Philadelphia in 1976, as the Buffalo Braves...LA is now 1-2 in Game 7s all-time...Memphis, which lost to Oklahoma City in seven games last season, is 0-2 in Game 7s...It was the first time in franchise history that the Grizzlies hosted a Game 7...Memphis' Tony Allen fouled out with 1:47 to play...The Grizzlies have won just one playoff series in their history, last season's quarterfinal upset over San Antonio...This was the first postseason meeting between these clubs.