Los Angeles, CA – Chris Paul directed the offense to the tune of 23 points and seven assists, and the Los Angeles Clippers dominated on the glass to beat the Memphis Grizzlies, 112-91, in the opener of their Western Conference quarterfinal series.
Eric Bledsoe scored 13 of his 15 points in the final quarter when the Clippers went 15-of-22 from the field and held a 37-22 scoring advantage.
The Clippers placed seven players in double figures, including Chauncey Billups with 14 in the rematch of this first-round series from a year ago. The Clippers topped Memphis in seven games in 2012.
"We stayed consistent the whole game," Billups said.
The team known as "Lob City" for having two of the three top players in dunks for the season, the Clippers had just one jam all night, that from DeAndre Jordan in the fourth quarter. Yet, the Clippers managed to pull away down the stretch.
Jerryd Bayless had 19 points off the bench for the Grizzlies, who also received 16 points and seven assists from Marc Gasol. Memphis was beaten on the glass, 47-23.
"We need to do a better job of rebounding," Bayless said. "We had a shot tonight, but it was the little things that killed us."
Game 2 of this best-of-seven set is Monday, again at Staples Center.
"We got beat at our own game. They got second-chance points," Gasol said. "They did a good job of moving the ball. I'm worried about us. We have to play better. We have to attack the boards."
The Pacific Division champion Clippers, seeded fourth, were ahead only a point after Keyon Dooling nailed a 3-point shot for a 77-76 margin with 10:11 remaining.
Bledsoe, though, drove in for a layup to start a 7-0 run. Another layup, off an assist from Paul, widened the gap to 92-79 with 4:15 to go.
Gasol made a pair from the charity stripe for a 97-87 difference with 3:14 left, but LA salted away the victory by netting the next nine points. That included a 3-ball from Paul from the top of the arc.
The Clippers, who had a combined 381 dunks from Blake Griffin (202) and Jordan (179), first and third-most in the league, had their only jam midway through the fourth quarter. That's when Jordan delivered a one-handed flush driving from the right baseline.
Memphis, which never led, fell behind 29-21 after the first quarter. The Grizzlies got as close as two in the second, but LA scored the final four of the half, including a tip-in from Matt Barnes in the closing second for a 57-51 halftime edge. It was 75-69 going to the fourth.
"I was proud of the way we executed our game plan," Griffin said. "We controlled the boards and didn't allow them second-chance points."
Griffin had 10 points and five boards before fouling out ... Caron Butler and Jamal Crawford each scored 13, while Barnes had 10 ... Zach Randolph had 13 points and Mike Conley scored 12 for Memphis, which committed only seven turnovers, six less than the Clippers. Randolph led the NBA in total offensive rebounds with 310, but was held to none Saturday. The Grizzlies had only four offensive boards compared to 14 for LA.