Ever since trading away leading scorer Rudy Gay in February, the Memphis Grizzlies have been a team that lives and dies by its star big men. On Saturday, that formula worked to perfection as they hustled and muscled their way to a 104-83 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers in Game 4 of their first-round series.
Usually an adventure on offense, the Grizzlies played quite well on that end Saturday, particularly in the post. Each of the team's core players — Randolph, Gasol, and Mike Conley — contributed big numbers as the Grizzlies dominated the fourth quarter, 33-16, in front of a raucous crowd.
Heading back to L.A. for Game 5, the series is now tied 2-2.
Memphis came out strong in front of their own fans, expanding its lead to as many as 12 points in the first quarter before letting the Clippers crawl back into things. Hot shooting from the field powered the early effort, as Memphis made 54 percent of its attempts in the first quarter to hold a 33-25 advantage.
Chris Paul's expert orchestration of the Clippers offense in the first half prevented Memphis from turning the game into an early rout. Even with the Grizzlies knocking down shots and dominated the boards, Paul played a borderline mistake-free 18 minutes to rally his team to a 47-46 lead at halftime.
Coming off one of his worst games of the season, the Clippers' star guard finished Saturday with 19 points, six assists and two rebounds. His efficiency was off the charts, as he knocked down seven of his 13 shots from the field and committed just one turnover.
With Paul manning the helm, the Clippers didn't commit their first turnover until minutes before the end of the first half. Considering how Memphis dominated the boards throughout the game, L.A. needed every extra possession it could get.
Continuing what looks to be a general theme in the series, the Clippers just couldn't handle the Grizzlies' physicality throughout the game. Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan and the Clippers' other bigs got crushed on the boards, 45-28, as Memphis just found its spots on the court faster than L.A. In Game 3, the Grizzlies held a 45-33 advantage on the boards.
Griffin still finished the game with solid numbers -- 19 points (7-of-13 shooting) and 10 rebounds -- but he was once again clearly outplayed by Randolph.
Following up his vintage performance in Game 3, Randolph was fantastic Saturday for the second straight game. Facing the younger, more athletic Griffin, Z-Bo finished with 24 points and nine rebounds. Beyond his five turnovers, it was another stellar performance for the veteran big man.
Including Randolph's four offensive rebounds, Memphis held a 13-5 advantage in that category.
Gasol was also a major factor for the Grizzlies, providing his usual excellence on the defensive end in addition to being an essential focal point in the offense. The 2013 Defensive Player of the Year finished the game with 24 points, 13 rebounds, four assists and three blocks, his impact felt throughout the game.
Jamal Crawford was the only other Clipper to score in double digits with 12 points on 4-of-11 shooting from the field. Conley finished with 15 points and 13 assists to supplement the star-worthy efforts of his Memphis teammates.
Game 5 is scheduled for next Tuesday at 10:30 p.m. ET. Game 6 will be held three days later.