NBA Playoffs 2013: Memphis' defense impresses in Game 5, sets tone for remainder of series

Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sport

Defense propelled the Grizzlies to a critical Game 5 win on the road at Staples Center, and it took an entire team effort to mitigate the usually-deep Clippers squad.

The Memphis Grizzlies took a stranglehold against the Los Angeles Clippers with a Game 5 win made possible by playing lock-down defense and neutralizing one of the game's most-dynamic playmakers, Chris Paul.

For more on this story, visit Grizzly Bear Blues

How they managed to do it is of greater interest, however, as the Clippers are normally a dynamic team on the offensive end of the floor, especially at home.

Marc Gasol was in true NBA Defensive Player of the Year form throughout the night as he and Zach Randolph dominated the inside and made things difficult for the Clips inside. Making matters worse for Los Angeles was the fact that All-Star forward Blake Griffin was missing late in the game after apparently aggravating a high ankle sprain suffered in practice earlier in the week.

Even with Gasol blocking two shots and changing numerous others, it's the team defensive stats that tell the story for the Grizzlies' signature win. They blocked a total of seven shots, grabbed 14 offensive rebounds that resulted in a whopping 19 second-chance points. The only thing they didn't do particularly well from a team standpoint was stopping the speedy Clippers squad in transition by allowing 18 fast break points.

Memphis recognizes that even with Gasol, it still takes a total effort.

"We play hard, we play together," said Randolph following the game. "We play our team concept. Guys just stay in their role."

That balance was clear on both ends of the floor as defense gave way to more possessions and an efficient offense for the Grizzlies, who scored 46 points in the paint and turned the ball over just seven times.

"Defense cannot be only two or three guys," Gasol added. "All five are engaged. It's not just Q [Quincy Poindexter] or Mike [Conley] or me. Everybody who comes into the game has that mindset."

That mindset -- one of rotating, communicating and keying in on superstars like Chris Paul served them well in Game 5, and the trend should continue in Game 6 on Friday.

"We have to treat it like another game like tonight," Randolph said.

(Postgame quotes via NBA.com's live press conference stream.)

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