MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — The Los Angeles Clippers are much more subdued this time around after their latest game in Tennessee.
When the Clippers left the FedExForum late in the season with a road victory against the Grizzlies, the music blared with singing and an air of celebration as the Clippers solidified their hold on home-court advantage in the playoffs.
The Clippers' locker room was much quieter Thursday night after their nine-game winning streak ended with a 94-82 loss in which the Grizzlies employed the game plan Los Angeles used so well in taking the first two games of this first-round series in California. Game 4 is Saturday.
The Grizzlies did everything they couldn't in dropping the opener 112-91 and Game 2 93-91 on a last-second shot.
"The 50-50 balls tonight, they were able to come up with, the hustle plays," Clippers reserve guard Jamal Crawford said. "We had a couple of pretty good stretches, but mainly they were the aggressors."
The Clippers, who had dominated the boards 87-61 in the first two games, saw the roles reversed Thursday night. Memphis outrebounded the Clippers 45-33, including a 17-5 advantage on the offensive glass. That contributed to Memphis outscoring Los Angeles 22-4 in second-chance points.
"They came out very aggressive, you know," said Chris Paul, who was held to eight points on 4-of-11 shooting. "A lot of credit goes to their team. They played hard and they rebounded."
Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro added: "The rebounding was obviously the big factor, no question about it."
Blake Griffin led the Clippers with 16 points, while Matt Barnes had 12 off the bench. Chauncey Billups scored 11 points, and Caron Butler and Crawford added 10 apiece.
The Grizzlies' rebounding combined with foul trouble stymied the Clippers, and that contributed to Memphis converting 28 of 38 free throws.
"It's a tough line to walk, but you kind of get a feel for it by the first quarter or after a couple of possessions," Griffin said of the foul calls. "For some reason, it has been somewhat difficult to walk that line. There were a lot of double fouls. There were a lot of fouls down low.
"We just have to keep pushing for it, keep playing hard and try to stay out of foul trouble as best we can, but still play a physical game."
The Clippers had beaten the Grizzlies three straight in Memphis, including a Game 7 win in the first round a year ago. They also had won six of the last seven in the series overall coming into this game.
"We just played better," Memphis coach Lionel Hollins said.
Zach Randolph scored 27 points and grabbed 11 rebounds after being limited both on the boards and by foul trouble in Los Angeles to start this series.
"I definitely wanted to come out and be aggressive," Randolph said. "They've been double-teaming, triple-teaming me. So just go fast, you know hit a couple jump shots and open it up. Most definitely, I wanted to come out and be aggressive."