Paul brilliant as Clippers beat Grizzlies in playoff opener
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LOS ANGELES — Chris Paul led seven players in double figures with 23 points, Eric Bledsoe had 15 and the Los Angeles Clippers beat the Memphis Grizzlies 112-91 on Saturday while getting just one dunk in their playoff opener.
Chauncey Billups scored 14 points, and Caron Butler and Jamal Crawford had 13 apiece on a night when Blake Griffin was held to 10 points and five rebounds before fouling out with 3:32 left as Lob City was grounded.
Reserve Jerryd Bayless led the Grizzlies with 19 points, Marc Gasol had 16 and Zach Randolph had 13 points and four rebounds while playing with five fouls in the rematch of last year’s first-round series, won by the Clippers in seven games. Bayless was one of four Grizzlies with four fouls.
Griffin missed a dunk in the first quarter, when Tony Allen and Ed Davis had Memphis’ only two. DeAndre Jordan’s driving one-handed slam midway through the fourth was the Clippers’ first, and the big man’s first basket of the game.
Game 2 is Monday night at Staples Center.
The Grizzlies closed within a point early in the fourth on a 3-pointer by former Clipper Keyon Dooling. Los Angeles answered with a 15-3 run to go up 92-79, equaling the 13-point lead it had in the first half. Eric Bledsoe, who had seven points, opened and closed the spurt with layups as the reserves played an important role in the key stretch.
The high-flying Clippers kept their feet on the ground for most of a game dominated by the referees. Memphis was called for 29 fouls and the Clippers 28.
Memphis owned a 48-46 edge in scoring in the paint, while the Clippers dominated 25-5 in second-chance points and were better on the boards, 47-23.
The Grizzlies never led, and it didn’t help that Randolph picked up two fouls and Mike Conley Jr. had three in the first half. Besides Griffin, Jordan had four fouls, while Matt Barnes, Lamar Odom and Ronny Turiaf had three apiece for the Clippers.
Paul scored his team’s first seven points in the third, extending their lead to 64-53.
The Clippers led 57-51 at halftime after Barnes tipped in Paul’s miss just before the buzzer. They led by 13 points early in the second before the Grizzlies cut it to two points twice in the final 1:24.
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