This series has been physical and grinding from the opening tip, and neither team backed down in a winner-take-all game.
The Clippers and Grizzlies scrapped and fought for every ball with each possession feeling like a knockdown, drag-out fight. Memphis should have had an advantage against the hobbled Clippers tipping off when they usually eat breakfast on the West Coast. Blake Griffin scored only eight points and looked tentative most of the game with a sprained left knee.
Del Negro said Griffin's knee tightened up on him as the game went on, and Griffin played only 1:39 of the fourth quarter. Not that it mattered the way the Clippers' bench came through.
The Grizzlies even brought out wrestler Jerry Lawler to help stoke up the sold-out crowd, but both teams showed the fatigue of a quick turnaround from Game 6 on Friday night in Los Angeles. The Clippers missed nine of their first 10 shots, while the Grizzlies missed seven of nine.
"It was Game 7 pressure and jitters," Hollins said. "We wanted to do well. We just wanted to let it rip. You walk up here and have two strikes on you in the ninth inning and you have to let it rip. And we didn't."
The Clippers shook off the exhaustion thanks to their bench.
The Grizzlies managed to pull within 39-38 at halftime even though they kept struggling to find the basket. Mike Conley missed his first seven shots with his drought stretching to the free throw line where he missed his first attempt. Conley didn't hit his first bucket until a jumper in the early seconds of the third quarter. Conley finished with seven points on 2 of 13 shooting.
Notes: Del Negro now is 1-1 in Game 7s, losing his first in the 2009 first-round while coaching Chicago against Boston. Hollins now is 0-2 in Game 7s. ... Griffin finished playing 28 minutes and was 3 of 11 from the floor. He had four rebounds. ... The Grizzlies shot 32.5 percent (25 of 77) from the floor, their worst percentage of the series.
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