The Memphis Grizzlies looked nothing like the team they were in the regular season during the first two games in Los Angeles. During Game 3, they did.
Memphis was able to dictate the tempo and play solid defense en-route to a 94-82 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers.
Zach Randolph was dominant, finishing with 27 points and 11 rebounds. The Clippers had no answer for the mercurial power forward, and he beat them up in the post all night long.
Although Mike Conley did not have the type of performance he did in Game 2, he was able to run the Memphis offense to perfection, dishing out 10 assists without turning the ball over.
The Clippers had problems all night long with Memphis' stellar defense. Chris Paul was corralled and Blake Griffin was held to six points after the first quarter.
Memphis' ability to control the pace finally came through, despite the Clippers' electric bench, which was held in check.
Game 4 is sure to be a slug-fest, especially if Memphis can rebound and control the tempo like they did tonight.
Mike Conley, PG MEM: B
While Paul started out slow, Mike Conley turned in a five assist performance in the first segment. His quickness was on display, as he was able to dart past Paul and drop the ball off to Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph.
Conley's impact was limited in the second quarter, as he failed to record an assist. The pace slowed considerably from the first two games of the series. Conley's play was impacted due to this, because the previous game in Los Angeles, Conley was able to use the Clippers' pace against them, as he nearly scored 30 points.
Overall, Conley was not much of a factor scoring the ball, but simply ran the offense efficiently. He collected 10 assists, six rebounds, three steals, but more importantly, zero turnovers.
Chris Paul, PG LAC: C-
Credit the Memphis Grizzlies' defense for taking Chris Paul out of the game early, because there will not be many games where Paul goes an entire quarter without dishing out an assist.
Paul's play began to pick up a bit in the second quarter, but Paul only finished the half with six points and four rebounds. More importantly, Paul had zero assists and committed three turnovers. Memphis' defense was able to limit Paul's penetration and was part of the reason why they had an eight-point lead at halftime.
The second half was much of the same. The Memphis defense was able to pinch him on pick-and-rolls and did not let CP3 split their hedges. Combine that with good defensive efforts from Conley, Tony Allen and Quincy Pondexter, and Paul had one of the worst games of his playoff career, finishing with eight points, four assists and five turnovers.
Tony Allen, SG MEM: B+
There was no lack of energy from Tony Allen as Game 3 began. He was flying around the court and attempting to create off the dribble. Unfortunately, Allen's creation ability has always been lacking, and it was on display in the first quarter. He missed a few easy shots due to wild drives to the basket and turned the ball over twice.
While Allen might not have been efficient on offense, finishing 4-for-11, he made his impact on the boards, finishing with nine rebounds. Allen was also able to impact the game on defense, by slowing down Chris Paul and collecting four steals.
Chauncey Billups, SG LAC: C+
Chauncey Billups came out of the gates looking to carry the early offensive load for the Los Angeles Clippers, but that did not last long. He connected on a nice pull-up three, but did not score the remainder of the half.
Meanwhile, his defense on Tony Allen was suspect, as Allen was able to beat him off the dribble consistently. Fortunately, Allen is more of a threat on cuts away from the ball and not with it in his hands.
Billups finished with 11 points, but he did not make much of an impact overall.
Caron Butler, SF LAC: C
When Caron Butler is not scoring early, his overall impact is limited to what he can do on the defensive side of the ball. However, with Butler matched up against Tayshaun Prince, the two essentially canceled each other out.
Butler was able to finished in double digits, with 10 points, but was not a factor on either side of the ball.
Tayshaun Prince SF, MEM: D
The impact Tayshaun Prince has had on this series has been virtually non-existent and that continued tonight. His length was obviously impacting Caron Butler's offensive game, but the Los Angeles Clippers really do not rely on Butler to score.
Previously, Prince has been asked to play some point forward, but was not needed to with the offense running through Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph.
Zach Randolph, PF MEM: A+
After two lackluster performances, Zach Randolph started the game on a mission to score early and often. ZBo finished the first quarter with 13 points, helping Memphis get off to a good start.
His offense would continue in the second, as he finished with 18 points and four rebounds. Randolph's aggressiveness was vital in the team's solid play in the first half. Also, Randolph's effectiveness on the block allowed the Memphis Grizzlies to slow down the tempo, something they were unable to do in the previous two games.
Randolph's dominance continued in the second half, as he finished with a game-high 27 points and 11 rebounds. His energy and presence on the block was the factor in Memphis not only winning the game, but controlling the game nearly from start to finish.
Blake Griffin, PF LAC: C
Much like the previous two games, Blake Griffin was efficient on the block to start the game. Zach Randolph and Darrell Arthur were too slow to check Blake, especially once he put the ball on the floor. Griffin did his part to match Randolph early, scoring 10 points in the first.
Defensively, Griffin was unable to handle Randolph all night. Griffin was able to keep him from gaining good position on the block, but Randolph was too crafty and able to use his footwork to score on him.
Unfortunately for the Los Angeles Clippers, Griffin only scored six points after the first quarter. To make matters worse, Blake grabbed a pathetic two rebounds in 33 minutes. Blake has to rebound better than that if the Clippers are to advance.
Marc Gasol, C MEM: B
Considering how well Zach Randolph was playing early, Marc Gasol was not needed to facilitate the offense. Instead, Gasol was able to stretch Jordan out of the paint with the threat of his jumper. The combination paid off in the first half, as the Memphis Grizzlies built an eight-point lead at the half.
The Los Angeles Clippers' defense was forced to step out and guard Gasol, who scored 16 points. His ability to pass and shoot from the high post made it difficult to double Zach Randolph. Gasol was also able to hit the glass, recording eight rebounds.
DeAndre Jordan, C LAC: C
Although active on defense, Jordan's offensive game was not there tonight. He was able to help neutralize Marc Gasol in the first 24 minutes and was able to block a pair of shots. In fact, Jordan did not attempt a shot until three minutes left in the half.
Jordan's play resulted on the Clippers being minus-12 with him on the floor in the first half, the second half was more of the same.
Vinny Del Negro decided to reduce DJ's minutes the rest of the way, as he finished with two points and eight rebounds in 23 minutes.
Jamal Crawford, SG LAC: B-
Jamal Crawford started slow and picked up two early fouls, which sent him back to the bench. Although he was able to create decent looks for himself, it was not a repeat of Game 2's six-for-six start. If Crawford's shot is not falling, he can become a liability, as he tends to jack shot after shot.
Luckily for the Los Angeles Clippers, Crawford altered his shot selection and was able to find his way in the second half.
J-Crossover finished with 10 points, three rebounds and three assists, but could not bring back the Clippers down the stretch.
Darrell Arthur, PF MEM: C+
Despite not having much of an impact in the first two games, Arthur made his presence felt in Game 3. His ability to stretch the floor made it difficult for the Los Angeles Clippers reserves to cause as much havoc on defense as usual.
Additionally, Arthur's rebounding was much needed, considering Memphis was unable to control the boards in Games 1 and 2. Overall, Arthur finished with five points and six rebounds in 17 minutes.
Unlike the previous two games, the Memphis Grizzlies bench was able to keep up with the Clippers'.
Quincy Pondexter played a very good game, even defending Chris Paul at times. He finished with a playoff career-high 13 points, and gave the Clippers' defense fits when in the game.
Keyon Dooling provided quality minutes behind Mike Conley at point guard, scoring seven points.
The only concern for Memphis should be Jerryd Bayless. He was a key player off the bench down the stretch, but has yet to earn steady minutes or be effective on offense in the postseason.
Los Angeles: C
What more can be said about Matt Barnes' importance to the Los Angeles Clippers this season? He was signed late in the summer and might have been one of the best pickups of the entire year. He proved why, yet again, tonight scoring 12 points and taking eight foul shots.
After Barnes and Crawford, the rest of the Clippers' bench played poorly, combining to shoot 5-for-11.
They were also unable to dictate the pace, which allowed the Memphis Grizzlies to maintain their lead and control the tempo.