Memphis (2-3) at Los Angeles Clippers (3-2):
Caron Butler has been playing with a broken hand, and it seems his two superstar teammates will have to toughen up and join him in playing through injuries.
Blake Griffin and Chris Paul each were hurt in Game 5, and though they are likely to play, a gimpy version of the two could prove to be troublesome going against a tough Grizzlies team.
From Ramona Shelburne of ESPN Los Angeles: “Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin (knee) and guard Chris Paul (hip flexor, finger) spent much of Thursday getting treatment at the team’s training facility in the hopes of playing in Friday night’s Game 6 against the Memphis Grizzlies. ”They’re both pretty sore today,” Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro told ESPNLosAngeles.com. “They were in here getting as much therapy as they can today and tomorrow before the game. We obviously need both of them to be playing at a high level.” Paul told reporters after the game that he would play on Friday night. Griffin’s status was contingent on the results of the MRI he took Thursday afternoon, which confirmed the original diagnosis of a sprained knee. Del Negro could not say definitively whether either player would play Friday night until both reported for shootaround Friday morning. The Clippers said Griffin and Paul would be game-time decisions on Friday night.”
From Kevin Arnovitz of ESPN Los Angeles: “Memphis has outscored the Clippers in this series and, if not for a few possessions here and there, could very well be en route to San Antonio for a second-round matchup with the Spurs. The Clippers have never had much margin for error in this series, but now face the possibility that their two best players will be hampered for the most important 48 minutes of the Paul-Griffin era. ”I’d never felt that before,” Griffin said about his fall to the floor. “The pain scares you the most, not because it hurts, but because you don’t know what’s wrong.” The unknowable is frightening, and for the Clippers, who have never experienced the glow of a superstar-driven postseason, the next 48 hours are certain to be torturous.”
Marc Gasol finally got going offensively and scored 23 points, while Zach Randolph chipped in with 19 points and 10 rebounds.
They outrebounded the Clippers 42-35, and simply looked like the better team for much of the game.
The team will have to fight off the feeling of satisfaction, and continue to execute as they did in Game 5 if they want to extend the series back home for a Game 7.
From Nikki Boertman of The Commercial Appeal: “The simple answer is this: The Griz must find a killer instinct if tonight’s Game 6 is close down the stretch. Memphis coughed up home-court advantage and three games in a variety of ways and in fourth quarters — from blowing a 27-point lead in Game 1 to missing a potential game-winner at the buzzer in Game 3 to surrendering in overtime of Game 4. The Grizzlies’ late-game travails added up to a pair of one-point losses, and a four-point defeat in that extra session. ”They’ve made more plays than us,” Griz coach Lionel Hollins said. “The little kid Chris Paul has done a great job of finishing games. And that’s really been the difference in the three that we have lost. We did a good job of getting ahead of them and we have to do that (in) L.A.”
From Ronald Tillery of The Commercial Appeal: “Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins might be sleep deprived but he hasn’t lost perspective on his team’s playoff series with the Los Angeles Clippers. Hollins said the Griz winning Game 5 to stave off elimination didn’t swing the momentum in their favor. Memphis still trails the best-of-seven Western Conference first-round series 3-2. The predicament hasn’t changed for the Griz as it relates to Game 6 Friday night in the Staples Center. The Griz are still in a must-win situation or they will be on vacation. “We’ve got to win. That’s what we did to continue to play and we’ve got to go get another one to continue to play,” Hollins said this morning. “You can’t say, ‘Well, we got momentum to get back home.’ We have to go get momentum in the next game and try to win.”
James Park is a regular contributor to Sheridanhoops.com. You can find him on twitter @nbatupark.