Grizzlies rally, force deciding Game 7

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(AP) — Marc Gasol scored 23 points, Zach Randolph had 18 points and 16 rebounds, and the Memphis Grizzles rallied in the fourth quarter to beat the Los Angeles Clippers 90-88 Friday night, forcing a decisive seventh game in the series.

Rudy Gay and Mike Conley added 13 points each to help the Grizzlies win for the first time in the Western Conference series at Staples Center.

Blake Griffin scored 17 points despite a sprained left knee that limited his jumping ability, and Eric Bledoe added 14 off the bench to lead the Clippers, who blew an eight-point lead in the fourth along with a second consecutive chance to close out what would have been a landmark playoff victory for the beleaguered franchise.

Chris Paul scored 11 points playing with a strained right hip flexor and a jammed right middle finger.

The Clippers are seeking just the third playoff series win in franchise history. Game 7 will be Sunday in Memphis.

Only eight teams in NBA history have come back from a 3-1 deficit to win a seven-game series. Top-seeded San Antonio awaits the winner in the conference semifinals.

Tied 66-all starting the fourth, the Clippers scored 10 straight to take their first lead since the game’s opening minutes. Bledsoe scored six points.

But the Grizzlies weren’t done.

They went on a 17-4 run, including 10 straight points, to take an 85-80 lead. Gay scored five in a row as the Clippers missed and Randolph came up with a big block. Conley hit a 3-pointer and Randolph tipped in the ball to close out the spurt.

Griffin made two free throws before Randolph scored for an 87-82 lead. Conley fouled Paul, and he missed the first and made the second to leave Los Angeles trailing 87-83 with 56 seconds left.

The Clippers were forced to keep fouling, and the Grizzlies made 3 of 8 to stay alive. The Clippers’ Caron Butler missed a 3-pointer with 14 seconds to go as red-clad fans headed for the exits before Randy Foye hit a 3 with 3 seconds left.

Memphis opened the second half on a 12-8 run to extend its lead to 54-46, with Randolph having six points and Gasol four. Los Angeles answered right back, with Paul bookending a 14-6 spurt that tied the game at 60. Griffin and DeAndre Jordan got in two huge dunks before Paul’s jumper from the right corner brought the Clippers all the way back from an eight-point deficit earlier in the quarter.

Butler’s 3-pointer gave the Clippers their first lead, 63-62, since the game’s opening minutes. Griffin took the ball away from Gasol and fed Bledsoe for a layup that tied the game at 66 going into the fourth quarter.

The Grizzlies led by nine points in the first half, when they outrebounded the Clippers. Paul twice drew the Clippers within one in the second quarter before Gasol’s three-point play extended Memphis’ lead to 42-38 at the break. Paul and Griffin combined for 12 points and six rebounds in the half, with Paul playing 18 minutes and Griffin 15. The Grizzlies had 13 turnovers in the half, when neither team shot well.

Notes: Reggie Evans was called for a technical in the second quarter, the 20th of the series and 13th for the Clippers. … Mo Williams, who scored 20 points for the Clippers in Game 5, had the middle and ring fingers of his right shooting hand taped and he scored just two points. … The Clippers’ bench outscored Memphis’ reserves for the fourth time in the series, 34-15. … The Clippers fell to 2-3 in the sixth game of a playoff series.

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