At noon on Sunday, Memphis will witness yet another first as an NBA city: A Game 7 at home.
The Grizzlies made this possible by beating the Clippers 90-88, in what had been their own kind of game. In this series, the Clippers have won the nail-biters — of their three wins, two have been by a single point and the other in overtime. And the Clippers have typically been the team erasing fourth quarter leads.
But in a potential elimination game Friday night in Los Angeles, it was the Grizzlies making a fourth-quarter comeback to win a tight game. Down 68-76 with 8:30 to play, the Grizzlies got an unlikely boost from Hamed Haddadi — the unlikely part being that he was in that game at all in the fourth quarter of an elimination game — and then closed with their starting lineup.
A Rudy Gay three-point play gave the Grizzlies a 78-76 lead with 6:28 to play and they never trailed again. Mike Conley knocked down consecutive jumpers. Zach Randolph completed a two-hand flush off a high-post bounce pass from Marc Gasol. And Tony Allen was the God of Chaos: He had steals, he had turnovers. He missed jumpers, he snared defensive rebounds. And he leaked out when the Clippers were asleep at the free-throw line, getting fouled at the rim and pushing the Grizzlies lead from four to six in the final minute.
The Grizzlies got an awful lot of help from subpar Chris Paul and Blake Griffin performances, neither player at 100%, but also overcame a 20-7 negative turnover disparity and continued disappointing play from Gay and O.J. Mayo.
But the rediscovered post play of Gasol and Randolph was there again — combining for 42 points and 25 rebounds. Mike Conley was steady again — 13 points and 9 assists. And the team defense was solid despite not turning the Clippers over. And as long as those three elements are in place, this Grizzlies team can hang with anybody.
Game 7 will tip at noon on Sunday. Tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. Saturday at all Ticketmaster outlets, by calling 800-745-3000 or 901-888-HOOP, by visiting the FedExForum Box Office or online at grizzlies.com or ticketmaster.com.