Clippers knocked out Grizzlies, meet Spurs in semifinal round
Kenyon Martin provided the push the Los Angeles Clippers needed. The veteran forward scored seven of his 11 points in the fourth quarter, and the Clippers advanced to the Western Conference semifinals with an 82-72 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies in Game 7 on Sunday.
"That's why it's seven games," Martin said. "If you don't do it before, you get another chance. So they did what they had to do, they came and stole home court back on our floor. ... We had a chance to close it out. We knew we let it go, an opportunity get away."
The Clippers blew an eight-point lead in the fourth quarter Friday night. So Martin huddled his teammates together at the start of the fourth quarter Sunday, and the veteran led the bench in outscoring the Grizzlies 25-16.
Los Angeles' reserves outscored the Memphis bench 41-11 overall.
"Our bench was our MVP," Clippers guard Randy Foye said. "They realized what they had to do. We had a lot of guys hurt, so we just continued to grind."
Chris Paul had 19 points, nine rebounds and four assists despite playing with a strained right hip flexor. Nick Young had nine of his 13 off the bench in the fourth as the Clippers finished off the series with their biggest margin of victory.
Rudy Gay and Marc Gasol each had 19 for Memphis, which lost a Game 7 at Oklahoma City last year in the second round of the playoffs. Zach Randolph added nine points and a game-high 12 rebounds.
The Clippers, who trailed 56-55 after three quarters, took control by opening the fourth with an 11-2 run started by a jumper by Martin. He tipped in a shot for a 66-58 lead with 8:41 left.
Mo Williams matched the Clippers' biggest lead to that point at 10 with a 3-pointer pushing it to 71-61 with 7:04 left in a 16-5 spurt to open the quarter.
Los Angeles finished off the win by making 9-of-10 free throws in the final 3:26. The Clippers also managed to outrebound the Grizzlies 46-44 for only the second time the series.
Blake Griffin had only eight points and four rebounds, 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.
The Clippers advanced to the Western Conference semifinal round and will meet the San Antonio Spurs starting Tuesday night at the AT&T Center.
(AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)