Clippers emphasize physicality

May, 6, 2012
5/06/12
9:18
AM PT
LOS ANGELES -- A couple hours before Saturday's 1:30 p.m. tilt against the Los Angeles Clippers, Memphis Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins was asked by a hometown television reporter if he thought his team was going to be able to maintain the so-called physicality advantage they'd established early in the series.

Hollins laughed.

"You guys keep saying that," he told the reporter while presumably also referring to the rest of the media. "But I don't see it. They've both been physical games thus far. Today's going to be a physical game too."

Maybe Hollins should have let his team know how he felt about the physicality, too. Memphis forward Rudy Gay said in his postgame press conference following the Grizzlies' 87-86 loss that he and his team got out-physicaled by the Clippers at the Staples Center on Saturday.

"Well, we're supposed to be a physical team," Gay said in response to a question about his team's tough reputation. "They took that away from us today. They pushed us. They did all the things that we usually do to teams."

What do the Grizzlies usually do to teams?

They forced a league-leading 17.1 turnovers per game in the regular season on the strength of Hollins' signature stifling defense. They prevent big men from establishing themselves deep in the block by pushing out and rely on the perimeter defense of Tony Allen and Mike Conley to force teams into alternative offensive plans.

Reggie Evans said he wasn't sure if Game 3 was more physical -- overall -- than Game 2, because he was equally physical in each. But Blake Griffin said he thought it was, at least on the Clippers' side of things.

"That was kind of the plan: be the aggressive team from the jump and take it to them a little bit," Griffin said. "I thought we did a good job of that early. It got messed up at spots here and there but overall I thought we did a good job of being the more aggressive team.

"That's their M.O., being aggressive -- that whole grind thing. So we gotta beat them with that."

Game 3 was the first time the Clippers matched that Memphis intensity in this series. In Game 2, the Clips flat-out lost, and, in Game 1, they needed a miraculous comeback to erase the damage their lack of physicality had done earlier in the game.

The Clippers shot 30 free throws Saturday afternoon, a big jump up from the 18 they took Wednesday in Memphis. Of course, the difference was minimized by the fact that they made only 13 of the attempts each night.

But they clearly bodied up a lot better this time. Now they just need to do it again Monday night in L.A. and as the series continues on to Memphis later this week.

Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro said Saturday he thought his team "matched" the Grizzlies' physical play in Game 3.

It'd be nice if he could say in a couple days that his team exceeded its opponent in that category.

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