Paul, Clippers rout Memphis


LOS ANGELES — Chris Paul directed the offense to the tune of 23 points and seven assists, and the Los Angeles Clippers dominated on the glass to beat the Memphis Grizzlies, 112-91, in the opener of their Western Conference quarterfinal series.

Eric Bledsoe scored 13 of his 15 points in the final quarter when the Clippers went 15-of-22 from the field and held a 37-22 scoring advantage.

The Clippers placed seven players in double figures, including Chauncey Billups with 14 in the rematch of this first-round series from a year ago. The Clippers topped Memphis in seven games in 2012.

The team known as “Lob City” for having two of the three top players in dunks for the season, the Clippers had just one jam all night, that from DeAndre Jordan in the fourth quarter. Yet, the Clippers managed to pull away down the stretch.

Jerryd Bayless had 19 points off the bench for the Grizzlies, who also received 16 points and seven assists from Marc Gasol. Memphis was beaten on the glass, 47-23.

Game 2 of this best-of-seven set is Monday, again at Staples Center.

The Pacific Division champion Clippers, seeded fourth, were ahead only a point after Keyon Dooling nailed a 3-point shot for a 77-76 margin with 10:11 remaining.

Bledsoe, though, drove in for a layup to start a 7-0 run. Another layup, off an assist from Paul, widened the gap to 92-79 with 4:15 to go.

Gasol made a pair from the charity stripe for a 97-87 difference with 3:14 left, but LA salted away the victory by netting the next nine points. That included a 3-ball from Paul from the top of the arc.

The Clippers, who had a combined 381 dunks from Blake Griffin (202) and Jordan (179), first and third-most in the league, had their only jam midway through the fourth quarter. That’s when Jordan delivered a one-handed flush driving from the right baseline.

Memphis, which never led, fell behind 29-21 after the first quarter. The Grizzlies got as close as two in the second, but LA scored the final four of the half, including a tip-in from Matt Barnes in the closing second for a 57-51 halftime edge. It was 75-69 going to the fourth.