With about 5:40 left and the Clippers leading the Grizzlies by seven points in Game 4 on Monday, Memphis forwards Rudy Gay and Zach Randolph ran a pick-and-roll on the right side of the floor. The pick held up Gay’s defender, Nick Young, forcing Randolph’s man, Kenyon Martin, to slide onto Gay and chase him above the three-point line. Randolph rolled wide open into his sweet spot on the right wing. Randolph’s partner in bruising dominance, Marc Gasol, flashed toward the foul line, putting Gasol’s defender, Blake Griffin, in a terrible position, stuck as the only defender left to monitor two very good, very large players.
Gay took one lefty dribble backward, and with his momentum still moving him slightly toward mid-court, he threw a long bounce pass toward Randolph. The pass was a beat late, thrown with too little pace, and it bounced high off the ground. The play unfolded slowly enough for Griffin, an allegedly poor defender, to read it, dart over to Randolph, slice in front him and steal the ball.
On the ensuing possession, the Clippers went to Griffin on the left block against Randolph, hoping Griffin could use his allegedly unrefined post game to create offense while Chris Paul continued an extended stint on the bench. Griffin turned to face Randolph, brought the ball down to his knee level and faked a lefty drive to the baseline. Randolph leaned that way, and Griffin exploded back to his right and dribbled into the foul line area, drawing Grizzlies point guard Mike Conley off Mo Williams at the top of the three-point arc for some crisis management. Griffin flicked a pass to Williams for a three-pointer, dishing the last of his seven assists (to go with 30 points) during an important stretch in which the Clippers built a lead, on Griffin’s back, as Paul rested up for his late-game heroics.