Grizzlies 101, Clippers 95

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) – The Memphis Grizzlies won a game they were probably better off losing.

Jake Tsaklalidis scored 18 points and grabbed nine rebounds, while Lorenzen Wright finished with 17 points Tuesday night as the Grizzlies defeated the Los Angeles Clippers 101-95, giving Memphis a better seeding but less favorable matchup in the first round of the playoffs.

The win gives Memphis the fifth seed in the Western Conference and an opening round matchup against Dallas. The Clippers, who lost their second straight and fifth in the last seven, dropped to the sixth seed but will have home-court advantage Northwest Division champion Denver.

Bobby Jackson scored 15 points for Memphis, while Shane Battier added 12 points as the Grizzlies won for the seventh time in eight games.

Despite all the benefits of losing to finish sixth, neither team appeared to be playing to lose down the stretch.

The Clippers cut an 18-point fourth-quarter deficit to 96-93 when Daniel Ewing hit a pair of free throws with 29.6 remaining.

However, a 3-pointer by Mike Miller with 11 seconds left put the game out of reach. As Jackson sank a pair of free throws with 4.5 seconds remaining, the Memphis crowd began standing and cheering for the Grizzlies in their home finale.

James Singleton, who averages 3.1 points, led the Clippers with 23 points, while Elton Brand had 17 points and eight rebounds. Walter McCarty scored 12 points, including 10 in the first half, while Cuttino Mobley finished with 10 points.

Before the game, Memphis put leading scorer and rebounder Pau Gasol on the inactive list with a sore left foot. That allowed Hakim Warrick to start his first game of the season in Gasol’s power forward spot.

The Clippers countered with a starting lineup that included Vin Baker, playing in his seventh game and his first start of the season, Shaun Livingston in place of Sam Cassell, and Singleton, starting his eighth game of the season.

Center Chris Kaman and Mobley were in uniform after sitting out Sunday’s loss to Seattle with nagging injuries. Mobley played, but Cassell and Kaman never got their warmups off.

The two teams started a combined 4-for-16 from the field before the Grizzlies built the lead to 18 based on the inside play of Wright and Tsakalidis. The pair of centers were a combined 9-for-13 from the field in the first half, with Wright scoring 11 points and Tsakalidis adding nine.

Also, Jackson had 12 points on four 3-pointers to help Memphis take a 51-33 lead into halftime.

McCarty, who entered the game with a 1.9-point average, had 10 points at the break to lead Clippers.

Memphis extended the lead to 21 in the third period, but the Clippers put together a 14-2 run to get the margin under 10 at 69-60.

The Grizzlies with a 3-pointer by Brian Cardinal in the final seconds of the third period, carried a 76-65 in the fourth.

Notes: Asked before the game about preparing for a Clippers team starting different players, Memphis coach Mike Fratello winked and said: “They don’t know who we’re playing either.” Then Gasol showed up on the bench in street clothes. … Gasol grabbed the microphone before the game to thank fans for their support during the season. … The Clippers have tied the franchise road record with 19 victories, a mark set by the 1974-75 Buffalo Braves. … Brand reached double figures in all 79 games he’s played this season. … Clippers coach Mike Dunleavy was intense enough about the game to earn a third-period technical for arguing about officiating.

AP-ES-04-18-06 2254EDT

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