Well, Los Angeles did more than match Memphis in Monday's wild Game 4 at the Staples Center. The Clippers exceeded their counterparts in the crucial toughness category to take a 3-1 series lead with a 101-97 overtime win.
"It was a fight today, there's no question about it," Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro said. "It was a very physical game, and both teams were going at it, but we were able to make some plays down the stretch."
Star forward Blake Griffin led that effort for the Clippers, standing up to Memphis forward Zach Randolph with old-fashioned body-banging in the low block before fouling out with two-plus minutes left in overtime. Griffin also led all scorers with 30 points and added seven assists and five rebounds.
Clippers guard Chris Paul, the star of overtime, contributed 27 points, nine rebounds and seven assists.
"Looking at the numbers, you would say it was too much Chris Paul," Memphis guard Tony Allen said. "Obviously we made plays down the stretch, but I would say he pretty much dictated the whole game."
Only three Grizzlies finished with double-digit points: point guard Mike Conley (25) and forwards Rudy Gay (23) and Randolph (12). But Gay and Randolph struggled with their shooting, and starting center Marc Gasol made just one field goal, finishing with eight points.
The series now moves back to Memphis for Game 5 on Wednesday. The Grizzlies must win the remaining three games in the best-of-seven series to move on to face the San Antonio Spurs.
"They do have a huge advantage, but that doesn't mean that the series is over," Memphis coach Lionel Hollins said. "It means that we have to go fight, and I expect us to keep fighting. It's been a tough, tough series. I said it was going to be interesting. We're going forward, and we still have a lot of basketball left."
For the first time this series, Hollins started the game with guard Allen on Paul from the opening tip.
For the first six or so minutes, it seemed the move would pay dividends. Paul struggled to get loose and start the Clippers' normal offense. Small forward Caron Butler, playing with a fractured left hand suffered in Game 1, scored all of the Clippers' first eight points as they trailed 12-8 midway through the first.
Then Paul broke free, assisting on two consecutive Griffin jumpers and hitting a 3-pointer of his own before notching two more assists and a technical free throw.
By the end of the first period, the Clippers led 32-26 and Paul had accumulated eight points and five assists.
Los Angeles kept that lead throughout a dynamic second quarter, stretching it out to 10 points late before Memphis closed the gap to 51-45 at halftime.
"It's been our mind-set the last two games to come out a lot stronger and a lot more physical," Griffin said. "I needed to do my part and step up and hit shots, and fortunately we were able to do that and win tonight."
Griffin finished the first half with 16 points on 6-of-8 shooting after scoring only 17 in Saturday's Game 3. Butler and Paul each added 11 in the first 24 minutes.
Conley led Memphis with 12 first-half points and five assists, and five other Grizzlies scored at least five points before the break.