Blake Griffin’s availability to involve a game-time decision

The Clippers face the Marc Gasol (33), Mike Conley (right) and the Grizzlies in a must-win Game 6 on Thursday night in Memphis and power forward Blake Griffin (center), their most physical player, will be a game-time decision because of a sprained ankle.
(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

The task the Clippers face in trying to deal with a tough Memphis Grizzlies team has become even more daunting.

There is Blake Griffin’s sprained right ankle that limited the All-Star forward to about 20 minutes in the Clippers’ Game 5 loss Tuesday in the Western Conference playoffs. His X-rays were negative and an MRI showed no structural damage Wednesday.

But the Clippers, who trail the Grizzlies, 3-2, have listed Griffin as a game-time decision for their win-or-go-home Game 6 at Memphis on Friday.


There is also the bruised left thumb Chris Paul suffered late in Game 5. But the Clippers said Paul, who tied his playoff career high with 35 points in that game, will play Friday.

“Injuries are a part of pro sports and sports in general,” Clippers Coach Vinny Del Negro said.

The Clippers didn’t practice Wednesday, but Griffin received therapy on his ankle and his treatments will continue until game time Friday night at the FedEx Forum.

If Griffin can’t play, Del Negro said, Lamar Odom probably will start at power forward.

“Terrible timing,” Del Negro said about Griffin’s injury. Griffin was injured in practice Monday. “You just have to deal with it. No one likes it, no one more so than him.”

As Del Negro began to talk about the issues they are having with the Grizzlies, his list grew.

He talked about how Memphis’ “bigs are having their way with us.”

That would be Memphis power forward Zach Randolph, who is averaging 20.4 points and 8.6 rebounds in the series, and center Marc Gasol, who is averaging 18.8 points, 7.6 rebounds and 3.8 assists.

“I’ve been fortunate to coach them and to have two premier post players,” Memphis Coach Lionel Hollins said after Tuesday night’s game. “We can go inside. They both can play outside. Both of them can pass the basketball and it’s a luxury not many coaches have.”

Del Negro talked about how Memphis guard Tony Allen is crashing the offensive boards; Allen is averaging 6.4 rebounds in the series to go with his 10.6 points. The Clippers coach also noted how point guard Mike Conley’s dribble penetration has helped him average 8.6 assists and 16.2 points.

And Del Negro talked about how effective Memphis reserve Quincy Pondexter has been in scoring (5.8 points), rebounding (2.4) and on defense.

It sounds as though the Clippers have a lot of holes to try and plug.

“It’s hard to plug them all,” Del Negro said. “They are efficient at what they do. We’ve made a lot of adjustments. Some people don’t understand the adjustments.”

He said the Clippers were trying to double-team when the Grizzlies passed inside the lane and when Randolph or Gasol dribbled.

“There’s things you can do,” Del Negro said. “They know the different coverages and they’re going to make you pay in certain areas. So we have to do a better job with our communication and with our trust and execution of those things.”