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Chris Paul played with an aching right hip and Blake Griffin's sprained left knee stiffened up during the game. If the Clippers were truly a two-man team, then they would have been in trouble facing elimination by theMemphis Grizzlies.

Good thing the guys on the Clippers' bench want to keep playing.

Kenyon Martin's 23-footer put the Clippers ahead to start a fourth quarter in which backups scored 25 of their 27 points, helping Los Angeles' other NBA team beat Memphis 82-72 Sunday and advance to the Western Conference semifinals.

''Our bench was our MVP,'' Clippers guard Randy Foye said. ''They realized what they had to do. We had a lot of guys hurt, so we just continued to grind.''

The Clippers reserves outscored Memphis' bench 41-11 to help Los Angeles clinch its first playoff series since 2006 and only the franchise's third overall. They also helped the Clippers avoid becoming the ninth NBA team to blow a 3-1 lead in a best-of-seven series and now they head to San Antonio for a second round starting Tuesday night.

Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro said they will regroup Monday and focus on the Spurs then. He wanted his team to enjoy the series win for a little bit.

''But obviously another big challenge for us,'' Del Negro said.

Chris Paul scored 19 points despite his strained right hip flexor, and he was the only starter to score in the fourth quarter. Paul was so confident of victory he bought plane tickets for his wife and son to San Antonio on Saturday.

''I felt like we should have won earlier,'' Paul said. ''But it doesn't matter. As long as you win, I think it is a step in the right direction for our franchise.''

Rudy Gay and Marc Gasol each had 19 for Memphis, which lost a Game 7 at Oklahoma City a year ago in the second round of the playoffs. Zach Randolph had a game-high 12 rebounds.

''Unfortunately, no one on the bench stepped up and helped us,'' Memphis coach Lionel Hollins said.

The Clippers had missed two chances to clinch this series, including an eight-point lead in the fourth quarter Friday night. That's why Martin huddled the Clippers together at the start of the fourth quarter Sunday to make sure it didn't happen again.




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