Chris Paul had 24 points and 11 assists and high-flying Blake Griffin added 17 points for the Clippers, who beat the Memphis Grizzles 87-86 Saturday only after Gay missed a 3-pointer just before the buzzer.
''That's the way we planned it,'' Paul joked. ''They aren't going to give us anything. They're never out of the game with an electrifying scorer like Rudy Gay.''
The Clippers won their first home playoff game in six seasons to take a 2-1 series lead in the Western Conference playoffs. Game 4 is Monday night.
The long-suffering Clippers fans, who turned Staples Center into a sea of red, very easily could have gone home disappointed.
Paul hit a fadeaway jumper with 2:02 left for an 82-80 lead. On the next possession he had a no-look bounce pass to Griffin coming in off the baseline for a monster slam.
Trailing 86-80 after two free throws by Paul, Gay hit a 3-pointer with 12.9 seconds left, Memphis' first field goal since 7:10. After Los Angeles missed three of four free throws, Gay hit another 3-pointer with 8.9 seconds to hush the crowd.
Eric Bledsoe missed two more free throws, Gilbert Arenas rebounded for Memphis to set up Gay's final shot. Gay, who had 24 points, got some room to shoot, and quickly let go. But it the shot bounced off the rim.