Maybe it was the slow, deliberate pace of this Mississippi River town.

Or perhaps it was the soothing music oozing from the jazz clubs along Beale Street and the sweet aroma of barbecue hanging in the air.

Whatever the reasons, the Clippers arrived here last week armed with a 2-0 lead and a confident swagger in their Western Conference first-round playoff series against the Memphis Grizzlies, only to immediately lose their edge, numbed by a false sense of security and the gentile surroundings of this sleepy city.

That they return to Los Angeles for Game 5 on Tuesday tied 2-2 with the Grizzlies is only half the problem.

Memphis, like the Clippers did at Staples Center, held serve in its home arena. If that wasn't expected, it was a strong possibility.

While it fell short of what the Clippers hoped to accomplish this weekend, the notion they'd roll through the Grizzlies was farfetched.

The bigger issue is how the Clippers lost here. Better yet, how the Grizzlies took the fight to them, specifically inside with Memphis big men Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol having their way with them on the boards and the scoreboard alike.

More disturbing was the Clippers' response - or lack thereof - to the Grizzlies' aggressiveness.

The result was two straight losses to even the series, the last of which was an alarming beatdown that left Matt Barnes angrily questioning the Clippers' manhood.