Game 1: Los Angeles Clippers at Memphis Grizzlies
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times for the Memphis Grizzlies during their game 1 match-up against the Los Angeles Clippers. They dominated the Los Angeles Clippers for 40 straight minutes, but over the last 8, they lost their huge lead, and may have given the psychological advantage to the Clippers heading into game 2 in Memphis on Wednesday. So what happened?
To start the 4th quarter, Rudy Gay hit a leaner in the lane, and after Mo Williams picked up a technical, Gay hit a free throw to give the Grizzlies a 88-64 lead with 11:37 left in the game. With 9:12 left in the game, OJ Mayo hit a 3-pointer to again give the Clippers a 24-point lead 95-71. Another minute went by without a score, until Chris Paul fed Reggie Evans (MVP of the game) for a lay-up with 7:54 left, to get the score to 95-73.
After Mayo’s 3 with 9:12 left to give them a 24 point lead, the Grizzlies didn’t score—except for a lone free throw by Mike Conley—until there was 28 seconds left in the game. By that point, the Clippers had completed the greatest comeback of the last decade in the NBA playoffs. It was a 26-1 run by the Clippers over the last 7:30 of the game. But it wasn’t really a comeback unless the Clippers got the win.
Their historic night was temporarily set back by a Rudy Gay 10 foot jumper over a mismatched Chris Paul with 28 seconds left to give the Grizz a 97-96 lead. It gave the Grizzlies the lead, but also stopped the bleeding. Sure, they had just given up a 24 point 4th quarter lead, but now they had the lead back, and they only needed to stop the Clippers.
Tony Allen, who had not really matched up on Chris Paul until then, took the assignment and made a stupid reach-in foul on Paul with 23.7 seconds left. The Grizzlies were in the penalty, and Chris Paul calmly sank both free throws to give the Clippers a 99-98 advantage with 23.7 seconds left.
The Clippers still had a foul to give, so Kenyon Martin fouled Rudy Gay with 9 seconds left, and the Grizzlies took the ball out. Gay made a move around the elbow—protecting the ball from the reaching Chris Paul. Gay took to the air for the game-winner over Kenyon Martin, but it fell short, Griffin rebounded and the Clippers jumped into each other’s arms in disbelief.
The Clippers had just done it. They had come back from 24 down in the 4th quarter of a playoff game, and gotten the victory. As my old man exclaimed this morning, “They fuckin’ won it?!? I turned it off in the first half thinking they were done.” They were not, and I’m sure there were a bevy of NBA writers that did the same thing.
As Charles Barkley alluded to after the game, it’s a playoff series and there’s usually not that much carry-over from game to game. But if the Grizz let this game get to them, the bad vibes will carry over to Wednesday. More to come on this historic game later.
Final: Los Angeles Clippers 99 - MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES 98
[UPDATE: Reader, Dopaesthetics, thought my write-up had some errors. I can assure dopeaesthetics I watched the game. Twice, in fact. I did mix up OJ Mayo and Rudy Gay in the intial posting, but that’s been fixed. Thanks for keeping me on my toes. If I make an empirical mistake in a recap, please let me know. Or, you know, reblog it and call me an asshole. Whichever works best for you.]