Skip to content

Once again Clippers/Grizzlies play it close. Once again Clips have too much Chris Paul.

May 8, 2012, 3:37 AM EDT

Blake Griffin, Chris Paul AP

Again it was physical and nasty game. Again it was close at the end. Again the Los Angeles Clippers and Memphis Grizzlies fought like two evenly matched teams that just don’t like each other. This time it went all the way to overtime.

And Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins said it was the same thing that was the difference in the end.

Chris Paul.”

He is right. Paul had eight of the Clippers’ 14 points in overtime — he would come off the high pick, go right at the Memphis big man, get him backpedaling, then pull up for an elbow jumper. He was the reason the Clippers won 101-97 and have a commanding 3-1 series lead heading to Memphis for Game 5.

“(Paul) made three straight jumpers, got to the basket, got fouled, I mean come on,” Hollins said. “Chris Paul won that game for them down the stretch.”

As he has all series. He has dominated late. CP3 has been the best player on the floor. But there were other keys for the Clippers as this team continues to learn how to win in the playoffs.

Los Angeles played its best defense of the series, holding Memphis to 43.4 percent shooting — and if you take away the Grizzlies’ 20 second-chance points (19 offensive rebounds), they shot just 41.8 percent. Or, look at it this way: Remove Mike Conley — who was fantastic with 25 points on 10-of-15 shooting — and the rest of the Grizzlies shot just 38.8 percent. Or count their starting front of Marc Gasol, Rudy Gay and Zach Randolph, who combined to 35 percent.

The Clippers defense cut off Grizzlies’ preferred angles, taking away clean passes to the post, and that threw the Memphis system off balance. When Gasol does not get the ball in his preferred spots, the Grizzlies’ offense can stall out and become isolation-heavy — he is key to their ball movement. But Gasol had just 4 shot attempts and 8 points all game. Gay tried to attack and find his spots and had 23 points but needed 25 shots to get there.

Meanwhile, a Blake Griffin that was more aggressive getting to his spots on the offensive end had 30 points on just 15 shots, plus 7 assists. It was his best game of the playoffs, while CP3 added 27.

Then there were good contributions from the Clippers bench again. Reggie Evans had a key offensive rebound off a missed Griffin shot in overtime to set up a CP3 bucket. Mo Williams had 9 points. Nick Young hit a key three — one Griffin assisted while sitting after slipping on a drive.

Despite all that, the Clippers could not pull away. In part because they shot only 33 percent for the second quarter and the front line of Memphis does not make anything easy, they are physical right back with the Clippers and were not getting their points. Conley was on fire and Memphis was scrappy. They fought back from 10 down and made it a game.

But in the end the Clippers had Chris Paul.

To a man after the game the Grizzlies said this series was not over — if they had not blown a 27 point lead in Game 1 the series would be tied. If they could find a way to stop Chris Paul.

“We are confident,” Rudy Gay said. “We’re a tough and resilient team. I think we can bounce back.”

“We’re going to try and shut down Chris Paul a little bit,” Hollins said. “He’s the problem and we’ve got to solve the problem.”

Chris Paul has won just one playoff closeout game in his NBA career — he has only once advanced to the second round. It’s going to be hard to get that win Wednesday night in Memphis. These Clippers are not young but they are young as a core being together and they are figuring things out still. These Clippers are still learning to win as a team.

But they are making a pretty quick study of it.

Latest Posts
  1. 67RIEFNS No. 27: Chandler Parsons in the spotlight

    Oct 22, 2014, 9:20 PM EDT

    Preseason - Dallas Mavericks v Cleveland Cavaliers Getty Images

    Rockets downgraded Parsons, but he’ll have a chance to reach new heights with Mavericks

  2. Phil Jackson breaks down the Knicks roster. He’s high on Shumpert, says Carmelo must move ball

    Oct 22, 2014, 6:21 PM EDT

    Toronto Raptors v New York Knicks Toronto Raptors v New York Knicks

    Phil Jackson has spoken to the media more than the previous three GMs ever did, I think.

  3. Commissioner Adam Silver talked television money, what it could mean for potential 2017 lockout

    Oct 22, 2014, 5:16 PM EDT

    Adam Silver Adam Silver

    “ We still have roughly a third of our teams that are not profitable under the current system, despite revenue sharing.” —Adam Silver

  4. Other highlights from NBA’s GM survey: Some thought Chicago had better summer than Cleveland

    Oct 22, 2014, 4:30 PM EDT

    Cleveland Cavaliers Media Day Getty Images

    Oddest vote of the survey — 10.7 percent of GMs thought Chicago had a better offseason than Cleveland.

  5. Jeff Van Gundy: Confusing a system (like the Triangle Offense) with reason for success is ‘a huge mistake’

    Oct 22, 2014, 3:42 PM EDT

    Los Angeles Lakers head coach Phil Jackson answers questions at a post-game news conference following Game 4 of their NBA Western Conference semi-final basketball playoff against the Dallas Mavericks in Dallas Reuters

    Van Gundy says players are responsible for wins and losses, not systems — like the one Phil Jackson is bringing to the Knicks this season.

  6. Five top candidates for NBA Rookie of the Year

    Oct 22, 2014, 2:58 PM EDT

    Milwaukee Bucks v New York Knicks Milwaukee Bucks v New York Knicks

    This could be the year a big man breaks the string of guards winning the award.

  7. Paul Pierce on players switching teams in free agency: ‘It’s a great thing for our league’

    Oct 22, 2014, 2:13 PM EDT

    Paul Pierce AP

    Pierce played 15 years for the Celtics, but is now with his second new team in as many seasons with the Wizards.

  8. Celtics trying to trade Will Bynum, who they recently acquired from Pistons

    Oct 22, 2014, 1:29 PM EDT

    Miami Heat v Detroit Pistons Getty Images

    Boston is hoping to get an asset in return for Bynum instead of simply waiving him.

  9. NBA GMs surveyed predict LeBron will win MVP, Spurs will repeat as champions

    Oct 22, 2014, 12:04 PM EDT

    2014 NBA Finals - Game Five Getty Images

    There are plenty more interesting tidbits in the league’s annual survey.

  10. Owners vote down NBA Draft lottery reform, system to stay same for this season

    Oct 22, 2014, 11:23 AM EDT

    David Griffin, Jeff Cohen David Griffin, Jeff Cohen

    It may come up again, but for one more season at least Philadelphia’s uber-tanking system will pay dividends.

  11. George Hill leaves with knee injury, creating more problems for Pacers

    Oct 22, 2014, 10:45 AM EDT

    George Hill AP

    In addition to losing its two best playmakers in the offseason. Indiana has struggled with injuries.

  12. ProBasketballTalk 2014-15 preview: Houston Rockets

    Oct 22, 2014, 10:00 AM EDT

    Houston Rockets Media Day Getty Images

    This is a team where winning 50 games and exiting in the first round would feel like a big disappointment.

  13. Chris Kaman suffers head laceration thanks to the teeth of Timofey Mozgov (VIDEO)

    Oct 22, 2014, 9:30 AM EDT

    Utah Jazz v Portland Trail Blazers Utah Jazz v Portland Trail Blazers

    Inadvertent collision resulted in Kaman needing stitches in the back of his head.

Featured video

Lakers, Celtics among lottery bound teams
Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. K. Bryant (4392)
  2. B. Lopez (4097)
  3. D. Rose (3825)
  4. E. Payton (3772)
  5. J. Lin (3747)