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Grizzlies coach backs off CP3 flopping charge, Clippers defend it

May 9, 2012, 7:01 PM EDT

Los Angeles Clippers' Paul puts his arm around teammate Griffin during NBA basketball game against the Memphis Grizzlies in Los Angeles Reuters

On national television Monday night, Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins said, “Chris (Paul) does a good job of flopping.” After the game when I asked a couple Grizzlies players about it, there was a nod of acknowledgment followed by a refusal to discuss the topic. It felt like they were under orders (and frustrated after an overtime loss).

Wednesday, Hollins has backed off his comments, speaking to Kevin Arnovitz of ESPN.com.

“Flopping was the wrong word to use,” Hollins said. “At that moment, I couldn’t think of a better word. It was a first-quarter interview on national TV, but I retract that word. But he’s good at drawing fouls and putting you in a position where he’ll get you behind him and see you. He’ll stop and make you run into him. Chris is just a great player.”

Personally, I would go with flopping. Paul is an elite player who is great at drawing fouls, he does put defenders in awkward positions. He also flops.

O.J. Mayo was willing to discuss it with ESPN.

“Both teams are trying to play physical, but one team is a little better at acting than the other team,” Mayo said. “Those guys do flop. They’re great players. It’s working. They’re getting to the free-throw line. They’re able to put their opponent in foul trouble. If that’s what it takes to get the job done, I guess we all need to start doing it.”

And the Clippers are not denying they sell calls.

“I think so,” Griffin said. “It’s one of those things where every play means a lot. You never know what one play can do, so you’re making sure you’re getting every possession you can.”

Griffin, Paul and a lot of the Clippers get fouled a lot and get fouled hard. It’s a byproduct of their aggressive style. But they also sell those fouls to draw calls. You can see it during game replays. And you can also bet the NBA referees — a savvier bunch that most fans realize — know who embellishes.

All of this by the way is moot for Game 5 — the Clippers are not up 3-1 because Chris Paul flops, they are up 3-1 because he has been the best player in this series and by far the best in the fourth quarter. This has been a close, hard-fought series where Paul and the Clippers have executed better at the end.

If Memphis does not change that around Wednesday, they will be watching the Clippers in a flop-fest against San Antonio very soon.

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