May 12, 2012, 1:26 AM EDT
In the first four games of this series, Chris Paul owned the fourth quarter, while at the same time the Grizzlies would get away from their game plan of pounding the Clippers inside with Zach Randolph. It’s why Los Angeles had a 3-1 series lead.
There will be a Game 7 Sunday because that script has flipped.
Paul, playing through an injured hip flexor, was a shadow of himself in the fourth quarter of Game 6 Friday — 0-1 shooting, no assists and two key turnovers when the score was 80-80 that led to a 5-0 Memphis run and lead the Grizzlies never relinquished. On the other end, Randolph has 7 points and 4 offensive rebounds in the fourth quarter.
The result was a 90-88 Grizzlies win that brings them back from 3-1 and forces a Game 7 in Memphis Sunday.
And it is the status of Chris Paul’s hip and Blake Griffin’s knee that may have the biggest say in the outcome of Game 7. If it is the same Paul and Griffin, the Clippers are in a world of trouble on the road.
“I started off the game not sure about (his injury), but I can’t do that Sunday,” Paul said. “Sunday you got out there scrap, claw, whatever.”
Paul was clearly hurting early on and was tentative running the offense. Griffin wasn’t the same guy (but did hit a couple baseline 20 footers Memphis would have let him take all night healthy). The Grizzlies were slow to really try to exploit the pair but did eventually, went on a 14-4 run and took a little lead.
Looking for something, Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro switched up and went with an energy lineup that included Reggie Evans and Eric Bledsoe. It wasn’t pretty, but they were outworking Memphis all over the court. It changed the energy on the floor and in the building. Memphis responded to it with some ridiculous passes and turnovers — 13 in the first half — that kept the Clippers close when Memphis should have pulled away.
Clipper fans have taken to Reggie Evans as their fan favorite — they love everything about him. They love his energy, his flops, his ugly offense and all. Fans love a guy that just plays harder than everyone else, and nobody in the league comes in and sells it harder than Evans.
There was a real sense of hope when Paul returned and looked like his old self at the end of the second quarter, with penetration and smart passes. But that was a mirage.
The third quarter saw Memphis get back to its game plan of going inside — Marc Gasol had 23 points for the second straight game — however the Clippers energy level remained high and the game stayed close. It was tied 66-66 entering fourth.
The Clippers at one point went on 10-0 run sparked by Eric Bledsoe and had an eight-point lead, but Memphis answered with a 10-0 run sparked by Rudy Gay knocking down shots you know coach Lionel Hollins didn’t want him to take.
When it was tight late it was the Grizzlies executed and the Clippers could not — Paul was being cut off in the lane, Randy Foye was taking leaning jumpers (and missing), Foye was also stepping out of bounds on rebounds, Eric Bledsoe was taking the most shots (five), and the bounces and calls went Memphis’ way mostly. Meanwhile the Grizzlies for once stayed true to who they are and just kept going inside.
“It boiled down to just understanding their sets, going through our guys who had it going, execution on the offensive end, from the plays coach drew up…” Tony Allen said. “Down the stretch we just clawed and clawed.”
Leading into Game 7 the players are going to talk about clawing and executing and all of it. Both teams will talk about their role players stepping up (that usually happens for the home team in the playoffs).
But it will be the status of Paul’s hip and Griffin’s knee that may have the biggest say. If CP3 is himself again, all bets are off.
May 22, 2013, 1:56 PM EDT
There is no need to panic Spurs fans. Not yet. Tony Parker has been playing through a sore calf for a while now and playing well — to the tune of 14 points and 18 assists in the Spurs overtime win Tuesday night. But after the game he was limping a little around the locker…
May 22, 2013, 1:09 PM EDT
Looks like Kevin Love will not have to do any recruiting after all. After saying before, during and immediately after Team USA won the gold medal in London last summer that he was done as the head coach of the team, Mike Krzyzewski has had a change of heart. Coach K will be back to…
May 22, 2013, 12:55 PM EDT
We said as much in our story telling you Vinny Del Negro was not coming back to the Clippers — this was what Chris Paul wanted. Clippers owner Donald Sterling personally liked Del Negro a lot and was his biggest supporter in the organization, so something had to override that. It was free agent to…
May 22, 2013, 11:54 AM EDT
If you want to know what happens when you to right at Indiana’s Roy Hibbert at the rim, watch the video above or ask Carmelo Anthony — Hibbert sent him back dramatically in Game 6 last round. It changed the momentum of the game that eventually sent the Knicks fishing for the summer. So, LeBron…
May 22, 2013, 11:14 AM EDT
Whenever the Memphis Grizzlies’ season ends — which could be sooner rather than later if they don’t start cutting off Tony Parker at the point of attack, but that’s another post — Lionel Hollins is going to be a popular guy. Hollins’ contract is up as coach of the end of this season, and while…
May 22, 2013, 10:25 AM EDT
Who do you want to believe? Monday came a report from the very reliable Dave McMenamin at ESPNLosAngeles.com that in his exit interview Dwight Howard expressed frustration with coach Mike D’Antoni to GM Mitch Kupchak. Which isn’t hard to believe if you watched the Lakers at all this year. But when Kevin Ding of the…
May 22, 2013, 8:45 AM EDT
NEW YORK – Kevin Love and Flip Saunders shared lunch yesterday, as both were headed to the NBA Draft lottery that night. They talk about the same issues that dominate their bi-daily conversations – leadership, expectations, workouts and, as Saunders put it, “more than anything, just about the vision that we have and how we…
May 22, 2013, 8:44 AM EDT
The top pick in the NBA draft hasn’t been traded in two decades — elite talent wins in this league and you get that by being bad, winning the lottery and drafting it. But there is no elite talent in this year’s draft class. So…. It’s been said by people around the league for a…
May 22, 2013, 8:12 AM EDT
Tony Parker takes what you give him. If you want him to score, he can do that — he is quick getting to the rim, has a solid jumper and still has the best floater in the game. But if you take away his shot he will beat you with the pass. And he beat…
May 22, 2013, 2:57 AM EDT
That was more like what we expected out of this series — close, intense, physical. Well, it was close for the final 17 minutes (just ignore the first 36), but in the end the Spurs got the win and are up 2-0 in the series. Here are three takeaways from this game. • Yes, Tony…
May 22, 2013, 1:32 AM EDT
The Spurs looked every bit as dominant through three quarters of Game 2 against the Grizzlies as they did in completing a rout of their opponent in the first game of the series. Memphis couldn’t score, Tony Parker was carving up the Grizzlies’ defense on the way to a career-high 18 assists, and San Antonio…
Tony Allen flops on flagrant foul from Manu Ginobili that helped Grizzlies force overtime in Game 2 (VIDEO)
May 22, 2013, 12:45 AM EDT
Late in the fourth quarter of Game 2 between the Spurs and the Grizzlies, San Antonio was clinging to a four-point lead with under 30 seconds remaining. Manu Ginobili was double-teamed by Zach Randolph and Tony Allen, and lost the ball to Randolph, who flipped it ahead to Allen for what was sure to be…
May 21, 2013, 11:36 PM EDT
Two years ago, Nick Gilbert made famous his catch phrase – “What’s not to like?” – when his father’s Cavaliers won the NBA Draft lottery with Nick as the team’s on-stage representative. Since, Nick has been asked many times, “What’s not to like?” by interviewers who expect a response without considering that the phrase is…
May 21, 2013, 11:13 PM EDT
NEW YORK – If Mike Krzyzewski is unsure whether to return as USA Basketball’s coach for the 2016 Olympics, would Kevin Love try to convince the Duke coach to return? “Of course,” Love said. Love said he’s been in “constant contact” with Men’s National Team Director Sean Ford about Krzyzewski’s status. “I’ve really enjoyed my…
May 21, 2013, 11:00 PM EDT
That sequence — seven missed shots inside five feet in a row — pretty much sums up the first half for Memphis. Tony Allen has his shot rejected blocked. But he got the ball back then missed a bunny. Zach Randolph came in and missed a tip in (he was 1-of-10 shooting in the first…
May 21, 2013, 9:18 PM EDT
You need some luck if you’re going to build a winner through the lottery (just ask the Thunder). Cleveland has gotten it’s share luck lately. Or, it’s just Karma balancing itself out, if you prefer. For the second time in three years the Cleveland Cavaliers have got the balls to bounce their way and have…
May 21, 2013, 8:08 PM EDT
While the defensive minded teams are left (not so coincidentally) and that has some fans missing the flavor of the day in the NBA playoffs (Curry?), there have been some good plays. So for a little fun, here are the top 10 dunks of the second round of the NBA playoffs as compiled by the…
May 21, 2013, 7:44 PM EDT
UPDATE 7:44 pm: Michael Jordan stepped on stage and made it official. Saying he wanted to “bring the buzz back” to Charlotte, he confirmed that the Bobcats will change their names to the Hornets. The goal is to have that in place by the start of the 2014-15 season (they will play one last season…
May 21, 2013, 6:54 PM EDT
And then there were four… With the NBA down to the final four in the conference finals, today Kay Adams and I talk about the Heat and the Pacers. The central matchup to me is Roy Hibbert and Chris Bosh — how much of a disruptive force can Hibbert be defensively if he is watching…
May 21, 2013, 5:28 PM EDT
Bryan Colangelo is still going to collect a paycheck from the Raptors. But he’s not going to have sway over the basketball side of the operations — and that’s what matters most to Raptors fans. Tim Leiweke, the new CEO of Raptors owner Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, confirmed previous reports Tuesday on a conference…
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