Sugene Lee

“Miracle in Memphis” happened, what’s going to happen next?

In NBA: LA Clippers on May 3, 2012 at 12:17 am

I said I had a feeling the Clippers would steal the first game, but there was no way I would’ve thought they would steal the first game coming down from a 27 point deficit.

Most people watching the game probably thought the game was over after the first quarter as it ended with the Grizzlies up 41-26. Memphis was strolling through the first three and a half quarters doing whatever they pleased, shooting over 50% and draining three’s without a hand in their face. The Clippers’ superstars, Chris Paul and Blake Griffin, were held to 3 points and 3 turnovers combined in the first half.

With 8 minutes left in the 4th quarter, Chris Paul entered the game, down 24 points. Then, the chipping away began. Reggie Evans anchored the Clippers defensive intensity and physicality, grabbing 13 rebounds in 20 minutes and shut down big man, Zach Randolph.

Memphis took their feet off the pedal and thought they had game 1 in the books. So did everybody else. Televisions were changed to different channels, people were going to bed, and everyone said the Clippers were going to get swept. Even I, a fan who’s watched nearly all the games this season, asked why there was so much time left at the 8 minute mark of the 4th quarter. I wanted the misery to be over with and watch a great comeback game in game 2 of the series, but that came sooner, a few days sooner. The chipping, defensive stops, and three-pointers came so slowly that nobody else saw it coming until Nick Young made three 3’s in a row, cutting the lead down to three. Then, Blake Griffin made the two most important free throws of his career and were down one. Guess who put the lay-up in to put the Clippers up by one? No, you didn’t guess it. It was Reggie Evans off the pick and roll with Chris Paul. With less than a minute left, Memphis comes down the floor and gets the mismatch with Chris Paul and scores easily. Time out is called. Chris Paul brings the ball into the half-court with Tony Allen on him. Guarding too hard, Allen fouls Chris Paul who then makes another crucial two free throws. Clippers up one, again. With about 26 seconds left, Rudy Gay has the ball in his hands with Kenyon Martin as the defender. At 9 seconds, Martin takes the foul to give and it starts again. Gay takes the pull-up jumper with the clock winding down and hits the front of the rim. Too short. Too late. Blake Griffin grabs the rebound and throws it away to Bledsoe and the buzzer beats at 99-98. The Clippers just made the biggest comeback in playoff history.

You can ask Chris Paul what happened in the 4th quarter and how they came back, but he wouldn’t be able to tell you. What he is able to tell you is if that happened again in game 2, Memphis would either increase the lead to 35 or 40, or the Clippers would come within 8 and call it a good fight. The Clippers may have had the worst start of the season, but Memphis had a first quarter that might never happen again, so they cancel out.

All I can expect from the second game is that it will be a grind out game for a full 48 minutes. But, I can say that I feel like the Clippers will take game 2, too.

Why?

Chris Paul was no Chris Paul in those first three quarters. In fact, he was making rookie mistakes and playing out of control.

Blake Griffin was also not Blake Griffin.

Memphis, one of the worst offensive teams, will not be shooting lights out from behind the arc.

Of course, the Clippers can always cause self-destruction and give this game away, but can anyone expect Chris Paul to let that happen to his team again? I don’t think so.

It’s going to be a good one. I can guarantee that much.

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