Sugene Lee

Posts Tagged ‘Memphis’

“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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Regular season ends, Playoffs begin

In NBA: LA Clippers on April 29, 2012 at 4:24 pm

The 2011-2012 regular season has been one heck of a roller-coaster ride for the Clippers. March has been a horrendous month as they had 20 games, including their second back-to-back-to-back that they lost. After these three consecutive losses, Vinny DelNegro was on the “hot-seat” with thoughts of him being fired any minute of the day. But, that’s when things started to turn around. Their last five games of March were at home and all ended with W’s and Vinny was safe. Not only did they win their last five in March, but they continued to go on a hot run, beating teams like Dallas, OKC (twice), and Denver. Then there’s that whole roller-coaster ride the Clippers have been on, as they lose their last two games and lose home-court advantage to a Memphis team who had a piece of cake schedule to end their regular season. Not only that, but they have also been taking a lot of criticism, particularly Blake on him flopping, staring, getting away with “offensive fouls,” etc.

Now, maybe I’m talking as a fan right now, but despite the Clippers starting their first game on the road, I have a very good feeling they are going to steal this game away. There are too many doubters saying that Memphis is going to win this series in account with what they had done to the Spurs last year. I’m not saying Memphis is not a good team, I think they are a great grind-it-out, defensive team and have a great chance at winning the series, but with a Chris Paul who goes into a whole different level in the playoffs, it won’t be that easy. Tony Allen, arguably one of the best perimeter defenders in the league will have a hard task of containing the playoff Chris Paul as well. Not only Chris Paul, but with the way Randy Foye has been playing, making the most three’s in the league after the All-Star Break, and Blake Griffin being Blake Griffin, it won’t be an easy series.

What Will Hurt the Clippers

The Clippers aren’t even close to being a perfect team and have a lot to fix. One of the most important things that will hurt the Clippers is going to be their free-throw shooting. With one of the worst free-throw shooting percentage in the league, the playoffs are going to be full of hard fouls and if Blake, who averages close to most free throws in the league, can’t make those, it’s going to hurt him and his team, big time.

Perimeter defense is also going to hurt the Clippers as they go into the playoffs. Luckily, the Grizzlies are one of the worst in 3-point shooting, but that doesn’t mean it’s not going to hurt the Clippers as any team can get hot behind the arc. Their size, especially at the three, is no match for an athletic Rudy Gay. He will blow by Caron Butler at will.

Stopping the Grizzlies’ big men, Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol. Blake isn’t the best defender and if Randolph decides to go on a tear, as he did in the last playoffs, this series isn’t going to last very long. DeAndre Jordan will also need to step out and defend Gasol, who can easily shoot the 15 footer and bounce-pass the ball without you even knowing.

Third “go-to” guy. Throughout the season, the Clippers haven’t had a third consistent go-to guy outside of Chris and Blake. Caron Butler was that guy in the beginning of the season and have just been up and down after Chauncey Billups went down, then it was Mo Williams who seems to be fairly consistent, but the problem with Williams is that if he doesn’t provide instant offense, he’s about as useless as Reggie Evans is on the offensive end. As of late, it’s been Randy Foye, who’s been on a tear with his three’s, but the question is, can he, who’s never been in the playoffs, do that consistently?

Experience. No explanation needed.