Tied 91-91 with eight seconds, the Los Angeles Clippers put their hopes in Chris Paul and well:
Video via @BlazersEdge
Having a superstar in this series is starting to look like the best thing that can happen to the Los Angeles Clippers. Down the stretch Chris Paul (4-7 for 8 points) and Mike Conley (3-5 for 10 points) were going punch for punch in the fourth quarter, but it came down to one possession and the #PointGod capitalized on the opportunities and walked away with the victory.
Lost in the hype of a fantastic last quarter were the first half performances by Blake Griffin and Jamal Crawford. While Blake Griffin put on a clinic on the block with 15 first half points, Jamal Crawford kept the crowd in the game with jumpshots he probably wouldn’t make on a night to night basis. He finished the first half with 13 points on 6-7 shooting.
On the Memphis Grizzlies side of the ball, Mike Conley and Tony Allen looked like completely different players from Game 1. Both players scored career-high in most points in a playoff game (Conley: 28, Allen: 16) and were, at times, the driving force to keeping their team in the game. Marc Gasol finished the game with 17 points and 7 rebounds including the an easy dunk to tie the game before Chris hit the go-ahead jumper.
Similar to Game 1, the Clippers took advantage of the massive bench advantage they hold over the Grizz. Eric Bledsoe (went 10-10 before missing his first shot in the playoffs) continues to be a huge mismatch for Memphis. With Lionel Hollins leaving Tony Wroten on the bench they have on one to remotely guard him when Conley’s not on the floor. It’s been noted that he’s the X-Factor this series, but they don’t have an answer for him in the open floor. The Barnes-Bledsoe-Odom-Hollins-Crawford lineup, in 11 minutes played, posted an offensive rating of 96.5 and a defensive rating of 64.3 (!!!). Even Lamar Odom contributed to meaningful minutes including great defense in the post, some excellent passes on the break and an amazing block on Zach Randolph that led to two points. They managed to outscore Memphis’ bench 30-11.
Despite playing an excellent game, going into Game 3 at the FedEx Forum there are still some questions about this Clippers team and their head coach Vinny Del Negro. When not running on the break, the Clippers often looked pedestrian in the half-court when Chris Paul wasn’t being the best player on the floor. Limiting Bledsoe’s minutes to play Chauncey Billups at the end of the game didn’t work well either, but the end result will cloud over that personnel move. Also, Del Negro resorted DeAndre Jordan back to his regular season minutes, only playing him 23 overall minutes and nine in the entire second half. His presence in the paint may have made things harder on Mike Conley in the paint and stifled Marc Gasol’s activity on the lower block.
Del Negro’s short-comings didn’t affect the game’s outcome, but it’ll be something to watch heading into Game 3. But if Chris Paul continues his brilliance and “A Tribe Called Bench” continues to outplay the Grizzlies’ bench there should be minimal worry about the rest of this series. Don’t expect Memphis to roll over at home though. It’ll be a tough one.
Player of the Game:
Chris Paul: 9-17 24 points, 4 rebounds, 9 assists, 1 turnover and the game winner