EDITOR’S NOTE: Thanks to TNT and Nate Robinson I missed most of the first half due, so I’ll only speak on what I saw with something else coming later.
Los Angeles Clippers 83 – Memphis Grizzlies 104
The Clippers were lucky they only lost by 21 points.
The series is only 2-2 so there’s no reason to break out the panic meter, but tonight showed why most people question the Clippers as a NBA championship contender. The only reason they may reach the Western Conference is because of the injury suffered to Russell Westbrook.
Chris Paul and Blake Griffin led to team tonight with both scoring 19 points, but outside of the two stars no one played up to par. Caron Butler and Chauncey Billups went a combined 0/10 for zero points, DeAndre Jordan only played 17 total minutes while scoring 2 points and the Clips bench who were phenomenal in games 1 and 2 displayed sub-par performances when needed the most.
Even in a performance that left more to be desired, the Clippers bench 43-40. This is fine if the bench has an outlier of a performance, but this wasn’t the case.
While the Clippers starters struggled, the Grizzlies starters put together their best performance of the series including 48 points and 22 rebounds combined from Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph. Tayshaun Prince finally showed up to the playoffs with 15 points and 6 rebounds and point guard Mike Conley continued his impressive first round performance with 15 points and 13 assists.
Despite what the final score says this was a close game. Entering the fourth quarter the Clippers were down 4, but things fell apart soon after. Chris Paul struggled against the bigger defender in Quincy Pondexter, which has been Lionel Hollin‘s biggest adjustment from game 1-2 to 3-4. And Vinny Del Negro went against his normal fourth quarter rotation going with Eric Bledsoe over Chauncey Billups, something many have asked for and it didn’t work. Bledsoe’s inability to spread the floor came back to bite the team and he was unable to hit the jumpers the defense gave him (0-3 from three).
Now it’s back to the Staples Center tied 2-2. Based on what was seen in the last two Clipper performances, it’s not say to decide how things are going to go. Del Negro’s rotation are still questionable (Turiaf/Hollins over Jordan?, when to play Billups/Bledsoe) and the Grizzlies have been on a three game stride. If it wasn’t for Paul’s heroics in Game 3 this series may be 3-1 Grizzlies with a chance to end it all in Game 6 . I predicted the series to go six games and based off the first two games, it looked like that prediction was correct. Now it looks like these two teams are headed for another deadlock 7-game series.