Chris Paul is able to break free and catch a short pass at the top of the key from Jamal Crawford. There are just about 7 seconds remaining in the game. Tony Allen, perhaps the best one-on-one defender in the league, is guarding Paul. Paul frees up some space to dribble right and gets a few steps past the free throw line. Paul throws up a floater that cleanly banks in just before Darrell Arthur gets there to affect the shot. The Clippers win Game 2!
That shot alone may have sucked all the life out of the Grizzlies. Chris Paul spoiled it all for them after the Grizzlies did a great job bouncing back in the 4th. But the wrong guy had it at the wrong time for the defense. The right guy had it at the right time for the offense. That is Chris Paul, the greatest point guard I have ever seen in my 20 years of life.
Mike Conley deserves a lot of credit for putting on a show against Chris Paul. Conley’s 28 points and 9 assists carried Memphis’ offense throughout much of the game. But stats are irrelevant when it comes down to the last shot of the game. The man with the ball in his hands can wipe out everything that happened before that. That is just what Chris Paul did on the beautiful bank shot that gave the Grizzlies a 2-0 lead against the Memphis Grizzlies.
Memphis played with very high urgency in the 4th quarter. They held the Clippers to just 18 points in those 12 minutes. Perhaps, the problem was what they didn’t do before. The Grizzlies were outscored 24-18 in the 2nd quarter. You can’t always expect to win coming from behind. That especially goes against this deep and talented Clipper team.
The Clippers managed to outrebound the tough Grizzlies for the second straight game. The Grizzlies finished the regular season as the best defensive team in the West. That hasn’t bothered the Clippers. They have willingly matched the physicality of the Memphis Grizzlies and set a tone for this series.
The Clippers have excelled in these first two games behind the energy of their home crowd. The crowd’s intensity and high noise level has motivated the team. The fans love to see CP3 and Blake Griffin run the floor. Jamal Crawford is urged to fire up shots when hearing the noise of the crowd.
Paul was clearly the MVP of this game with 24 points and 9 assists, including the game-winner. Blake Griffin also had an efficient game with 21 points and 8 rebounds. Griffin was not afraid to attack the Grizzlies’ defense. He used his strength and athleticism to make some big plays.
Jamal Crawford’s surge in the 2nd quarter was a big difference in this game. Crawford took advantage of the fact that Tony Allen wasn’t in to guard him. Crawford fires up shots even with Allen draped all over him. Therefore, there’s no reason to think he wouldn’t shoot more without Allen in the game. At the end of the day, you can point this out as a coaching mistake by the Memphis Grizzlies.
The Grizzlies now go to Memphis facing a discouraging 2-0 deficit. Memphis now needs to take advantage of their home court. Anything less than two wins will be a troubling sign for them.