Published on Apr 23, 2013
THE FACTS: When the going gets tough, few players in NBA history have been tougher to beat than Los Angeles Clippers point guard Chris Paul. He proved that again Monday night, banking in the game-winner with a tenth of a second remaining against the visiting Memphis Grizzlies and lifting his team to a 93-91 victory in Game 2 of the Western Conference first-round series at Staples Center.
THE STAT: The Clippers took a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series, just the second time in franchise history they won the first two games of a playoff series. The other year was 2006, when then eventually beat the Nuggets in five games.
QUOTABLE: "All we did was protect our home court. We did what were supposed to do,"
--Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro
TURNING POINT: The Grizzlies trailed by as much as 12 in the fourth quarter and were still behind by seven with 3:46 remaining before Mike Conley and Darrell Arthur scored all their team's points in a 9-2 run that got Memphis even with 1:37 left. Paul made a tough 15-footer 17 seconds later to put the Clippers back on top by two, but Marc Gasol got free for a dunk with 13 seconds on the game clock to knot the score at 91. The Clippers called timeout and, to no surprise, Paul was isolated out top against the Grizzlies' best perimeter defender, Tony Allen. Paul drove to his right, found enough of a seam just outside the lane to hit a pull-up, four-foot bank. The referees reviewed the shot and determined it came in time, leaving 0.1 on the clock. Memphis tried a desperate inbounds lob toward its rim but the ball was swatted away.
QUOTABLE II: "If you're competitive, that's what you love, and Paul loves that part."
-- Vinny Del Negro
HOT: After shooting 1-for-5 in the first half and scoring five points, Paul shot 8-for-12 in the second half and scored 19 while nobody else on the Clippers had more than seven during that time. Blake Griffin and Jamal Crawford carried L.A. during the first half. Griffin scored 15 of his 21 points in the opening half and Crawford had 13 of his 15, both combining to shoot 13-for-19 in the opening 24 minutes. The Grizzlies received solid contributions from their starting guards. Conley finished with 28 points and nine assists and Allen had 16 points and 10 rebounds, which matched his season high.
NOT: Memphis starting forward Tayshaun Prince was supposed to be the difference-maker in these playoffs after the Grizzlies dealt leading scorer Rudy Gay at the trade deadline for Prince, who's known for his stiff defense and unselfish leadership. The Grizzlies could have used more points from Prince or less shot attempts, as he finished 2-for-10 with six points. The Clippers didn't help themselves with their wayward 3-point shooting. They missed 13 of their 15 attempts from beyond the arc, including all eight in the second half.
GOOD MOVE: Clippers back-up guard Eric Bledsoe didn't back up his 7-for-7 shooting performance from Game 1, but he did spark the crowd and give the Clippers their first double-digit lead with a powerful dunk with 10:47 left in the game. With the starters resting for L.A., forward Lamar Odom had the ball on the right wing. He faked a pass to Bledsoe in the corner, then Bledsoe made a backdoor cut and Odom hit him in stride. Bledsoe rose up and stuffed the ball through the rim, extending the lead to 81-71 and reminding the Grizzlies that Bledsoe can't be left unguarded.
BAD MOVE: Memphis forward Zach Randolph just can't stay out of foul trouble in this series. He did a better job of avoiding early foul trouble like he had in Game 1, but for the second straight game he and Griffin were whistled for double fouls, this time midway through the third quarter. Seconds later, he was whistled for his fourth foul, forcing him to leave a tied game with 5:41 left in the third. Randolph was held below his season averages for the second straight game, finishing with 13 points and eight rebounds.
NOTABLE: Clippers center DeAndre Jordan had four of his team's 10 blocked shots. ... After outrebounding the Grizzlies, 47-23, in Game 1, they finished with a 40-38 edge in Game 2. ... L.A.'s bench outscored the Grizzlies, 30-11.
UP NEXT: For the Clippers, Thursday @ Memphis, Saturday @ Memphis, April 30 vs. Memphis. For the Grizzlies, Thursday vs. Los Angeles, Saturday vs. Los Angeles, April 30 @ Los Angeles.