There were no 27 point comebacks on this night.
The Memphis Grizzlies played efficient basketball down the stretch as they held off a late Clippers rally to defeat Los Angeles 105-98 at home to tie their best of 7 series at 1 game a piece.
THE CLIPPERS DIG THEIR OWN GRAVE
It’s hard to win a playoff game when you turn the ball over 20 times.
The final score may not indicate it, but the Clippers played some very sloppy basketball in game 2. The Grizzlies stepped up their defensive intensity and took Los Angeles out of their comfort zone.
Memphis outrebounded the Clippers 37 to 28 and 16 to 4 on the offensive glass. Blake Griffin (22 points, 9 rebounds and 4 turnovers on 9 of 15 shooting) looked very unsettled when taking the ball to the basket on this night. The Grizzlies post players were noticeably more physical with Griffin and forced the all-star to second guess every single shot attempt down low. On most cases, Griffin would look to dish the ball out to the perimeter instead of attempting the shot.
Chris Paul was his usual “Chris Paul self”. He finished the game with 29 points, 6 assists and 5 steals. He did however contribute to 5 of the teams 20 turnovers.
The team’s ability to hit from long-range kept this game close in the fourth quarter. Chris Paul and sixth man Nick Young (11 points, 1 turnover) combined for 7 of the teams 9 three-point makes.
Los Angeles should be satisfied with the split they got in Memphis. The Clippers weren’t the greatest of road teams during the regular season (16-17), but still managed to secure a road victory against one of the better home teams in this years playoffs. They are definitely in the driver’s seat heading back to L.A.
On a side note, just how nasty was this DeAndre Jordan dunk?
TOTAL TEAM EFFORT FROM MEMPHIS
The Grizzlies did just about everything right in game 2.
Memphis had 2 days to dwell over their game 1 defeat at the hands of the Clippers. Losing a game by blowing a 20+ point third quarter lead could have been extremely demoralizing to this roster. Fortunately for Memphis fans, this team came ready to play and looked like an entirely different team in the fourth quarter compared to their previous outing.
O.J Mayo put on a spectacular performance off the bench. He led the team in scoring with 20 points and contributed 4 rebounds and a couple of steals. What probably went unnoticed to most fans was the way he contained Chris Paul on defense in the fourth quarter. He matched Paul’s intensity on offense (10 of his 20 points in the final quarter) and was equally effective on the defensive side of the ball guarding the best player in this series.
The free throw disparity was again a huge factor in this game. The Grizzlies went to the line 19 more times than the Clippers (39 to 18). They also went 6 of 10 from the charity stripe in the final 48 seconds to put this game out of reach for good.
The depth of the Grizzlies roster shined brightly in this one. 6 players finished in double-digit scoring (Conley, Randolph, Speights, Mayo, Gay, Allen). A majority (basically 99.9%) of the Grizzlies bench production came from O.J Mayo and Mareese Speights who combined for 31 of the 32 points from Memphis reserves.
It was good to see Zach Randolph have a solid night from the field after struggling in game 1 (6 points on 3 for 13 shooting). He finished the game with 15 points and 8 rebounds while hitting 6 of his 11 shot attempts. He appeared to be more confident in the paint and showed a willingness to attack the basket more when challenged by Blake Griffin in the key.
QUOTES OF THE GAME
”We felt like we should have won the game tonight. Our turnovers, we gave them 25 points off our turnovers. You can’t win a game like that. We definitely feel confident going home with a split, but in reality we should have two games right now.” – Clippers center DeAndre Jordan (yahoo)
”That was tough to lose in the fashion we did, then have to sit there and watch it on ESPN every day and the miraculous comeback and that stuff. That’s what kind of had us come in here today and play like we did…. We didn’t have any lapses like we did before.” - Grizzlies forward Rudy Gay (yahoo)
TWEET OF THE GAME
OJ Mayo is playing so well, the Grizzlies just traded him to Indiana after the deadline again.
— Taco Trey Kerby (@treykerby) May 3, 2012
– I am a huge follower of the WWE, so I thought it was pretty damn cool when Jerry “The King” Lawler gave a piledriver (a banned move in this era of wrestling) to that Clippers fan in the front row. The NBA on TNT halftime crew clearly have love for professional wrestling as well. Did Charles Barkley hint at a future appearance on Monday Night Raw? I wish. John Cena and Charles Barkley vs Brock Lesnar and Shaq anyone?
Game 3 - Sat. May 5, Memphis at L.A. Clippers, 4:30 p.m., ESPN
Christopher Walder is a sports blogger and lead editor for Sir Charles in Charge. You may follow him on Twitter @WalderSports