After bringing the Grizzlies back to within 1 point with 16 seconds left, Memphis forward Rudy Gay missed a game-winning buzzer beater as the Clippers barely held on to win game 3 87-86 in Los Angeles.
This was the Clippers first postseason victory at home in over 6 years.
MEMPHIS CAN’T CLOSE
Whether it’s the Grizzlies blowing leads, the Clippers making big stands or vice versa, nothing has come easy in this series.
The Memphis Grizzlies held a 71-64 lead at the end of the third quarter. The Clippers then went on to outscore Memphis 23-15 in the fourth to pull out the series leading victory.
For the second time in as many games, the Grizzlies couldn’t find a way to score in the final quarter. In game 1 (the now infamous Clippers comeback), Memphis went 1 for 14 from the field. In game 3, they barely improved on that mark shooting only 3 for 14.
In retrospect, this series should be 3-0 for the Grizzlies. Their inability to close out games and shoot efficiently from the field in the clutch has resulted in 2 blown leads. In postseason basketball, that is simply unacceptable.
After scoring 20 points in game 2 off the bench, Memphis guard OJ Mayo went ice cold in Los Angeles. He shot 1 for 8 from the field and finished with just as many turnovers (5) as he did points (6).
It’s not as if he was getting a lot of help from his teammates anyways. The team turned the ball over 17 times and shot a lousy 40% from the field.
Memphis should be thankful that the Clippers can’t hit free throws to save their life. Los Angeles missed 5 of their last 6 free throw attempts including 2 key misses from guard Eric Bledsoe in the final seconds.
Rudy Gay made it interesting with his 2 three-pointers in the final 30 seconds, but this game really shouldn’t have come down to a last valiant effort. The Grizzlies blew it again.
Memphis may not know how to close out games, but they appear to be experts in kneeing you in the nether regions.
CLIPPERS CROWD MAKES A DIFFERENCE
No disrespect to the amazing fans of Memphis Tennessee, but the Staples Center crowd was on another level today. Playoff basketball is a rare thing in Clipper country. Those fans were hungry, excited and ready to see a meaningful basketball game for the franchise.
Just watch as the fans in attendance go nuts as Blake Griffin dunks the ball at the buzzer before the end of the half.
Griffin had himself a solid outing finishing with 17 points and 4 rebounds. He showed a toughness down low that was actually very refreshing to see. His wars with Zach Randolph in the paint this series have been physical and sometimes overly aggressive. It appears that Blake is finally ready to stand up for himself after being pushed around for the majority of the regular season and this season.
Clippers guard Chris Paul was phenomenal yet again. CP3 finished game 3 with 24 points, 11 assists, 4 rebounds and 4 steals.
This game 3 victory is huge for the Clippers, but something has to be done about that DREADFUL free throw shooting. 13 of 30 and 5 of 6 misses in the final stretch? That’s going to come back and bite them in the butt down the road. Bledsoe, Griffin, Jordan, Evans and Martin all shot less than 65% from the charity stripe during the regular season. These are just some of the guys that are on the court for L.A in the fourth quarter of games. If that ball isn’t in the hands of Chris Paul 100% of the time when the moment comes for the Grizzlies (or any other team) to foul, the Clippers will be in serious trouble.
QUOTES OF THE GAME
“It was unbelievable. The fans were on their feet and with the energy through our warm-ups, we had no choice but to play hard.” – Clippers forward Blake Griffin
”We missed 17 free throws?’ We did? It shows how much fight we have. It’s unacceptable.”- Clippers guard Chris Paul
TWEET OF THE GAME
Chris Paul outsmarts the Grizzlies not unlike how Ferris Bueller openly ridiculed Ed Rooney with a delightful barrage of intelligent antics.
— Not Bill Walton (@NotBillWalton) May 5, 2012
– Why on Earth was Caron Butler starting this game? Why was he even on the court in the first place? He has a broken hand! The Dallas Mavericks didn’t need him to win a championship last season. Guys like Randy Foye and Nick Young can easily step in and make up for his missed offensive production. I don’t get it.
– I love Billy Crystal. He was at the game today sitting courtside (as always). Random? Probably. I just find him to be hilarious.
Game 4 - Mon. May 7, Memphis at L.A. Clippers, TBD
Christopher Walder is a sports blogger and lead editor for Sir Charles in Charge. You may follow him on Twitter @WalderSports