The Inconceivable Comeback in Memphis

30 04 2012


The phrase “You have to see it to believe it” has never been more applicable after what the Clippers just did Sunday night.

95-71. This was the lead for the Memphis Grizzlies over the Los Angeles Clippers with eight minutes to go in Game 1 of their first round playoff series.

Anybody that said the Clippers had life in them or even had a chance in this series would simply be considered a fool for holding such a crazy notion. Seriously, was this team down by more than 20 points going to be able to win a game in this series? The Grizzlies looked to be on their way to winning their first playoff game in the second straight season as absolutely everything was going their way.

Then, it happened. Blake Griffin happened. Nick Young happened. Chris Paul happened.

As Memphis began to fall in love with isolation jump shots after an easy game up to their 24-point fourth quarter lead, Los Angeles kept fighting. Nick Young, Eric Bledsoe and Reggie Evans came in off the bench during crunch time with some great energy and big plays.

With the score at 96-84 at the 2:57 mark, Young strung together three straight three-pointers as the Grizzlies continued to shoot jumpers.

This was their biggest fault in the meltdown. Going through Marc Gasol really helped their offense flow through the first three and a half quarters. They stopped doing this as they became comfortable with their lead and looked to play not to lose once the Clippers began to make their push.

After Bledsoe saved the ball from going out of bounds and Griffin was fouled, the 52-percent free throw shooter knocked down two big free throws.

On their next offensive possession, Reggie Evans put in a layup off a Paul feed. Those Clippers took their first lead of the game at 97-96.

Rudy Gay made a (you guessed it) jumper that allowed FedEx Forum to exhale for just a second. After a Tony Allen reach in, CP3 calmly sunk two free throws to take back the late lead.

With nine seconds left in the game, Gay wound down the clock, leaving the fate of the game on his shoulders instead of putting up a shot with some time left. He took yet another mid-range jump shot that hit the front rim, allowing the Clippers to have the sweet taste of victory after their 28-3 run to finish the fight.

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The Grizzlies lost this game. Point blank. I understand the Los Angeles Clippers are the team that just made the largest fourth quarter comeback in NBA playoffs history and deserve credit for pushing through adversity. Congratulations gentlemen, but this game is not about your team.

Memphis had a 27-point lead on their own court. They had the fans and they had a lead that looked like an any-team-in-the-NBA and Charlotte Bobcats box score.

This team went away from what has brought them the No. 4 seed during the regular season. They stopped using their big men and the paint to dominate their opponent. Instead of penetrating and then using this offense to open the floor for jumpers, they merely settled for jumpers.

Even though the Grizzlies have positives to take away from this game, such as the fact that they should have won because they’re the better team, there are no moral victories in the playoffs; there are only victories. The Grizzlies are now down a game, and if they lose three more, their season will be no more.

There was a negative for the Clippers, though, as Caron Butler fractured his left hand in the third quarter and will be out for four to six weeks. Nick Young might receive the starting role nod as long as Del Negro believes this won’t hurt his swingman’s spark power.

Teams have come back from losing the first two home games. In fact, in the 2005 playoffs, the Dallas Mavericks lost their first two home games to the Houston Rockets and ended up winning the series in seven games. However, they didn’t gain an insurmountable lead in their first loss that sucked the life out of the entire franchise.

Game 2 is a must-win not just for the Grizzlies’ hopes of winning this series but for the dignity of their organization. If this up and coming team wants to play a series against the San Antonio Spurs again this year, it starts with a win in game 2. If they cannot put this collapse behind them and focus on the present instead of the past, the Grizzlies will have a long offseason filled with thoughts about the eight minutes that changed everything.

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One response

30 04 2012
Chris

Wow… Memphis better win game 2. I just can’t believe this happened right now…

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