The mystical land that is the NBA world knew the second-consecutive playoff series between the Memphis Grizzlies and Los Angeles Clippers would be a tight one - nearly all analysts (including the folks here at Grizzly Bear Blues) predicted the series to go at least six games.
After game 2 in Los Angeles, however, things begun looking down. The Clippers were still the Grizzlies arch-nemeses - the team that seemed to have all the same strengths as the Grizzlies and fill in the holes the Grizzlies were unable to fill.
Things changed, however, in game 3, when Zach Randolph led the team with 27 points and 11 rebounds to a 94-82 home victory to make the series 2-1. A 2-1 series is much better for us Grizz fans to deal with mentally than a 3-0 series, but there was still much work to do.
|Final - 4.27.2013||1||2||3||4||Total|
|Los Angeles Clippers||25||22||20||16||83|
I would like to begin by stating I absolutely love great basketball just as much as anybody else. The Nets/Bulls triple overtime game was fantastic, and I'm sure our friends at Nets Daily and Blog a Bull were having a field day in their respective game threads.
However, I despise TNT's coverage. TNT wouldn't switch over to the Clips/Grizz game when the game started because of the 3OT game in Chicago. I understand - I really do. But I missed the entire first-half because of it.
To become part of the game, I followed our very own GameThread, Twitter, and the ESPN GameCast to attempt a derivation of how the game felt and was playing out. From what I saw, things were looking great.
Reader MulliGrizz was fortunate enough to be at the Forum yesterday afternoon and shared some of his experience in the GameThread:
And the tweets:
The Grindhouse is deafening when it needs to be. RT @sbnationnba: This crowd is awesome. Grizzlies up 66-62 in the third.— Grizzly Bear Blues (@sbnGrizzlies) April 27, 2013
TONY WROTEN SIGHTING— Grizzly Bear Blues (@sbnGrizzlies) April 27, 2013
At the end of the first half, the Clips held a one point lead at 47-46. Blake Griffin was held to 8 points - telling me that ZBo and Gasol were working well down low. Chris Paul had 14 points, and Eric Bledsoe claimed 7 points.
I was most surprised when I looked at the Grizzlies' numbers. Sure enough, my suspicions were correct. Zach Randolph was heading into the locker room with a game-leading 16 points, continuing his game 3 dominance of the Clippers down low. It was also encouraging to see Tayshaun Prince going early with 9 points - easily his best game of the series thus far from a statistical point of view. Lastly, Mike Conley and Marc Gasol each had 6 points to their name.
At this moment the game ended and I was able to hop on to catch the second half. I knew the game was close. In response, judging by the numbers, I knew we had to get either Conley or Gasol going.
And we did.
Coach Hollins was thinking the same thing as I. Tony Allen reports that Hollins, in the locker room prep talk during halftime, rode Gasol a bit and reminded him to score more points. This would require aggressiveness and confidence - something Gasol has as a recent DPOY winner, but deferred throughout the first half to a surging Zach Randolph.
The 3rd quarter started off strong for the Clippers. Grizz defense was being picked apart by Chris Paul and Blake Griffin's pick-n-roll and the Clippers seemed to get every shot they wanted beyond the arc. When Gasol hit a 23-ft jumper to beat the shot clock and sunk two free throws to put Memphis ahead with roughly 5 minutes left in the quarter, the Grizzlies decided to turn it on.
With 3:21 left in the third, Gasol sniped a pass to ZBo for a layup that put the Grizzlies ahead 64-62 and set the mood for the fourth.
Honestly, who can beat us when Gasol and Randolph are doing what they're supposed to do?
Memphis opened the fourth quarter with a 19-5 offensive stomping to put the Clippers in desperation mode. The Grindhouse was deafening - reports from the Forum stated there were times when players were unable to hear the referees' whistles to designate breaks in play. The front-court led the 19-5 run, and Conley's play looked more veteran than I've seen it.
Marc Gasol took control and assumed his inner Spanish monster in the second half. He scored 18 of his 24 points after halftime.
In response, Del Negro seemingly threw in the towel and benched all of his starters for the final 2 minutes of the game. The Grizzlies finished up with a message-sending 104-83 win.
- The 21-point win is the largest win the Grizzlies have had in franchise playoff history.
- The Grizzlies outscored the Clippers 22-2 on second-chance points. This was more than games 1 and 2 combined.
- Randolph made 11 field goals - all of them coming inside the paint. Randolph's 22 points in the paint were the second-most by Randolph all season.
- The Clippers made 12 field goals from at least 15 feet. In the first quarter, the Clips shot 50% on these shots. For the rest of the game, the Grizzlies held them to 26%.
- Final field goal percentages: Grizzlies 51%, Clippers 41%.