Clippers Steal Homecourt in Historic Comeback
It was already over. The fat lady had sung. That was all she wrote. The Memphis Grizzlies came out on their home court in front of their riotous crowd and stomped all over the L.A. Clippers neck. Through three quarters, the Grizzlies hit a season high, 11 three point shots - 2 more than they hit in any game all season long. O.J. Mayo was killing the Clippers bench singlehandedly. Chris Paul and Blake Griffin forgot to show up in the first half, combining for 3 points and 3 turnovers.
The score was up to 85-64 to begin the fourth quarter. The Grizzlies had forced an early timeout by Vinny Del Negro. Was this the timeout where he would empty his bench? It was just one game in the grand scheme of things and we had just witnessed Derrick Rose suffer a playoff ending torn ACL. Was it worth it to risk injury to Chris Paul or Blake Griffin? Didn't matter. Vinny came back with his most active lineup: Chris Paul, Eric Bledsoe, Nick Young, Blake Griffin and Reggie Evans. The Clippers had failed to cut into the lead, facing a substantial deficit, as they found themselves down 95-71 with about 9 minutes remaining in Game 1.
The Clippers could have said, 'Lets bite the bullet and come back strong in Game 2'. Everyone on twitter was saying the same thing - just make sure you come back hard next game and potentially salvage the trip. LA would have none of that nonsense. The home fans may have believed this game to be in the books, the announcers may have thought this was just another playoff blowout, however, you can never deny the heart of a champion.
Reggie Evans, the ultimate role player and consumate professional athlete, dug deep down and ignited an energy in the Clippers everyone had yet to see in this young postseason. Never known for his offensive game and better known for his general lack of any offensive IQ, Reggie finished three monster layups in traffic (none bigger than the one he took on the roll from CP3 to put the Clippers up 97-96 for their first lead of the night). In his 21 minutes of play, he finished with 7 points, 13 rebounds and incredible on-ball defense of Zach Randolph down the stretch. Nick Young, who had scored 10 early points in the first half trying to keep the Clippers afloat - found himself set up behind the three point line, awaiting that pass from Chris Paul in rhythm to make it rain. He finished with 19 in 24 minutes, hitting three crucial three point shots down the stretch, to cut the Grizzlies lead to 96-93 with under 2 minutes to play. Yes - that capped a 22-1 run by the Clippers. Not to mention Young's inspired defensive effort on Rudy Gay in the fourth quarter.