The Los Angeles Clippers have been called “Soft”, “The LA Floppers” and “Chokers”. But the battered Clippers found a way to overcome adversity and the haters once again to beat the favored Memphis Grizzlies at the Grindhouse 82-72. Chris Paul was the catalyst in the 1st half as he kept the Clippers afloat with 11 first half points. But it was his “defense” and rebounding (9 boards) that inspired his teammates to believe that they could close out this series in Memphis.
In Game 6 Paul looked limited. He couldn’t attack and utilize screens in pick-and-roll situations. In fact, CP3 couldn’t even beat his man off the dribble in the 4th quarter which uncharacteristically led to two turnovers in the last 2 minutes. For Paul not to close Game 6 at home after spending the entire season being the league’s best closer must have driven him crazy!
Conversely on Sunday Afternoon Paul looked fresh and explosive. He created space in pick-and-roll situations as he attacked the helpdefender in order to get off his fade-away jumper. His aggressiveness did two things:
1. Made it clear to his teammates that he was both physically and mentally ready to go
2. Made it crystal clear to the Grizzlies that this game was going to be a war
While Paul was absolutely terrific, the game was won in the 4th quarter behind a cast of characters whom have had intriguing careers. But on this night, two enigmas in particular etched their name in NBA playoff lore.
Kenyon Martin: K-Mart has been:
Uncoachable, dynamic, immature, been the #1 pick, unlucky (numerous injuries), a defensive stud, an offensive liability, a spoiled brat (refused to play in a playoff game in Denver), at odds with Alonzo Mourning (about his kidney transplant, yikes!), etc.
It is fair to say he has had a checkered past.
But for the Clippers K-Mart has been a rock on the defensive end. In Game 7 Kenyon brought the team together to start the 4th quarter and his words propelled a dynamic 16-7 run buoyed by the 2nd unit. K-Mart’s unit would score 25 of the Clippers 27 points in the 4th, and he himself achieved a double-double: 11 points and 10 boards. He also had 2 block and 5 fouls. His physicality with Randolph and Gasol helped to limit Memphis’ studs to 28 points combined on 9-23 shooting.
Nick Young: Young’s disregard to the concept of shot selection and his lack of discipline on the court were symbolic of why the Wizards have struggled mightily over the past couple of years. However while Young has been inconsistent at times for the Clips in this series, this volume shooter shined in the 4th quarter. “Swaggy P” had 9 of his 13 in the 4th quarter, included a fade-away corner 3 that had Clippers Nation yelling, “No No No…YES!”
The Clippers won because they are a team. Much is made of the dynamic duo of Paul and Blake Griffin. But with Griffin limited by his bulky knee, the Clips needed others to step up and on the biggest of stages, the Clippers bench rose to the challenge. While the #1 seeded Spurs await, the Clippers can sleep well tonight knowing that they are more than a two-band-man.
After all, didn’t the team the Clips just knocked out-punch out the Spurs in the Playoffs last year?
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