There’s stunning and then there’s what happened to the Memphis Grizzlies, who, depending on your point of view, either failed to hold off the Los Angeles Clippers late in the first game of their playoff series or simply gacked.
Either way, the Clippers put together one of the great NBA playoff comebacks, rallying from a 21-point deficit at the start of the fourth quarter for a 99-98 victory Sunday in Memphis.
Admittedly, it looked dire for the Clippers after three quarters. “In these situations,” Chris Paul said, “you always have to believe.”
Especially if you’re Paul, who ended up with the Clippers after his trade from New Orleans to the Los Angeles Lakers was voided by Commissioner David Stern in December. Still, as SI.com’s Chris Mannix points out, “not even Paul could have predicted how the Clippers were going to come back, that Nick Young would can three three-pointers, that Eric Bledsoe would score seven points, that a white hot Grizzlies team that shot 50 percent through the first three quarters would miss 12 consecutive shots.”
This, though, is how the Clippers roll. “Unfortunately, that's how we play,” Paul said. “We get killed in the first three quarters and in the fourth quarter we like to try to stand up for ourselves, and we found a way to win tonight.”
Blake Griffin, in his first playoff game, had 17 points and seven rebounds. “It was real emotional,” he said (via the Los Angeles Times). “I think that kind of showed me a lot about the way the playoffs are. That was a great first lesson. No matter how I played in the beginning, you've got to keep playing and working, and that's what we did.”
The Grizzlies aren’t particularly disheartened — nor should they be, say the silver-lining seekers at Yahoo. The last three teams that have given up a lead of 18 or more points in the fourth quarter (1994 Houston Rockets, 2002 New Jersey Nets, 2011 Dallas Mavericks) of a playoff game went on to play in the NBA Finals.
“I hate to say it, but it happens,” Rudy Gay said. “We just can't let it happen to us again.”
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