Making game-winning shots in the last seconds is one reason the Clippers brought Chris Paul to the town. He came up big with a 10th of a second left against the Grizzlies.
Paul’s running jumper against Tony Allen’s defense gave the Clippers a 93-91 victory and a 2-0 lead in their 1st-round playoff series.
”Tony played as good as defense as you can,” Paul said. ”I looked up at the clock and thought I better get a shot off.”
Both teams stayed on the court while the referees reviewed the play. It was declared good, leaving Memphis a tick of the clock to inbound the ball but not enough to get off a last shot.
Paul finished with 24 points and 9 assists, Blake Griffin added 21 points and 8 rebounds and Jamal Crawford scored 15 points on the day he finished second to J.R. Smith of the Knicks for the league’s Sixth Man of the Year award.
”We were on him, the kid made a tough shot,” Memphis coach Lionel Hollins said of Paul. ”He’s a great player and he made a big shot.”
Paul carried the Clippers in the last 3:46, scoring 8 straight points, including a basket that gave them a 91-89 lead with 1:20 to play.
”The way Conley was blowing by me at the other end, the least I could do was make a couple shots,” Paul said.
Conley led the Grizzlies’ fourth quarter charge that came up just short. He had 10 points in the period, while Darrell Arthur scored 5 straight when Randolph was on the bench to pull Memphis into an 89-all tie.
Conley found Marc Gasol alone in the paint and the big man dunked to tie the game 91-all with 13 seconds left.
Griffin won a hard-fought jump ball, but Paul missed a 3-pointer. He redeemed himself and set off a raucous reaction – with longtime Clippers fan Billy Crystal pumping both arms in the air – when he drove the right baseline against Allen and banked in the game-winner.
”I was supposed to send him back to the left. He got right and that’s what he does in close games,” Allen claimed. ”I definitely let my team down by not sending him back to his weak hand. Baseball lines
”The guy made an amazing shot and all you are able to do is just deal with the results.”
Gasol added 17 points, Allen had 16 points and 10 rebounds, and Zach Randolph had 13 points while racking up 5 fouls for the 2nd straight game.
The Clippers’ bench started fourth quarter and ran off 8 straight points for the game’s first double-digit lead, 81-71. Eric Bledsoe and Matt Barnes had 4 points each.
Conley answered with 5 straight points to close Memphis inside 7 points.
Griffin and Paul joined the 2nd unit, and Griffin scored on a driving dunk for an 85-76 lead. The Clippers returned to their high-flying ways after Lob City managed only one dunk in the series opener.