The Los Angeles Clippers were not only in the grave at the conclusion of the third quarter at the Fed Ex forum on Sunday; they already had a couple of shovels full of dirt thrown on them as they trailed the Memphis Grizzlies 85-64 in the first game of their first round Playoff series. There would turn out to be a lot of life left in the team from the “City Of Angels” in the fourth quarter as All-Star point guard Chris Paul knocked down a pair at the charity stripe with 23 seconds left to play and completed the Clippers comeback as they wound up as the victors by a final score of 99-98.
The victory for Los Angeles put the team in the record books as the comeback is tied for the largest deficit ever overcome entering the third quarter of a Post Season game. The Boston Celtics was the first team to carry out the feat as they defeated the Philadelphia 76ers by the same margin in May of 2002. The Clippers news however was not all positive as they have lost veteran Caron Butler perhaps for the season after he broke his left hand in the game.
This was truly a game of extremes as the Grizzlies looked like they were ready to have this contest over by the half as they put on a scoring barrage of their own in the first. Marreese Speights drained an outside jumper with 25 seconds left in the first and Memphis ended the first period on top 34-16.
Things did not get any brighter for the visitors in the second period, although Memphis was no longer scoring at such a prolific rate. The Clippers deficit did grow just a bit in the second and as the contest reached the half the Grizzlies held a 58-39 advantage.
The Grizzlies would extend their lead to 27 points with 2:38 left in the third as Mike Conley split a pair at the stripe putting Memphis ahead 82-55. Los Angeles point guard Mo Williams drained an outside shot with 34 seconds remaining, cutting the Clippers deficit to 85-64 at the end of the quarter.
With about 5:26 left to play the Clippers picked up their defensive intensity and started to climb out of the hole that they had been in since the opening period. Los Angeles trailed their hosts 96-82; and while the Grizzlies would be stuck at 96 until the final seconds of the period, the Clippers took the upper hand at 97-96 as Reggie Evans drove the lane with 50 seconds on the clock giving Los Angeles the lead at 97-96. Rudy Gay connected on a mid-range shot with 10 seconds on the clock giving Memphis the 98-97 advantage. However it would be short-lived as Paul won the game with his two shots at the line.
The two teams will meet again on Wednesday at the Fed Ex Forum.