For the second game in a row the Clippers and Grizzlies went at each other with the tenacity of a Western Conference finals match. For the second game in a row technicals were dished out as a result after several entanglements involving Blake Griffin and Zach Randolph. For the second game in a row, the Clippers prevailed as a result of a total team effort highlighted by a last second game-winner from their fearless leader, Chris Paul.
Monday night proved, once again, why there is growing animosity between these two Western conference rivals. There’s no such thing as easy buckets if there are fouls to give or when the defense doesn’t break-down. More often than not you will find a Clipper on the floor instead of high above the rim where they’re used to living. Memphis, characterized by a gritty style of play, will gladly inflict physical punishment in the hopes that such punishment will in turn translate into a psychological edge.
The Clippers, on the other hand, are the owners of the most exciting style of play in all of the NBA. They often rely on an up-tempo, highlight style of gameplay to get their team going, and they’re blessed with arguably the deepest bench in all of the NBA. A style that inherently clashes with the philosophy of the blue collar bears from Memphis.
Such a dichotomy has amplified the meaning of a burgeoning rivalry into something that more closely resembles a rabid antipathy toward each other.
But what makes these teams so different in their style of play is also what makes this playoff match-up so fun to watch. Something’s gotta give, right? And when it does, you either end up with defensive prowess or jaw-dropping dunks and lobs.
Tuesday night gave us a little bit of everything, including a shunned, would-be 6th man of the year, coming out in full force, scorching everything in his path to give the Clippers an extended lead.
Impressive as his contributions were, Jamal Crawford had to concede tonight’s honor to Chris Paul, who in the last seconds of the 4th quarter, fearlessly drove by the Grizzlies defense to hit the game winner:
The victory sets up the Clippers with a comfortable lead prior to having to go on the road to Memphis. You have to feel for Memphis fans who have seen the Clippers slowly chip away at their strands of hope with each victory. I’ll only feel for them temporarily, though, as I’m sure come game-time on Thursday, the shoe will be on the other foot temporarily and we’ll have to deal with the repercussions of grit arena.
Here’s to game 3! Count it.