With nine minutes and twelve seconds remaining in game one of a first round series between the Memphis Grizzlies and Los Angeles Clippers, O.J. Mayo hit his team’s eleventh three pointer of the night to give the Grizzlies a 95-71 lead. One that was seemingly insurmountable not only given the Clippers’ massive deficit on the scoreboard, but the overall feel, tone, and course of the game since the opening tip, too. This game was over. We were sure of it.
Then Chris Paul took over, leading the Clippers on a 28-3 game-ending run, the greatest win in the organization’s woebegone history, and a classic playoff moment that will be remembered forever. LA’s “other” team, somehow and some way, beat league darling Memphis 99-98.
Paul scored just four points during the Clippers gallant and ultimately game-winning sprint, including the go-ahead free throws with 23 seconds remaining. But his impact, unsurprisingly, went far, far greater than that. Paul assisted on six of his team’s last nine baskets, none bigger than the trio in successive possessions that resulted in Nick Young three pointers, cutting Memphis’ lead from twelve to three in a span of sixty seconds.
From then it seemed LA’s run was a gift of the basketball gods that could end in nothing but the best postseason comeback – the Clippers were down 27 points late in the third quarter – this league has seen in over ten years. In a postgame interview with TNT’s Craig Sager, Paul said he always believed his team was capable of winning this game. And when we saw him wheeling and dealing midway through the fourth quarter, getting steals, sprinting the ball up the floor, and being his extra-aggressive crunch-time self, we all should have believed, too. Bravo, Chris. We’ll never count you out again.
Saving the Skyhook will have more on this epic Clippers comeback tomorrow.