NBA Playoffs 2012 – Preview: Los Angeles Clippers await Memphis Grizzlies in Game 4
The fourth game of the first round Western Conference series between the Los Angeles Clippers and the Memphis Grizzlies will take place on Monday night at the Staples Center.
Clippers hold a 2-1 lead in the series and will look to wrap things up at home on a strong note to go 3-1 up. The Clips have been able to achieve this lead courtesy two fourth quarter comebacks, one in Game 1 and then in Game 3.
The turnaround in the game-1 was of historic proportions when the Clippers overcame a 27 point hole to come out with a 99-98 win. Chris Paul was instrumental down the stretch that time and finished off with 14 points and 11 assists.
Memphis were shocked after the loss and Head Coach, Lionel Hollins had this to say after the game.
"It's the little things that cost you in games like this and playoff games aren't meant to be blowouts. Sometimes they are, but when you have two evenly matched teams, you can expect that both teams are going to be in the game at the end. The Clippers got back to win the game. We just didn't make enough plays and they did." -- Hollins.
Losing out Game 1 in such a fashion did put a huge question mark over the Grizzlies ability to close out games, but they did not let it faze them and came back to win Game 2 105-98. Rudy Gay racked up 21 points to lead Memphis helping them even up the series. The small forward was once again at his clutch best in game-3 and had it not been for a missed three at the death, the Grizzlies, instead of the Clips, would have been 2-1 up.
Game 3 was very important for the Clippers as the franchise played its first home game in the post season after a six year drought of playoff action. In this matchup, Clippers found themselves trailing 78-73 at the 6:17 mark in the fourth quarter.
However much courtesy to Paul`s 24 points to along with 11 assists and Randy Foye`s impressive work on the defensive to alter a game winning by Gay, Clippers held on to a 87-86 win.
“Chris had logged a lot of minutes ... defensively, his physicality and his rebounding helped us. " - Clippers Head Coach, Vinny Del Negro after the game.
Blake Griffin has not had much influence in the first two games of the series, but did manage to rack up 17 points in this one. The All Star power forward has however been treated to some brutal physicality by the Memphis bigs. Griffin however is not the only one being grinded by the Grizzlies, the team which no one wanted to play before the start of the playoffs.
At the 3:16 mark of the second quarter, Blake was seen retaliating in anger after getting fouled hard by Zach Randolph. The other hostile moment of the match came in the same quarter when Memphis guard, O. J. Mayo intentionally – concealed beautifully from the officials though - punched Paul in the groin leaving him laying on the floor in discomfort.
With both sides getting hostile, things look all set to take a more chippy turn with the series getting into its most crucial stages.
One thing that is working for the Clippers is that Paul seems to get charged up after such situations. If he responds the same way he did in Game 1 after getting hit by a knee from Marc Gasol in the fourth quarter, Mike Conley is surely going to have his work cut out for him.