MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — The Los Angeles Clippers have a simple plan for following up their historic comeback against Memphis: be ready at tipoff and avoid falling behind by 27 again.
Well, they just want to finish what they start.
Coach Lionel Hollins said Tuesday the most unbelievable part of blowing that big lead in losing Game 1 to the Clippers 99-98 was his Grizzlies being up by 27 in a game where he didn’t think they played that great. But Hollins doesn’t see Game 2 on Wednesday night being as simple as just winning the fourth quarter.
“We’ve got to win the game,” Hollins said. “We’ve got to go out and play well in the first, second and third quarter and like I said, if we’re up 27, 21 points in the fourth quarter, I’ll take that. And then we’ve just got to be better and finish it. But it’s going to be a tough ballgame. We just have to go out and play well to win it.”
The best part about Wednesday night for Clippers guard Chris Paul will be a scoreboard reading 0-0 at tipoff.
“We don’t have to play from 24, 27 down,” Paul said.
The Clippers made NBA history by tying the playoff record for the largest deficit overcome after three quarters when they trailed by 21. The Grizzlies even led by 24 with 9:13 left before the Clippers finished the game with a 28-3 run to squeak out the victory and a 1-0 lead.
Paul said he doesn’t see that kind of comeback happening twice, and he hopes the Clippers don’t find themselves needing one again. He called the comeback a perfect storm where everything went right for Los Angeles in a situation where just one more Memphis basket would have meant a Grizzlies win.
“But I was telling some of the guys the next time we get down that much one of two things is going to happen,” Paul said. “Either they’re going to take it to 35 or 40, or we’re only going to come back to around eight and just be able to say it was a good fight.”
Grizzlies guard Tony Allen was not at practice Tuesday. Hollins said Allen was seeing a doctor with a sore knee. Allen averages 9.8 points and 1.79 steals per game as the Grizzlies’ top defensive stopper.
Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro is looking at starting either Nick Young, who scored a team-high 19 points Sunday night, or Bobby Simmons with Caron Butler out with a broken left hand. Young keyed the Clippers’ comeback with three 3s, and he said he expects the Grizzlies to keep a closer eye on him in the next game after the Clippers’ rally in the last one.
“It was an amazing comeback and just happy to be a part of it, really,” Young said.
The series opener also marked the playoff debut for three Clippers starters in Blake Griffin, Randy Foye and DeAndre Jordan. Griffin had just two points by halftime, while Paul had a single point with three assists. Griffin finished with 17 points, while Paul had 14.
“Me and Blake play decent, you know we should have a better chance,” Paul said.
The Clippers also got a boost from Reggie Evans, who grabbed 13 rebounds in helping Los Angeles to a 47-41 edge on the boards. He also helped harass Grizzlies forward Zach Randolph, who had just six points. Blake Griffin wound up helping defend Grizzlies center Marc Gasol, and Gasol didn’t score a point in the second half.
Gasol said the Clippers did a good job pressuring Memphis and getting the Grizzlies out of their rhythm. The Grizzlies also got so comfortable hitting a rare 11 3-pointers they wound up being outscored in the paint 54-38, something that usually doesn’t happen with Memphis’ offense centered around feeding Gasol and Randolph inside.
“There’s no magic to it,” Gasol said. “We just have to do what we did the first three quarters. If they pressure us … just penetrate and run down the clock and play our game.”
The Grizzlies still feel they simply took their foot off the pedal Sunday night. With such a big lead, they never thought the Clippers could score enough to be a threat, let alone steal the game. That’s why guard O.J. Mayo said none of the Grizzlies are hitting the panic button.
“Just come out and play ball,” Mayo said. “We have a good team.”