Not 40. Not 42. Not 46.
In the NBA if you don’t play every minute of playoff basketball with untempered enthusiasm and smarts, you could be prone to the pitfalls of history. And not the good kind.
It was 95-71 with 8 minutes remaining, the Grizzlies had the lead. And then Rudy Gay got into the lane, stopped, and hoisted up one last shot which clanked cruely off the front of the rim, and Eric Bledsoe, got the ball, threw it up in the air, and the Los Angeles Clippers bench came flying onto the court, soaking in the remnants of one of the more remarkable comebacks in sports history.
What. Just. Happened?
Every great comeback needs fuel, and the Clippers triggered their remarkable run from nowhere with 5 big-time threes, turning a deficit that was once as large as 27, into a shocking (and I mean shocking) win. Kenny Smith compared it to panicking when the house is on fire. To further the analogy, this was George Costanza running out twice in the infamous Bozo the clown Seinfeld episode. This was a complete implosion.
The Grizzlies were up by as many as 20 in a furious 1st quarter ignited by 3s. And they continued to hold their lead, belting it out to 27. Caron Butler hurt, the Grizzlies appeared on their way to coasting to an easy win.
And then, the wheels fell off. The car skidded out of control, and the Clippers finished first in a race that they were being lapped.
How did L.A. pull it off? Watch the highlights and you’ll see a flurry of open court points, that quickly monsoon-ed into a mammoth run, and by the time Memphis attempted to recover, they were drowning in their own mistakes. The Clippers outscored the Grizz 28-3 down the stretch, and as the lead dwindled, you could feel the tension and see the lack of movement. Add it all up, and you get a historic collapse/comeback, the likes we haven’t seen since the 2002 Boston Celtics shocked the Nets.
Almost 10 years ago, on May 25th, Boston charged back from a remarkable 21 point deficit to beat New Jersey. Yet, the Nets responded with 3 straight wins to take the series. So who knows, maybe this is just a blip.
Or maybe it’s a giveway that the Grizzlies will long rue, should this series turn on this comeback.
We shall see. For those who watched the end of this one, you really had to see to believe.
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