Total team effort from both sides was the story of Game 2 between the Memphis Grizzlies and Los Angeles Clippers Monday night. It was just a little bit more from the Clippers that put them ahead 2-0 in the series after their 93-91 victory at home.
Memphis was able to turn this game into a slog through the mud by the second half, playing some of the best Memphis basketball it could, but the Clippers had Chris Paul running things.
Paul scored a team-high 24 points and dished out nine assists on a night where most all of his teammates needed help finding their way to an open shot or lane to the basket. Oh, and he was able to bank in the game-winner.
The game seemed to be completely dominated by the Clippers in the first half, although the Grizzlies continued to hang around.
Whether it was the raucous crowd or the fact that Los Angeles was scoring in bursts compared to Memphis' slow, steady attack, the Clippers held a six-point lead at halftime.
They rode a 13-point first quarter from Griffin to a hot start, but the Grizzlies continually got to the free-throw line and took as many shots at the rim as possible. The game was knotted at 26 after 12 minutes.
With Griffin on the bench to start the second, Jamal Crawford stepped up to fill the scoring void for the Clippers. Once again, it seemed as if the Grizzlies were falling behind, but their balanced attack helped counter Crawford's 13-point, 6-of-6 start before he finally missed.
The Grizzlies finally started to force their patented rough style in the third quarter. The game slowed down and turned into a mud pit, as both teams struggled to find open shots. Free throws reigned supreme, the game got rough and the whistles started to take over. We even saw a double foul on Zach Randolph and Blake Griffin for the second consecutive game.
Once again, Memphis was able to hang around, but the Clippers still came out just a step ahead by the end of the third.
Memphis' early fourth-quarter lapse against the Clippers bench put it in a quick 10-point hole, however, leading to a heavy climb the rest of the way.
Chipping away throughout the fourth, Memphis got within five points with four minutes to go once it started limiting Los Angeles to one shot per possession. But the Grizzlies continued to struggle at the free-throw line.
Mike Conley scored on two straight trips down the floor for Memphis, and then Darrell Arthur did the same, locking the game up at 89 apiece. Conley led the way with a game-high 28 points.
Paul had to match Memphis possession for possession, and he did just that, controlling the clock until he eventually forced the game down to a final shot.
Marc Gasol scored on a pick-and-roll, but Memphis left too much time on the clock, and Paul banked in the game-winner with just a tenth of a second remaining.
Blake Griffin completely flipped the script from a disappointing individual showing in Game 1 from the outset, putting up 13 points on 10 shots in the first quarter.
Now Darrell Arthur gets to try guarding Blake Griffin -- and nope, that doesn't work either.— SBNation NBA (@SBNationNBA) April 23, 2013
As expected, we saw plenty of jostling and outright physicality from both teams.
Both teams have hit each other in the face underneath like three times by the way. Only the one on Blake was called.— Hardwood Paroxysm (@HPbasketball) April 23, 2013
The Los Angeles offense finally got in sync enough to get out to a substantial lead with more than just one player running the show at a time.
MATT BARNES THROWING IT DOWN?— SBNation NBA (@SBNationNBA) April 23, 2013
Memphis asserted itself in the third quarter, and the game started to get even more gritty. Of course, that meant the referees decided to take over the game.
Fouls taking the momentum away in a good game? That doesn't sound like the 2013 officials.— Hardwood Paroxysm (@HPbasketball) April 23, 2013
The physical play continued through the fourth, with both teams using their bodies to create space.
These Clips-Grizz battles are so much fun. Old-school physical aggressive fearless body-banging basketball. Not the series for Vince Carter.— Bill Simmons (@BillSimmons) April 23, 2013
Of course, Chris Paul did his Chris Paul thing, and Memphis was looking at a one-possession game with just seconds left on the clock.
Grizzlies ball, 21 seconds left down 89-91. Who's gonna take this shot?— SBNation NBA (@SBNationNBA) April 23, 2013
Marc Gasol tied the game up, but the Grizzlies left too much time on the clock for the Clippers' star guard.
CP3 not only makes shot but also makes sure Memphis has no time which is almost as important. Amazing.— Daryl Morey (@dmorey) April 23, 2013
Los Angeles barely held on to home-court advantage after Game 2, but the Clippers were able to pull it off and have now put a ton of pressure on the Grizzlies.
Hopefully this series goes beyond four games, especially after the excitement in this one.