The 2013 NBA Playoffs took center stage in Memphis, Tenn., as the Memphis Grizzlies defeated the Los Angeles Clippers by a score of 118-105 to advance to the Western Conference semifinals Friday night.
For Memphis, it was all about Tony Allen, who had one of the best games of his NBA career. With 19 points, seven rebounds, six assists and four steals, the numbers spoke volumes to just how well Allen played.
Even still, they failed to tell the whole story.
Allen was complemented by 23 points from Zach Randolph, 23 from Mike Conley and 10 from Marc Gasol. With Tayshaun Prince discovering his jump shot and Jerryd Bayless making huge buckets in the second half, Memphis put on an offensive show.
How did L.A. counter?
Chris Paul was up to his usual heroics, tallying 28 points and eight assists. Matt Barnes stepped up with 30 points of his own on 11-of-14 shooting from the floor.
Unfortunately, CP3 was ejected during the fourth quarter.
During the first quarter, we saw both teams get out to hot starts that eventually set the stage for a physical clash. Neither team managed to pull away, as both sides came up with points in the paint and three-point field goals.
That includes seven quick points from Allen, thus leading to a 29-26 Grizzlies lead.
During the second period of play, it was more of the same, as both teams fired at will and converted shots in magnificent fashion. Barnes matched Allen as the surprise performers of this game, knocking down three three-pointers.
With Zach Randolph overpowering L.A. down low, however, the Grizzlies simply had too much and entered the half with a 58-53 lead.
Memphis wasted no time in shooting the lights out during the second half, attacking the basket and knocking down jump shots left and right. Tayshaun Prince was amongst the players to step up as a scorer, providing a surprising spark.
With L.A. failing to get anything going and the crowd on their feet, Bayless' buzzer-beating jumper made it a 92-79 game.
The Clippers made it a single-digit game, but the Grizzlies were just too much in the fourth quarter. Mike Conley, Allen and Bayless carried this team with a dominant perimeter performance, thus getting under the skin of their counterparts.
In turn, the Clippers saw CP3 get ejected and their title dreams wither away. Memphis, meanwhile, is one step closer to realizing its dreams.
So, how about that Rudy Gay guy?
There is no denying how important this game was to the NBA, as both the Los Angeles Clippers and Memphis Grizzlies are viewed as legitimate threats to the Western Conference crown. Perhaps no presence at this game was important as that of the man at the top of the food chain.
NBA commissioner David Stern.
How about that?
During the course of the game, the storyline was what we've grown accustomed to seeing. That, of course, was the brute physicality between Blake Griffin and Zach Randolph as their rivalry continued on the hardwood.
They tackled each other to the ground and needed to be pulled away from one another.
All in favor take to the comments section.
In terms of what happened on the court, the Grizzlies dominated the second half after putting on a show in the third quarter. During the fourth, however, the Clippers nearly made a comeback by making adjustments defensively.
While their efforts fell short, a change of schematics nearly led to a comeback.
So close, but so far away.
Even as the two teams came to blows, nothing was more shocking than the ejection of Clippers point guard Chris Paul. As for why, note that this was the second time in Paul's career that he was ejected from a game.
How fitting is it that CP3 and Dwight Howard were both ejected with free agency looming?
Was that the last time they played games in their respective Los Angeles jerseys?
As for the Grizzlies, who did win this game, they made history with the way they won this series. Keep in mind, they fell behind 2-0 before going on to win four straight and take it four games to two.
It's not just about that they won, though—it's how they won.
Good luck to the Oklahoma City Thunder—Memphis is one tough out.