Incredible CP3 Finishes Off Team Win

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LOS ANGELES – Seemingly the only person inside the 93rd consecutive sold-out house not overwhelmed by Chris Paul’s drive and impossible bank shot that dropped for the game-winner with one-tenth of a second left on the clock was Paul himself.

The super-clutch superstar of these burgeoning Los Angeles Clippers didn’t raise his arms, didn’t let go a primal scream. He beat Memphis’ tremendous defender Tony Allen, giving him a hitch at the corner of the key, a high-step to the right side and released a one-handed leaner that just out of the reach of helping defender Darrell Arthur.

Bank and ballgame, 93-91.

As Blake Griffin and Jamal Crawford were first to embrace him and then as his teammates mobbed him, realizing they’d just snuck out with one and will take a 2-0 series lead to Memphis for Thursday’s Game 3, CP3 stood firm, seemingly rising above the fray, his chest puffed out, his face unflinching as if to say, “Get used to this, folks.”

Paul scored eight points in the fourth quarter and they just happened to be the Clippers’ final eight after L.A.’s offense went stale and allowed the Grizzlies to scrap back from an 85-76 deficit with 6:53 to go.

From that point on, CP3 did it all. Delirium shook the Staples Center and 19,000-plus couldn’t decide on the chant as “C-P-3! C-P-3!” cross-channeled with “M-V-P! M-V-P!”

“Chris made the plays down the stretch,” Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro said. “He has a knack and a will and a desire to step up in those moments. That’s what star players do. That’s the best part of the game. If you’re competitive, that’s what you love, and Chris Paul loves that part.”

Memphis coach Lionel Hollins had Allen, his best on-ball defender, guarding Paul on the final sequence that started with 13.9 seconds on the clock and the game tied at 91. Allen was having a tremendous night with 16 points and 10 rebounds, while charged with holding down Clippers explosive sixth man Jamal Crawford after his 6-for-6 start in tearing up Jerryd Bayless (Crawford went 0-for-4 after that).

When Allen went toe-to-toe with Paul, he was deep into his 38th exhaustive minute. He might have expected Paul to go left, but instead the 6-foot, 175-pound whiz gave the hitch, stutter and poof.

“We tried to get Mike Conley to switch on me because we know Tony Allen is their best defender, but [Allen] did a great job staying on me,” Paul said. “Every time I went to go left, he took the space up.”

So this time, after that brief stop-and-go, Paul went right and created the space he needed to leave Allen a step behind.

“What can you do? The kid made a great shot,” Hollins said. “That’s what great players do and he’s a great player.”

Paul ruined a sensational bounce-back game from Conley, the Memphis point guard who doesn’t generate nearly the headlines he deserves. He finished with 28 points and nine assists, the final one coming as he patiently waited for the play to develop then drilled the cutting Marc Gasol with a pass for an uncontested dunk that tied the game.

Memphis has two days to figure out how to get back in this series on its home floor. Paul, with 47 points, 16 assists and just two turnovers in the series, is just one problem. The Clippers’ bench is whole other animal. Del Negro has made good on his promise to keep his rotation deep and to use players as he sees fit. He’s used six players off the bench in each of the first two games with stunning results.

Crawford, disappointed earlier in the day when he found out that he finished second in Kia Sixth Man of the Year voting to the New York Knicks’ J.R. Smith — comparing it to the slight he felt when passed over for the All-Star team — made his first six shots of the game. He finished with 15 points and three steals.

He led a second unit that should seriously alarm the Grizz. Five Clippers subs opened the second quarter with the score tied and Memphis using two starters and three subs. Seven minutes down and L.A.’s super subs had a three-point lead.

This kind of thing just doesn’t happen in the NBA playoffs. Five subs don’t take on five starters. Yet that was the case in the fourth quarter when the group of Crawford, Eric Bledsoe, Matt Barnes, Lamar Odom and Ronny Turiaf began the fourth quarter with an 8-0 spurt for an 83-71 lead.

That came with Conley and Zach Randolph playing with three subs. It didn’t last long, as Hollins quickly got his starting five back in there to keep from a second consecutive fourth-quarter blowout.

The Clippers’ razzle-dazzle second unit whips the ball around, finds cutters and slashers for dunks, make steals and chases down rebounds. 

“For us, when teams get tired or get weaker, we get stronger,” Crawford said. “That can be a huge advantage.”

When that group finally petered out and the proud Grizz made a charge, CP3 or MVP, whatever you want to call him, was there to finish the job.

17 Comments

  1. Alan says:

    All I have to say is Thank you to all you haters , your hate makes this Clipper team stronger , makes them drive harder, makes Jamal Crawford cross harder snap ankles harder, makes Griffin jump higher, makes Billups want another championship , pushes Lamar Odom to return as he once was, makes the Lakers regret they let go of Matt Barnes, makes Willie Green want to be on the floor more. You just watch enjoy these “clutch” plays from CP3 I believe this Clipper team CAN take it all the way.

  2. BJ says:

    was it just me or did anyone notice that Charles had really nothing good to say about the Cippers? they won the first game convincingly and the second game you expect for MEM to make their adjustments and come out and play harder. but the Clippers buckled down and won antoher one with the heroic effort from CP3.

    this nut still has nothing good to say talking about they can’t win like that over a series? who said they would have to play like that in every game of the series? they won by a decent margin the first game, fought hard and squeaked by the second game. Why cant the Clippers continue to make the necessary adjustments to win games….. anyway they can and anyway they come out?

    Utterly ridiculous. the Clippers need to go all the way to shut all the haters up and they have a vey good chance of doing just that.

  3. BJ says:

    CP3 has proven over and over that he’s one of the greatest. I am truly enjoying watching the playoffs this season. the teams are great and its difficult to say who’s going to take it. The Clippers have a chance to go all the way just like any other team right now. The Clips have a chance just like OKC, MIA, SAS, DEN, NYC, CHI, GSW, etc.

    all these teams are playing at their highest level right now.

  4. [...] Lamar Odom, Los Angeles Clippers, Memphis Grizzlies, Mike Conley, Tony Allen, Zach Randolph / 8 Comments [...]

  5. LordP says:

    CP3..what a gamer..you can call him clutch..CP3 more clutch than all Lakers roster(which includes Ko Be)

  6. [...] Incredible CP3 Finishes Off Team Win (hangtime.blogs.nba.com) [...]

  7. Francisco says:

    CP3 is a great closer(proven stats ) he is only behind Melo in the last 24 seconds of the game for a 45.5%

  8. Fee la Zone says:

    Let say CP3 got a lucky shot, now can we say that all game winner were also lucky shots? It’s just like u were saying, u take bath, but truthfully u didn’t.

  9. Fee la Zone says:

    Yah, Paul executed a lucky shot, but MEM also lucky to tie the score from 12-point deficit in the 4th qtr. I’m not kidding, lets see what will happen.

    There’s nothing wrong,

    That’s was my prediction, it’s not yours.
    *SAS, DEN, GSW, & LAL are all limping because, SAS— duncan is aging, Jackson was injured & waived, Jackson not equal to t-mac; DEN— Gallinari was injured; GSW— Lee is out, Bogut is inconsistent coming from injury; LAL— no Kobe, Nash struggling.
    *That was my Prediction, not yours. Prince is not equal to Rudy Gay, Gasol-Randolph-Allen-Conley need to double the effort to cope up the Gay blank
    * Great chance to be champ this year cuz clips need only to overcome OKC. They can beat whoever in the team in West. They also beat MIA

    NOW WHATS URS?

  10. allaroundballer says:

    If you’re playing basketball, you know that wasn’t lucky shoot. You got to make a bankshoot when you’re off balance and under pressure like that, especially from the side off board. What else anyway???

  11. Fee la Zone says:

    I was already expecting b4 that LAC & OKC will face-off in the WC-Finals, but they will not. How unfair for both of them since they both deserve to reach the WC-Finals. SAS, DEN, GSW, & LAL are all limping right now.

    BTW, i predict LAC will sweep MEM. Now MEM know what’s wrong they do, THEY TRADE GAY” . MEM can compete to LAC if they have Gay.

    Go Clippers! Great chance to be NBA 2012-2013 CHAMP!

    • Great chance to be NBA Champ lol great joke….you gotta be kidding me…seriously…that was a lucky shot

      • BJ says:

        the Clips have just a good of a chance than any other team right now, why is that so hard to believe? Every player in the league that has been in the same position, threw up a lucky shot and made it. why is CP3’s being critisized so harshly? I mean get real.

        The Clippers went into the playoffs on a 7 game winnning streak, now they are at 9 games and counting. they are playing like they played when they were on their 17 game winning strak back in Dec. and they dind’t play OKC during that stretch. this second round against OKC is going to be a monster round for both teams. I am loving these games today.

    • So many things wrong with this comment.

    • Kei says:

      Mem was playing bad last night and still hanging with Clips. Clips blew a 10 point lead at 4th quarter and It just came down on one last shot. Problem was never Rudy Gay(He wasn’t in the playoff last season) It was Jamal was hitting some tough 1 on 3 shots. Clips half court set game was bad with iso and 4 guys standing around and I suspect Jamal can bail them out for the next game. I still think MEM won’t be sweep and will eventuallly make it a series. Still, Clips in 7.

      • LaClips says:

        gay missed playoffs in 2011 & played last year but fact that people keep insisting he missed last year shows how ineffective he was…