OKLAHOMA CITY — Something told me not to turn away, not to go to sleep on the final game of wild and crazy opening weekend of the NBA playoffs.
Even when the Grizzlies lead reached 27 points and the crowd was losing its collective mind at the sight of the home team roasting the Los Angeles Clippers, my basketball conscience wouldn’t let me turn the channel.
For the longest time it was like watching one of those Animal Planet specials where the water buffalo are trying to cross the river and the crocodiles keep snatching them and dragging them under water. You want to stop watching … but you can’t.
But this time, the water buffalo turned the tables at the end.
I’ll never go to sleep early on these games again. Not after what the Clippers did last night, staging an epic comeback and finishing the game on a 28-3 run, sparked by a Reggie Evans layup with 7:54 to play, to shock Memphis and the Grizzlies with a 99-98 Game 1 win.
I’d have never believed it if I hadn’t watched it for myself. And it’s always fun witnessing history, even if it comes at the expense of our beloved Hang Time Grizzlies.
Speaking of history, the Clippers had some on their side this season. Fifteen times they won games after trailing by 10 or more points, per Elias Sports. But down 27 in the Grind House … when the Grizzlies had it working in ever way imaginable, including my main man Zach Randolph doing push ups … and with Chris Paul struggling with that groin injury … Caron Butler in a suit after breaking his hand … and Blake Griffin just struggling in his playoff debut … there was no way this was happening.
Oh, but it did.
Paul came through as he almost always does at winning time, dishing out seven assists in the fourth quarter alone. Nick Young nailed those three monster 3-pointers Reggie Miller-style (all in one minute) and the Clippers flipped the script in the toughness department, out-rebounding the Grizzlies 16-4.
When Kenyon Martin stuck that hand in Rudy Gay‘s face to bother that last shot, there were no miracles left in the building. The Grizzlies’ nine-minute scoring drought was just as startling as the comeback.