Spurs 87, Jazz 81 (SAS wins 4-0)
Get out the brooms, everyone. The San Antonio Spurs got redemption after an early first-round exit last year as a No.1 seed with a sweep of the Utah Jazz, taking Game 4, 87-81.
“We always want to win. You always want to go as far as you can, and of course last year was frustrating. It’s always hard when you go home after the first round,” said Manu Ginobili in comparing each of the first-round series over the past two years. “But like I said many times, last year the Grizzlies played better than us. When that happens, you can’t do much but shake their hands and congratulate them and get ready for the next season. I think we played better this year. We didn’t let them (the Jazz) get in the game. We played very solid basketball. We didn’t play an opponent as good or as sharp as Memphis was last year.”
In a relatively poor offensive night for the San Antonio’s starting lineup, the Spurs’ bench picked up the slack, outscoring Utah’s bench 57-10. Manu Ginobili led the charge with 17 points off the bench. Despite finishing with just a 37 percent field goal percentage, San Antonio continued its hot shooting from behind the arc—shooting 45 percent in the contest.
Utah competed hard throughout the contest, as they cut a 21-point lead to 83-79 with a minute left to play. But the Jazz ran out of gas in the closing seconds. Al Jefferson had a great game, scoring 26 points and grabbing 10 rebounds.
“Looking at it from the beginning of the game I thought that our guys showed a lot of class as they have done all year—just continued to fight, Said Utah coach Tyrone Corbin. “Our backs were up against the wall right from the beginning. If we win, lose or draw, we are going to give everything we have.”
While Utah has a young team that showed a lot of promise for the future, the seasoned vets were just too much for them in this series. San Antonio will get some rest now as they await the winner of the Memphis-L.A Clippers series. —Christian Mordi (@mordi_thecomeup)
Clippers 101, Grizzlies 97 (OT) (LAC leads 3-1)
There’s this big, hazy cloud over last night’s Clippers-Grizzlies game and it’s distracting us from how good Chris Paul is and how we should all be buying his shirts and shoes and jars of sweat for cloning purposes. So let’s address it right away.
Blake Griffin was very gently caressed a couple of times by Memphis’ big men—from Zach Randolph to Marc Gasol to Mike Tyson’s Punchout character Hamed Haddadi—and fouls were called. They weren’t fouls, and Blake pretended like the sun had fallen on him.
It was probably enough to swing the game, to keep Gasol off the floor (he had four fouls and two shot attempts entering the fourth quarter), and to get the Grizzlies out of rhythm and desperate for big men solutions. This set of refs probably coddled Blake a little and fed into his bad flopping habit.
But he also scored 30 points on 10-15 shooting and exhibited real, human post moves for the first time in his NBA postseason life. The fouls had to do with almost none of it. This was enough to keep the Clippers afloat while Vinny Del Negro made bad decisions waiting for Chris Paul to do his end-of-the-game thing.
The Clippers won 101-97 in overtime. Los Angeles is a win away from trying to make the Spurs feel all sad and deflated by their spryness in the West Semis.
Oh, it seems like we jumped right over the overtime part, but it wasn’t much. The Clippers were up 10 with 5:11 left. Memphis snuck back in it in that very Memphis kind of way. (“Wait, they’re down 6?”)
It wasn’t until Mike Conley hit his pull-up 3 with 2:59 left that you saw what kind of day he was having. Dude netted 25 points so quietly you’d need to get NASA involved to remember any of it.
Rudy Gay jumped in and tried to out-Chris Paul Chris Paul. Nobody out-Chris Pauls Chris Paul, obviously, but he pretended not to know this.
Rudy hit an unbeatable contested jumpshot with 35 seconds left. It tied the game. It was only unbeatable for nine seconds, though. CP skipped the breaking of Tony Allen’s ankles and just cut them off altogether at the free throw line.
He got a free layup with 27 seconds left in a tied playoff game. The guy would like you to pay attention to how painfully good he is.
Zach Randolph tied it with free throws on the other end. There was an overtime, but it was just a series of sequences that ended in Chris Paul getting more points. He had eight in overtime. Almost all on contested jumpshots.
Blake contributed four more. He showed off a couple of post moves. It wasn’t much, but it was effective when he wanted it to be. It was something. And something is scary.
Here’s why: This game went to overtime and it never felt like it was in danger the entire second half. Not once. Whatever the Memphis did, it felt like CP would do the same thing by himself, plus two.
Thing is, a lot of people knew he was going to be the best player in the West in these Playoffs. And this is still making us all look stupid and unprepared.
The closest analogy is Dirk Nowitzki last year. The next closest analogy is Michael Jordan. I’m not getting carried away. —Ben Collins