Post Up: Counter Attack

by April 22, 2014

Grizzlies 111 – Thunder 105 OT (Series tied 1-1)

So, um, there was a game last night. Memphis officially made this first round match-up a series, after claiming their overtime win against Oklahoma City to tie everything up at one game apiece.

The Grizzlies won, despite this Russell Westbrook fast break and power slam off of one of Serge Ibaka’s five blocks to cut Memphis’ lead to 1, with about three minutes to go in the fourth quarter:

The Grizzlies won, despite this unbelievable four-point play with 13.3 remaining in regulation that made both the Chesapeake Energy Arena and the Twitterverse explode, courtesy of the one and only Kevin Durant:

The Grizzlies won, despite Kendrick Perkins shooting 100 percent from the field…as this was his only attempt—a putback at the buzzer to tie the game at 99 and send this party to overtime:

A well-timed Mike Miller three, Zach Randolph’s 25 points (eight of those coming in OT), 14 points in 14 minutes from Beno Udrih, a double-double from Mike Conley (19 points and 12 assists), and strong defense especially from Tony Allen gave Memphis the edge in Game 2.

The team, as a whole, shot just under 50 percent from the field. The team, as a whole, never lost its composure.

The Grizz showed up for Game 2 prepared and with a plan, and they didn’t let anything the Thunder did early or late in the game suck away their energy or blind their sight.

They didn’t have time to stand awestruck like the rest of us when the Thunder delivered the show-stopping, highlight reel-making plays above. Because they had defense to play. Points to score. A game to win. A series to start.

This newly-born series moves to Memphis on Thursday for Game 3, where the Grizz are on a 14-game winning streak. But with the Thunder’s Game 2 rally coming up short, anything less than an A-level performance from either team will require an explanation. In other words, expectations are high, and another game must be coming our way.—Habeeba Husain

Warriors 98 – Clippers 138 (Series tied 1-1)

Blake Griffin was in the middle of answering a question about playing without foul trouble when Chris Paul glanced at the box score in front of him and blurted out, “You didn’t have any?” Paul asked, referring to the goose egg in the personal foul column for Griffin.

Seated next to Paul in the press room, Griffin smiled and sarcastically said, “That’s how it works sometimes.” Following a foul-riddled Game 1 showing that had him on the floor for under 20 minutes, the Blake Show returned to full throttle on Monday night at Staples for a magnificent 35-point performance that fueled the Clippers to a stunning 138-98 blowout. “You saw it tonight, how dominant he is,” Paul said. “When we play that way we play with that poise and it’s tough to defend us.”

Griffin’s intensity flowed from the tip as he quickly got to cooking with 14 first-quarter points. None of the big men the Warriors threw at him stood a chance on this night. “Blake’s a guy they made a conscious effort to go to more today after he struggled in Game 1,” David Lee said. “The thing we talked about limiting were him getting buckets in transition, him getting to the foul line, offensive rebounds and tap ins—easy buckets that make the game easier for him and the rest of those guys.”

But there would be no limiting Griffin and the Clippers sailed into the second quarter up 11 before their bench heated up, led by Danny Granger and Hedo Turkoglu. L.A. pushed their lead to 26 at the half and never looked back. “Our bench came in and turned up the pressure and they did it defensively,” Griffin said. Granger finished with 15 points off the bench while Turk added 13 and Darren Collison chipped in 12.

Golden State could not find a rhythm offensively as Steph Curry struggled mightily in the first half with a 1-5 performance from the floor. He had a 20-point outburst in the third quarter but the game was way out of reach by then. Near the end of the third and down by 30 points, Curry’s frustrations boiled over after a non-call, throwing his mouthpiece to the ground and earning a technical foul from the referee, his first of the year.

“Just frustrated and obviously the score had a lot to do with it,” Curry said. “I felt like I was getting to the basket trying to get some contact and wasn’t getting a call. Obviously just voicing my opinion at that specific time.”

Four of the five Clippers starters finished in double figures with DeAndre Jordan piecing together a splendid performance anchoring the defense. Jordan finished with 11 points, 9 rebounds and 5 blocks. Matt Barnes added 13 points and CP3 dropped 12 points, 10 assists, 6 rebounds and 5 steals.

Curry led the way for Golden State with 24 points while Lee, Draymond Green and Steve Blake each added 11.

With the series tied at 1-1, the Clippers will travel to Oakland on Wednesday to face a rowdy Warriors crowd in Oracle arena. CP3 said Barnes has been prepping L.A. on what to expect. “Matt played for them so he’s told everybody how exciting and loud it’s going to be.”—Nima Zarrabi