Live From the Couch: Grizzlies/Clippers

by Justin Cherot

10:32- Killing time waiting for the game to start, so I might as well check out the ending of the Spurs/Jazz game just so I can say I watched a couple minutes of this boring, lopsided series.  Guess it really says something when Utah fans are jacked up about being down six with 1:18 left in regulation.  Of course, because of what happened in Game 1 of the Clips/Grizz series, anything is possible.

10:36- With Utah rallying and a chance to cut it to a one possession game, Paul Millsap commits a costly turnover leading to a Manu Ginobili fast-break lay-up.  Essentially, that’s ball game.  Guess Al Jefferson was right… at least about the Jazz having no chance, not about saying they had no chance.  Time will tell if they’re really as untouchable as Jefferson portrays them to be.

10:42- “They’re so deep, and they’re so good.” Matt Devlin forgot to say, “Pause.”

1st Quarter

10:46 PM- Quick prediction before tip: I think Memphis pulls out a close one on the road, for no reason other than I’m rooting for at least ONE competitive first round series (even though you can make the argument that the Dallas Mavericks did put up the best fight in getting swept… doesn’t quite sound right, does it?).

10:51- I like Tony Allen starting out on Chris Paul.  He’s such a defensive nuisance for 94 feet.

10:57- Caron Butler is an absolute warrior.  Playing with a broken bone in his left hand, he has all eight of the Clippers’ points, including a driving dunk in traffic.  They’re still trailing 12-8, but it’s a good sign for L.A. that he’s contributing early after only scoring four last time out.

11:02- I know coaches love to tell their point guards not to over-dribble or leave their feet to pass, but because guards like Paul and Steve Nash do it with such a high rate of success, what can you really tell your kids, “Avert your eyes from greatness”?

11:04- LOB CITY!!!!!!!!!!  Paul to DeAndre Jordan  for the transition oop.  In my best “Billy Crystal  from Tooth Fairy” voice, “Never gets old.”  Yes, that was somewhat obscure, but what do you expect from someone who watches a lot of kids movies?  And yes, the parallelism (because Crystal is a big Clippers’ fan) was intentional.

11:06- Both the Clippers and Grizzlies are on fire from three, each shooting 3/5.  26-23 Clips with 2:15 left in the first.

11:12- James Harden goes to the line for the Grizz… wait, nevermind, that’s O.J. Mayo.  Can part of the new CBA be limiting the length on these Rick Ross-esque beards?  Awuh!

Quick tangent (I promise): You watch hours and hours of tape throughout the duration of the series, right?  Even if you don’t, you play a team four times a year typically if you’re in the same conference, not to mention that you’ve played that team the year before in a playoff series.

My point is this: you do realize that Harden is LEFT-handed, don’t you?

And with that, I’m done with the Mavs for 2011-12.  Great title defense, guys, and apparently there’s only a 50% chance of getting better next year.

As I just furiously pounded the keyboard, I lost sight of the fact that the Clippers lead the Grizzlies 32-26 after uno.

2nd Quarter

11:20- Maybe I’m just a bitter ex-drinker, but that new Corona commercial is nonsensical.  Unless you slip an acid tab in that Corona (hypothetically), it’s not that much different of an experience from other beers.  Just sayin’.

11:23- Reggie Evans has the world’s biggest nicotine patch on his shoulder.

11:27- The Clippers’ bigs can leap tall buildings (and Kias) in a single bound and get all the adulation.  The Grizzlies’ bigs grind it out at their job all day so that they can make a living.  Give me the Clark Kents who don’t take their talent for granted all day.

11:32- Eric Bledsoe is going to be a good starting point guard for somebody one day.  He’s built like a running back and has a nose for getting to the rim.

11:35- LOB CITY!!!!  This time it’s Mo Williams to Blake Griffin, giving the Clips a 43-36 lead and the crowd a lobgasm.

11:39- Look who’s in the crowd!  Mr. Crystal!  “Never gets old.”

11:41- Marc Gasol clotheslines Evans.  Zach Randolph gets tied up with Griffin for an extended amount of time after the whistle.  Evans politely tells Gasol to foul him harder.  This is hardcore, body to body, anti-Justin Cherot basketball!

11:43- Just as I said that, Randolph just chest-bumped Griffin, who Reggie Miller-flopped backwards.  Not only is Griffin playing out of his mind in this first half with 16 and eight, he’s pissed off an already partially unstable Randolph.  50-40 Clippers.

11:48- “You’re eating Walmart steak.”  That’s exactly what I want to hear when I shell out big bucks to go to a fancy restaurant.  Not that I frequently shell out big bucks to go to a fancy restaurant.

11:51- Can someone tell whoever is shooting with Griffin at the free throw line that they’re not flicking the right analog stick quick enough?

11:54- Dick Stockton and Chris Webber are killing Gasol for not demanding enough touches, but Jordan is doing a pretty good job of making sure he doesn’t catch it in his comfort zone.  Instead of catching the ball six to eight feet away from the rim, Jordan is forcing him to post near the elbow.  That said, the Grizz should feel pretty good being down six (51-45) with less than a minute left in the half despite little production from Gasol.

11:57- KENYON MARTIN!!!!!  Huge block right before halftime preserves the Clippers six-point halftime lead.

Halftime Channel Cruising

12:00 AM (FX)- “Prestige Worldwide… wide… wide… wide.”

12:02- “Wait… who’s steering the boat???”  Step Brothers.  Classic.

12:04 (HBO)- “Oh, just relax there, Jodi Foster.”  Am I the only person who finds Horrible Bosses  to be one of the most re-watchable comedies of the past few years?  I can’t be.

12:06 (finally back to TNT)- Charles Barkley regarding tomorrow’s quartet of games: “I’m thinkin’ trout, bass, marlin, dolphin… there’s gonna be fishin’ tomorrow night.”  First of all, he definitely went to the Justin Cherot School of Parallelism, naming four fish for four games (and first of all, I went to Barkley’s School of Starting a Sentence With “First of All”).  You can easily see why he received an Emmy.

12:12- First of all, Justin needs a Pepsi for the second half.

3rd Quarter

12:18- Paul has the absolute quietest 11-5-5 in basketball history.  You’re sneaky, CP3.

12:20- A struggling Rudy Gay  (2-10 so far) hits two free throws to cut the deficit to two.  Seems like the Clips are dominating, but it goes back to that whole Clark Kent analogy.

12:27- Griffin and Jordan need to lock themselves in a gym this summer and learn how to shoot free throws.  And meanwhile, Webber is going HAM on Griffin about flopping and “embellishing” the effect of contact.

Speaking of Webber, he is currently my favorite color guy on any of the basketball-carrying networks.  He brings tremendous perspective from his years as a star player with the delivery of an announcer who’s been doing this forever.  Sucks that we had to find out about his stellar announcing skills only because he got kicked out of the TNT studio for Dr. Shaquille O’Neal.

12:35- To say that Hamed Haddadi looks uncomfortable would be an understatement.

12:37- Gay gets an impossible “and one” over two Clippers’ defenders.  Good shot and all, but a great illustration of how hard L.A. is making him work tonight.

12:40- Heading into the TV time-out, Dante Cunningham subtly shoulder-nudges Paul after a foul, which of course upsets CP3.  Gay came over to play peacemaker, and it seemed like Paul said something to the effect of, “Handle your boy.  We might be teammates this summer, and you do want the ball, don’t you?”  65-62 L.A.

12:46- My bad for completely ignoring the fact that Mike Conley, Jr. is having a ridiculous game with 19 points.  Probably out of habit.  For kicks, you should try this exercise with your friends: see how many point guards they can name before they get to Conley.  I’ll take the over on 15.  Let me know if I’m right.

69-64 Clippers after three.  Weird game.  It really seems like L.A. is up like eight to 10 points, but Memphis is two stops away from being even… remarkable considering how subpar Gay and Gasol have been.

4th Quarter

12:54- The Clippers big men (Evans and Martin) are playing straight up jail ball with Haddadi.

12:55- Gay put-back dunk brings the Grizz within one.  Here we go.

12:58- Haddadi splits a pair of free throws and gives the Grizzlies their first lead since 4:11 left in the first quarter.  I just checked with Vegas and the odds of me typing that last sentence prior to the start of the game were 13.5 million to one.  70-69 Memphis.

1:03- Wowsers.  Griffin “and one” dunk on Haddadi, hits subsequent free throw to put the Clippers back up two, 74-72.  What a slugfest!

1:06- Big three by Nick Young, who was the hero in Game 1 with his shooting exploits.  77-72 L.A. with 6:15 left.  Somewhere JaVale McGee is taking the “Cinnamon Challenge”.

1:11- Griffin with a nice foul on Gasol.  These two will not be sending each other Christmas cards anytime soon.  And to think: we might see them go at it this summer in the Olympics as well.

1:12- Mo Williams’ three extends the lead to 10, but Gay comes right back with a floater to bring it back to eight.  More importantly, they showed a graphic of Gay’s shooting: 5/21.  Testament to how hard the Clippers’ wings–Butler and Young, not exactly defensive juggernauts–are defending Gay.

1:18- No quit in these Grizzlies.  Conley with a three, giving him 21 points on 8/11 shooting.  More importantly, a timely 7-0 run by Memphis to get them within three at 84-81 with 2:59 left.

1:22- Despite Mo Williams being the only guy back, Allen blows a fast break lay-up.  Can’t happen.

1:23- Randolph nails a wide-open jumper with the shot clock winding down, cutting the lead back to two.

Good to see this one coming down to the wire.  I thought for a second that the JCKOD was in full effect for diary games.

1:26- Thanks to Allen’s disruptive defense, Grizzlies force a 24-second violation.  Memphis ball, 1:01 left.  

1:28- KENYON MARTIN FLASHBACK GAME!!!  He’s been active, ruffling feathers and blocking shots at the rim, this time on Gay, forcing a jump ball.

1:31- Gay isolates on Griffin, gets into the lane and hits a step back jumper to tie it up at 85 with 35.5 left.

Just guessing here, but given Vinny Del Negro‘s traditionally diverse half-court sets, I predict Paul will dribble the shot-clock down to six and try to make a move.

1:34- Paul went earlier than I anticipated, got around Allen and all the way to the rim for the lay-in.  87-85, 26.9 left.

Since I’m on such a roll, I’ll go with a Gay isolation after some Conley milking.

1:36- I called it: Mayo dumps it off to Randolph on the drive, who gets fouled.  Randolph hits both freebies to square it at 87 with 20.4 left.

Um, something with Paul.  Late in shot clock.

1:38- And this is why Tony Allen is in the league.  Paul could probably tell you what brand of jock itch cream Allen uses after that epic defensive clinic (with solid help defense from Gay).

OVERTIME!!!  FREE BASKETBALL!!!

1:42- Paul turnover to start overtime.  After watching this game, it’s clear to me that the MVP–by it’s pure definition of giving it to the most VALUABLE player in the NBA–this season is Paul.  Why?  Besides the obvious reason that they were awful before he got there despite all the talent, he has to do EVERYTHING and has helped the Clippers be successful despite any sort of offensive imagination from the coaching staff.

1:45- Right on cue, Paul fade-away extends the Clipper lead to three.

1:46- Two straight offensive rebounds deep in the shot clock, and a Griffin “and-one” caps the possession.  He even decides to hit the free throw to put the Clippers up 95-89 with 2:26 left…

1:47- …and he fouls out.  With the Clippers clinging to a four-point lead, now it’s ALL on Paul (as if it wasn’t before but now it’s just more obvious).

1:51- Yeah, Paul’s pretty good.  Knocks down a fade-away 15-footer, making it a six-point ball game with 44.5 left.

MVP!!!  MVP!!!  MVP!!!  Is it too late to vote?  27 points, nine rebounds, seven assists.

1:55– Not over though.  Gasol dunk, Grizz stop and Conley lay-up cuts the deficit to two, 99-97.  The Clippers take a weird time-out prior to inbounding to Williams… a pretty good free throw shooter.  Hope that doesn’t come back to bite their nipples.

1:59- Williams hits one, and the Grizz call an “ice-the-shooter” time-out.  You never know.

2:01- Yep, Williams is true.  101-97 with 7.2 left.

2:03-  Gay three-pointer is way off, and what do you know, the Los Angeles Clippers are one win away from advancing to round two, taking this one 101-97 in overtime to push their series’ lead to 3-1 over Memphis.

2:05 (HBO)– “I’m a green belt, mother…”  Going to sleep to another showing of Horrible Bosses.

  

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