We didn’t see anything special from Chris Paul or Blake Griffin, yet the Los Angeles Clippers looked quite pleased walking off the court in a game that proved once again that this team has the right mix of players, stars and bench guys to make this season the greatest in the history of the franchise, even if it means that winning basketball isn’t going to be as flashy as we’ve gotten used to seeing from them on certain nights.
Getting home court advantage seems to be a must entering the final days of the season, and by winning five games in a row, the Clippers are two relatively easy wins from completing their quest of being a worthy 4 seed, at least, in the Western conference. They knew the big key was going to be a win in Memphis, and they beat the Grizzlies 91-87 to claim the season series, giving them a win over a team they met in the first round of the playoffs last season, and are now likely to meet once again when the playoffs begin next week.
Now we control our own destiny. Before this, we had certain things that had to happen in order for us to move up. Now, if we want home court, we control it.
Chris Paul finished with 13 points and 5 assists in a rough, physical, defensive struggle between two teams that don’t like each other too much, and the matchup between them seems so close and even, it comes down to making big plays in the final seconds each time. In that aspect, with a player like Paul, having to fight all day through the scratching arms of Tony Allen and Mike Conley, the Clippers have the advantage.
Paul made a free throw with 18.3 second left to give the Clippers the big enough cushion in a game that was a playoff one in terms of atmosphere and the intensity. The Grizzlies didn’t live up to the hype and the importance of the stage, showing their infamous cold stretch on offense, going the final 3:33 with only one field goal, in what might cost them the home advantage in the first round.
The Clippers got Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan on their grittiest, making their best to limit the duo of Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol, while letting go of their own stats. No one made any special contributions from the bench, but the nine points from both Jamal Crawford and Eric Bledsoe, compared with Jared Bayless who did more harm than good in his minutes on the floor were part of the slight difference the Clippers had swinging in their favor.