The Dallas Mavericks get treated with a four-game homestand after their first overtime win in eight tries this season. The Mavs battled through an impossible bank-in 3-point shot from Isaiah Thomas to send the game into the extra frame. In the end a Demarcus Cousins flagrant 2 foul on Vince Carter sealed the 117-112 win.
Tonight the Memphis Grizzlies visit the American Airlines Center, following an OT game and win of their own last night at home against the San Antonio Spurs.
It was a much need victory for the Mavericks on Thursday night. Already sliding swiftly down the Western conference standings, the OT win prevented them from setting the NBA record for consecutive losses in overtime games.
Despite their 14-23 record, the Mavs have a winning mark at home. That however will be tested with some quality opponents making their way through town this week. The 24-10 Grizzlies start the homestand and will seek their second victory over the Mavs, defeating them earlier this season in Memphis 105-95.
Dallas’ focus in this game needs to be one game at a time. Build on the win in Sacramento.
“It’s a baby step in the right direction. We just got to keep crawling.”
Those words from Mavs forward Shawn Marion after he and his team were confident they’d win the game on Thursday as it entered OT. Marion has been voicing his frustrations to the media without filter and it’s about time the Mavs turned around and got a W.
The Grizzlies present a unique challenge for the guys tonight because of their incredibly talented front court of Rudy Gay, Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol. Gay has the athleticism and length that thrives at the SF spot while big men Z-Bo and Gasol lack the athleticism, but make up for it with rebounding, hustle and crafty skills to score the ball.
Dallas is watching their star Dirk Nowitzki ease back into his usual form each and every game. The shooting percentages aren’t pretty, but his effectiveness is. The game changes for both teams when Dirk is on the floor. His presence means everything.
Dirk has gotten help from his teammates though which will be much needed tonight. Vince Carter poured in 23 points against the Kings, making 16 trips to the free throw line. O.J. Mayo added his first double-double of the year with 24 points and 10 rebounds. Marion chipped in his own double-double of 19 and 10.
A win tonight surely would provide even more confidence for the Mavs who have been looking to turn grueling efforts in wins.
They go for two straight wins for the first time since Dec. 8th and 10th, wins over Houston and Sacramento.
The action starts at 8:00 p.m. CT and airs on FSSW/SPSO.
Kenyon Martin scored seven of his 11 points in the fourth quarter, and the Clippers advanced to the Western Conference semifinals with an 82-72 win over the Memphis Grizzlies in Game 7 on Sunday.
“That’s why it’s seven games,” Martin said. “If you don’t do it before, you get another chance. So they did what they had to do, they came and stole home court back on our floor. … We had a chance to close it out. We knew we let it go, an opportunity get away.”
The Clippers blew an eight-point lead in the fourth quarter Friday night. So Martin huddled the Clippers together at the start of the fourth quarter Sunday, and the veteran led the bench in outscoring the Grizzlies 25-16.Chris Paul had the only bucket by a starter in the final 12 minutes, and the Clippers’ bench outscored the Memphis reserves 41-11 overall.
“Our bench was our MVP,” Clippers guard Randy Foye said. “They realized what they had to do. We had a lot of guys hurt, so we just continued to grind.”
Now, the Clippers have their third postseason series win in 41 years and their second since relocating to Los Angeles. They last beat Denver in 2006. The Clippers also avoided becoming the ninth NBA team to blow a 3-1 lead in a best-of-seven series in moving on to play the top-seeded Spurs starting Tuesday night in San Antonio.
“I want the guys to enjoy this, and then we’ll regroup tomorrow and focus in on that,” Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro said. “But obviously another big challenge for us.”
Paul scored 19 points despite playing with a strained right hip flexor. Nick Young had nine of his 13 off the bench in the fourth as the Clippers finished off the series with their biggest margin of victory. Paul was so confident of victory he bought plane tickets for his wife and son to San Antonio on Saturday.
“I felt like we should have won earlier,” Paul said. “But it doesn’t matter. As long as you win, I think it is a step in the right direction for our franchise.
Rudy Gay and Marc Gasol each had 19 for Memphis, which lost a Game 7 at Oklahoma City a year ago in the second round of the playoffs.Zach Randolph had a game-high 12 rebounds.
“Unfortunately, no one on the bench stepped up and helped us,” Memphis coach Lionel Hollins said.
The Clippers, who trailed 56-55 after three quarters, took control by opening the fourth with an 11-2 run started by a jumper by Martin. He tipped in a shot for a 66-58 lead with 8:41 left. Mo Williams matched the Clippers’ biggest lead to that point at 10 with a 3-pointer pushing it to 71-61 with 7:04 left in a 16-5 spurt to open the quarter.
“They hit shots in a hurry,” Gay said of the Clippers. “They made plays off our turnovers, and they just converted, something we weren’t doing at that time.”
Los Angeles finished off the win by hitting 9 of 10 free throws in the final 3:26. The Clippers also managed to outrebound the Grizzlies 46-44 for only the second time this series.
Memphis got away from the inside-out approach that won the last two games. The Grizzlies outscored the Clippers 36-24, but Randolph said they took far too many jumpers instead of feeding the ball to Gasol and himself.
“You have to take your hats off to them because they played good,” Randolph said of the Clippers. “Chris had a good game, and their bench played terrific.”
The home-court advantage that didn’t help the Grizzlies when they blew a 27-point lead in Game 1 didn’t help again Sunday as they went cold from the floor. Gasol’s one-handed dunk with 3:09 left was Memphis’ last field goal down the stretch as the Grizzlies hit only 4 of 18 in the fourth quarter and finished the game missing all 13 3-pointers.
This series has been physical and grinding from the opening tip, and neither team backed down in a winner-take-all game.
The Clippers and Grizzlies scrapped and fought for every ball with each possession feeling like a knockdown, drag-out fight. Memphis should have had an advantage against the hobbled Clippers tipping off when they usually eat breakfast on the West Coast. Blake Griffinscored only eight points and looked tentative most of the game with a sprained left knee.
Del Negro said Griffin’s knee tightened up on him as the game went on, and Griffin played only 1:39 of the fourth quarter. Not that it mattered the way the Clippers’ bench came through.
The Grizzlies even brought out wrestler Jerry Lawler to help stoke up the sold-out crowd, but both teams showed the fatigue of a quick turnaround from Game 6 on Friday night in Los Angeles. The Clippers missed nine of their first 10 shots, while the Grizzlies missed seven of nine.
“It was Game 7 pressure and jitters,” Hollins said. “We wanted to do well. We just wanted to let it rip. You walk up here and have two strikes on you in the ninth inning and you have to let it rip. And we didn’t.”
The Clippers shook off the exhaustion thanks to their bench.
The Grizzlies managed to pull within 39-38 at halftime even though they kept struggling to find the basket. Mike Conley missed his first seven shots with his drought stretching to the free throw line where he missed his first attempt. Conley didn’t hit his first bucket until a jumper in the early seconds of the third quarter. Conley finished with seven points on 2 of 13 shooting.
Del Negro now is 1-1 in Game 7s, losing his first in the 2009 first-round while coaching Chicago against Boston. Hollins now is 0-2 in Game 7s. … Griffin finished playing 28 minutes and was 3 of 11 from the floor. He had four rebounds. … The Grizzlies shot 32.5 percent (25 of 77) from the floor, their worst percentage of the series.
The Memphis Grizzlies believe they finally played their grinding, bruising style of basketball in the playoffs.
Just in time, too.
Marc Gasol scored 23 points and Zach Randolph added 19 as the Grizzlies avoided elimination by beating the Los Angeles Clippers 92-80 on Wednesday night, forcing a Game 6 in the Western Conference first-round series.
“We’ve had our backs against the wall. We still have them,” said Gasol, who had his best game in this series. “We haven’t done anything yet, and we want to take it back to L.A. and give them another big battle.”
With Gasol and Randolph scoring early, the Grizzlies looked like the team that knocked off top-seeded San Antonio last spring and took Oklahoma City to seven games in the conference semifinals as they pulled within 3-2 in this series.
Game 6 is Friday night in Los Angeles. If the Grizzlies can win, Game 7 would be Sunday in Memphis. Not that the Clippers plan on returning to Tennessee.
“Our Game 7′s Friday,” Clippers guard Mo Williams said.
The Grizzlies sound equally confident, feeling they should have won Games 1 and 3.
“There’s no point leaving home if we don’t know our way back,” Grizzlies guard O.J. Mayo said. ” We can’t look at Sunday because we have to make sure we get back home after Friday night.”
Williams had 20 points for the Clippers while Chris Paul scored 19 and Blake Griffin had 15 points and 11 rebounds. Paul and Griffin both missed time in the fourth quarter with injuries.
The Clippers said Paul strained his right hip flexor, while the guard also jammed a finger. Griffin sprained his left knee.
Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro said both players were being further evaluated after the game.
Paul almost single-handedly gave the Clippers a chance to close out this series in Game 5 by scoring eight of his 27 points in overtime of Game 4 and leading L.A. to the win.
This time, the four-time All-Star guard had just five points by halftime and scored nothing in the fourth quarter. He was grimacing early in the fourth quarter and was on the bench with the injured right groin. An injured groin kept him out of the Clippers’ regular-season finale, a loss to New York that cost Los Angeles the No. 4 seed.
The Clippers came in needing a win to clinch their first series since 2006 and advance to a second-round series against top-seeded San Antonio. But even though Paul has plenty of postseason experience, this was the first close-out game for the likes of Griffin, Randy Foye and DeAndre Jordan.
Los Angeles last led at 17-16 before a fast-break layup by Tony Allen that was set up by a long pass from Gasol put Memphis ahead to stay at 18-17 with 5:40 left in the first quarter.
“We’ve got to do a better job keeping our composure a little bit,” Del Negro said.
The Clippers closed the third quarter with a 14-2 run and got within six twice to conjure up memories of Memphis blowing a 27-point lead in Game 1. Foye pulled the Clippers within 85-79 on a layup with 55.7 seconds left.
“You could hear the crowd getting quieter and quieter,” Foye said.
With CP3 on the bench, that was as close as the Clippers would get.
“We made enough plays and got enough stops tonight that kept us ahead,” Memphis coach Lionel Hollins said. “In the past, they kept making shots, and we haven’t been able to stop them. So even though our offense wasn’t perfect, we got enough stops.”
Hollins didn’t give his Grizzlies any credit for slowing down Paul.
“I thought he did a good job of containing himself when he got hurt and went to the bench,” Hollins said.
In the arena nicknamed the Grindhouse in honor of the Grizzlies’ blue-collar style, Memphis pounded the ball into the paint and banged on the Clippers all game. The Grizzlies outscored Los Angeles 48-26 in the paint and had a 42-35 edge in rebounds.
Jordan said the Clippers knew the Grizzlies would force the ball inside to Gasol and Randolph early.
“They got a lot of easy post touches at the beginning of the game,” Jordan said. “Throughout, a lot of their shots were contested, but once you get a groove and get comfortable, the shots become comfortable.”
Griffin twice limped to the bench, once late in the first quarter with what appeared to be a ripped shoe. Then he went down under the basket late in the third after his legs tangled with Gasol’s, and Griffin kept rubbing and holding his left knee. He walked gingerly to the bench but returned. It was the same knee that cost him his first season in the NBA.
Del Negro said both Paul and Griffin said they could go back in the game, so they did until Paul started hobbling a bit at the end.
Gasol scored 12 points in the first quarter. Randolph, who looked nothing like the double-double machine of last season’s playoffs, hit his first six shots in scoring 15 points while grabbing five rebounds as Memphis led 36-22 at the end of the first quarter.
The Grizzlies led 57-42 at halftime and led by as many as 24 before the Clippers tried to make it interesting again.
This physical series went to a new level in the second quarter when Eric Bledsoe of the Clippers ran over to defend Quincy Pondexter and bumped him to the court. Bledsoe then heaved the ball up into the air, drawing a technical foul. That was the first of five for the Clippers, with four coming in the third quarter as Paul, Williams and Del Negro let their frustration boil over.
The Clippers have been called for 12 technicals in this series and the Grizzlies seven. … Los Angeles’ Caron Butler, playing with a broken left hand, had seven points in the first quarter. He finished with eight after missing his last five shots. … Agent Jimmy Sexton and Dontari Poe, the first-round draft pick by the NFL’s Kansas City Chiefs, sat courtside next to the Clippers’ bench. Titans safety Robert Johnson and cornerback Alterraun Verner were in the stands.
Chris Paul had 24 points and 11 assists and high-flying Blake Griffin added 17 points for the Clippers, who beat the Memphis Grizzles 87-86 on Saturday only after Gay missed a 3-pointer just before the buzzer.
“That’s the way we planned it,” Paul joked. “They aren’t going to give us anything. They’re never out of the game with an electrifying scorer like Rudy Gay.”
The Clippers won their first home playoff game in six seasons to take a 2-1 series lead in the Western Conference playoffs. Game 4 is Monday night.
The long-suffering Clippers fans, who turned Staples Center into a sea of red, very easily could have gone home disappointed.
Paul hit a fadeaway jumper with 2:02 left for an 82-80 lead. On the next possession he had a no-look bounce pass to Griffin coming in off the baseline for a monster slam.
Trailing 86-80 after two free throws by Paul, Gay hit a 3-pointer with 12.9 seconds left, Memphis’ first field goal since 7:10. After Los Angeles missed three of four free throws, Gay hit another 3-pointer with 8.9 seconds to hush the crowd.
Eric Bledsoe missed two more free throws, Gilbert Arenas rebounded for Memphis to set up Gay’s final shot. Gay, who had 24 points, got some room to shoot, and quickly let go. But it the shot bounced off the rim.
“At the end of the game, I wanted to make a quick play,” Gay said.
Memphis had another big advantage at the free throw line, like it did in winning Game 2, but couldn’t capitalize. The Grizzlies made 30 of 39 while the Clippers were just 13 of 30.
“We missed 17 free throws?” Paul said. “We did? It shows how much fight we have. It’s unacceptable.”
Paul did his part at the line, making, seven of eight. But Griffin missed six of nine while Reggie Evans missed six of eight.
Memphis had seemingly taken the crowd out of the game in the third quarter, when it outscored the Clippers 25-14 to take a 71-64 lead.
The Clippers’ lull extended into the fourth quarter. Marc Gasol made a field goal with 7:10 left for a 77-71 lead, but that was Memphis’ last basket until the first of Gay’s two 3-pointers in the closing seconds.
“We shut down and only scored 15 points in the fourth quarter,” Memphis coach Lionel Hollins said. “We took too many quick shots and gave up second-chance points. We gave them the back door and Blake took advantage of it.”
Said Gay: “We missed a couple plays we wish we had back. We had a couple letdowns.”
The Clippers, who rallied from 27 down to win the opener on Sunday night at Memphis, started this comeback with just more than four minutes to go.
Evans made a strong inside move against Marreese Speights to rebound Bledsoe’s missed free throw and score to pull L.A. to 79-77 with 4:08 left. Randy Foye then hit a huge 3-point shot from the left side with 3:13 left to tie it at 80 before Paul and Griffin took over.
“He’s tenacious,” Gay said of Paul. “He doesn’t give up. He makes plays and finds people. We can’t have other people doing what they did today. The Clippers pushed us tonight. They got into the lane. We’ll see how we respond on Monday.”
Forward Caron Butler started for the Clippers, wearing a splint on his broken left, or non-shooting, hand. He was hurt in Game 1, and missed the next game. He scored four points.
The Clippers used an 18-1 run spanning the first and second quarter to take a 36-23 lead, but the Grizzles turned around and dropped a 13-0 run on Los Angeles to tie it.
Griffin put an exclamation point on the first half when he stole the inbounds pass from Speights and swooped in for a dunk at the buzzer to give the Clippers a 50-46 lead.
It was the first home playoff game as Clippers for Paul and Griffin.
“I won’t forget my first playoff in this building,” Paul said. “The energy in the crowd and seeing fans celebrating motivate us. The crowd won the game for us.”
Said Griffin: “It was unbelievable. The fans were on their feet and with the energy through our warm-ups, we had no choice but to play hard.”
Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro tried to play coy before the game about Butler’s status, but added after: “Maybe we underestimated how tough he is” … Paul was impressed that Butler played. “If he can fight with one broken hand, what can the rest of us do?” … Butler played just more than 22 minutes. … Gay committed two fouls in the game’s first five minutes and sat out until early in the second quarter.