It wasn’t pretty, but the Memphis Grizzlies were able to bounce back from their heartbreaking Game 1 defeat and even up their 1st-round series with the Los Angeles Clippers before the series goes back to Los Angeles.
Chris Paul was the best player on the floor on Wednesday night, as he was able to record 29 points on 17 shots, six assists, and five steals, but his efforts were for naught against the Grizzlies, who got contributions from a huge number of players and handily won the possession battle.
During the regular season, the Clippers had the 2nd-best turnover rate in the league and 6th-best rebound rate in the league, but they lost on Wednesday night because they were unable to hold onto the ball or haul in rebounds. The Clippers allowed 23 points off turnovers on Wednesday, and only managed four offensive rebounds to Memphis’ 16. That led to Memphis getting eight more field goal attempts and 21 more free throw attempts than the Clippers, who lost despite shooting 57% from the field and 56% from beyond the arc.
Even though the Clippers managed to steal home-court advantage with an incredible comeback, they’ll be coming back to Los Angeles with a lot to worry about. The team isn’t getting balanced contributions, and would have been on the wrong end of two blowouts if the Grizzlies didn’t take their foot off the gas pedal in Game 1 or Chris Paul hadn’t been absolutely on fire in Game 2. Home-court is important, but right now the Grizzlies look bigger, deeper, tougher, and hungrier than the Clippers do, and those are things the Clippers will need to address if they want to make it out of the first round.
Apparently, all it takes is a little public discussion of LeBron James‘ “broken” jump shot to get him back on balance and knocking down the three ball — he was 4-of-6 from deep Wednesday.
Then again J.R. Smith was 7-of-13, Kyrie Irving 4-of-5, and as a team the Cavaliers knocked down a record 25 threes — while shooting 55.6 percent — as they wiped the floor with the Hawks in Game 2.
In case you’re curious where the Cavs were hitting from, here’s the team’s shot chart.
The Houston Rockets aren’t in any rush to hire a new head coach, preferring to interview a wide range of candidates to find the right one. Jeff Van Gundy has been widely believed to be at the top of their list, now that Tom Thibodeau and Scott Brooks are off the market, but ESPN.com’s Marc Stein is reporting another name that has entered the mix: Mike D’Antoni, who last held a head coaching job from 2012 to 2014 with the Lakers and currently serves as the Sixers’ lead assistant.
The Pacers, meanwhile, haven’t made a final decision on Frank Vogel’s future with the team, but all signs seem to point to him getting let go in the next few days. And if that happens, Stein reports that Vogel will also be on Houston’s list of candidates.
Given the Rockets’ massive drop-off on the defensive end this season, Vogel would seem to be a better fit than D’Antoni. But it sounds like the Rockets aren’t close to finding a replacement for J.B. Bickerstaff, although it would make sense to have a new coach in place by next month’s draft.
On Monday, the Hawks played the Cavaliers close and even led in the fourth quarter, leading plenty of optimism that Game 2 would be equally competitive, that the Hawks had something to build on.
The Cavs dominated from the start on Wednesday, with a 123-98 final score that was far closer than the game actually was — the Cavs led 74-36 at the half and led by as much as 38 at one point in the second half.
The Cavs also hit 25 three-pointers, which is the all-time record for a single game — regular season or playoffs. J.R. Smith hit seven of them, along with four each from LeBron James and Kyrie Irving and three for Kevin Love.
18 of Cleveland’s threes came in the first half, also a playoff record, and this was all Atlanta could do:
That’s the kind of night it was for the Hawks, who now trail 2-0 in the series as it heads back to Atlanta.
LeBron James has always been an incredible passer. In the midst of the Cavs’ Game 2 beatdown of the Hawks, he zipped this one-handed beauty into the paint to Kyrie Irving, who kicked it out to Kevin Love for a corner three:
The three was just one of the 18 Cleveland hit in the first half, which set an NBA playoff record.