Through 27 quarters of basketball, the Memphis Grizzlies and Los Angeles Clippers played each other to an absolute standstill. The two teams had traded blows throughout the playoffs, and the Clippers came into the final quarter of Game 7 with a 1-point lead in a hostile arena.
Then, after 36 minutes of profoundly ugly basketball, the Clippers finally got some offense going — and it didn’t even come from Blake Griffin or Chris Paul. Los Angeles’ two superstars combined for a grand total of two points and zero assists in the fourth quarter, and those two points came when Paul was intentionally fouled with the Clippers up eight points with 28 seconds remaining in the game.
The Clippers won game 7 by beating the Grizzlies at their own game — the team known as “Lob City” forced the Western Conference’s best defensive team into an absolutely abysmal offensive performance.
The numbers are ugly for the Grizzlies, who only managed to score 72 points on 32.5% shooting from the field. The team didn’t make a single three-pointer all game, and Mike Conley, O.J. Mayo, and Zach Randolph combined to shoot 6-36 from the field. Marc Gasol and Rudy Gay both had solid games, scoring 19 points apiece, but the Grizzlies really had no chance of getting any offense going with Randolph and their entire backcourt shooting so poorly. Through most of this series, the Grizzlies looked like a better team than the Clippers, but they simply melted down on their home floor when it mattered most. After their fantastic 1st-round upset last season, this is a team that will have a lot to stew over this offseason.
The Clippers now have a date with the Spurs, who will, to be frank, tear through them like a wet napkin if the Clippers don’t bring their absolute A-game. That means that Paul and Griffin have to get back to 100%, the role players will have to step up, they will have to get tough on defense, and they’ll most likely have to get a little lucky. The Spurs will go into their series with the Clippers as heavy favorites, but the Clippers showed in this game, which they were heavily favored to lose, and the 4th quarter of Game 1 that betting against them isn’t always the best idea.
Wizards defend final possession horribly, beat Knicks anyway (video)
The Wizards – one of the NBA’s most disappointing teams this season – showed why it’s so difficult to believe in them.
They built a 10-point lead over the Knicks with 1:51 left and steadily blew it. New York got within one and trailed by three with 4.3 seconds left.
And Washington went to sleep.
The Wizards – four of whom hung out near the halfcourt line – allowed the Knicks to push the ball and find a wide-open Langston Galloway behind the 3-point arc. Galloway is one of New York’s best 3-point shooters, and he makes 47% of his wide open 3s, per NBA.com
This is horrific focus by Washington.
But if there’s a team less inspiring than the Wizards, it’s the Kurt Rambis-coached Knicks, and Galloway missed to give his new coach a loss in his first game as New York’s head coach.
Five Takeaways from NBA Monday: Watch out for the Utah Jazz
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1) Gordon Hayward game winner makes it seven in a row for Utah. This team is hitting it’s stride again. The reason Utah was everyone’s favorite pick to leap up into the Western Conference playoffs this season was they were one of the best teams in the NBA after the All-Star break last season — they went 19-10, played lock-down defense allowing just 89 points a game, and got just enough offense to win.
The Jazz are hitting that stride earlier this season. After a dramatic win over the Mavericks on Tuesday, the Jazz have won seven in a row and moved past Houston into the seven seed in the West. Utah is hitting its stride and is not only going to make the playoffs but also be a tough out in them. They are playing great defense again, allowing 87.3 points per game during the win streak (95.8 points allowed per 100 possessions), plus are getting offense when they need it. Like during the dramatic end of the win over Dallas on the road Tuesday. First Rodney Hood hit a three to force overtime:
Then Gordon Hayward hit the step-back game winner.
2) Kurt Rambis drops first game as Knicks coach. Meet the new Knicks: They got off to a terrible start, had no offensive flow, were constantly putting up contested shots late in the shot clock, and didn’t slow the other team down in transition. And they lost (111-108 to Washington). If that sounds a lot like the old Derek Fisher Knicks, well, what did you expect? Kurt Rambis — whatever you think of him as a coach — was not going to be able to make many changes on the fly, and while Carmelo Anthony dropped 33, the reasons this team has struggled of late have not gone away. This roster is not as good as Phil Jackson apparently thinks it is, and people running the show at Madison Square Garden may have been blinded by a better than expected start. This is not a good team, if anything the emergence of Kristaps Porzingis has them playing above expectations. There are some pieces to build on for the future, but there is still a lot of building to do. This coaching change doesn’t change much of anything in the short term.
3) Setback Tuesday: Bulls’ Jimmy Butler out 3-4 weeks with knee strain; Grizzlies Marc Gasol out indefinitely with a broken foot; Pelicans Tyreke Evans to miss rest of season after knee surgery. The basketball gods were handing out injuries Tuesday like Oprah handed out cars.
The Bulls will be without All-Star guard Jimmy Butler for a month due to the knee strain he suffered a couple of games back. The Bulls are already 5-12 in their last 17 and struggling on defense; this is another big step back along those lines. Chicago is just 1.5 games from falling out of the playoffs, and that is suddenly a concern. The Bulls’ Pau Gasol will replace Butler in the All-Star Game (which means the Bulls keep a representative, and Gasol is there for the Kobe sendoff game, which is nice).
Marc Gasol is the hub of what Memphis likes to do on both ends, but he has a broken foot and will be out indefinitely. Gasol’s game has taken a step back this season, but the team is still 3.7 points per 100 possessions better when he is on the court, and the Grizzlies don’t have anyone who can replace what he does at both ends. The Grizzlies have a 4.5 game cushion from falling out of the playoffs, but wins are going to be much tougher to come by now.
Just one second left, so it’s going to overtime, right? Wrong. Avery Bradley with the stupid foul and the Bucks get the win.
5) Miami’s Hassan Whiteside was ejected for elbowing Spurs Boban Marjanovic in the face. It was a made free throw in the fourth quarter of a double-digit game — there wasn’t anything to be battling over. But Marjanovic was working to get his big body in a rebounding position, Whiteside was trying to fight him off and got his elbows up. It was the move of an immature player, which Whiteside can still be at times. Elbow a guy in the face and you’re gone.
Stephen Curry starts ridiculous Warriors fast break (VIDEO)
Golden State is such a thing of beauty to watch in transition.
This play starts when Stephen Curry slides down to help on post defense on Clint Capela, steals the ball, saves it to a teammate and then gets it back when they start the break. James Harden tries to slow Curry down, cutting him off in the backcourt, Curry just whips a 20-foot behind-the-back pass to Andre Iguodala, who lobs it to Leandro Barbosa for the finish.
Houston fought back from 16 down early to make it interesting for a while, but Golden State pulled away late for the 123-110 win. Curry finished with 35 on the night.
Report: Pelicans’ Tyreke Evans out for season due to planned knee surgery
The Pelicans’ just can’t get and stay healthy. Tyreke Evans just can’t stay healthy this season.
Evans — who has averaged 15.2 points and a team-high 6.6 assists per game this season — will be done for the season following planned knee surgery, reports Shams Charania of the Vertical at Yahoo Sports.
Pelicans' Tyreke Evans plans to undergo surgery on his right knee and likely out for rest of the season, league sources tell The Vertical.
The Pelicans had been looking at potential trades for Evans, all of that is dead now. (New Orleans would like to move Eric Gordon, but most other teams are more interested in Ryan Anderson.)
The Pelicans have been 3.2 points per 100 possessions better this season with Evans on the court. However, in recent weeks coach Alvin Gentry has given increasing minutes and increasing responsibilities to Jrue Holiday.
It is possible Gentry keeps Bryce Dejean-Jones starting and bringing Holiday off the bench (as he did last game), just to keep the bench rotations where he wants them. Also, expect Norris Cole to get more run.
None of this matters much, this has been a lost season for the 19-32 Pelicans. They are the current 12 seed, 6.5 games out of the last playoff spot, they are not catching anyone. Don’t be shocked if Anthony Davis is shut down early for the season as well.