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.
Spurs to give Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili Friday night off in Denver
That is the first night of a back-to-back, with former Spurs’ assistant coach Mike Budenholzer and his Atlanta Hawks coming to San Antonio on Saturday. Popovich is saving his two veterans for that game.
Duncan and Ginobili have looked like they found the fountain of youth this season. Duncan is taking on less of the offense but has been very efficient in those moments. Ginobili has the impact he did a few years back in his bench role.
What Gregg Popovich cares about is them playing like that come the postseason. So they will rest on Friday.
Rejecting the tender is a favor to the drafting team, which gets to keep the player’s exclusive rights for a year. If Thornton tries to join the NBA now, he’s stuck negotiating with only the Celtics.
By accepting the tender, the player typically gets one of two outcomes. He either plays on that contract and draws an NBA salary or he gets waived. But even getting waived is better than rejecting the tender, because at least the player becomes a free agent and can negotiate with any team.
Players who reject the tender go to another league and play for less money. In Thornton’s case, that mean Australia.
How’s that going?
(Almost) never reject the required tender as a second-round pick.
Byron Scott says they just have to get Kobe Bryant better looks
Kobe Bryant is averaging 15.2 points a game at age 37. It’s just taking him 16.4 shots per game to get there. After his 1-of-14 shooting performance against the Warriors the other night — with too much isolation and too many plays run just for him — there has been a lot of talk about his shot. With reason, this is his shot chart so far this season.
So what do the Lakers’ do? Get Kobe to shoot less and get the ball in the hands of the young stars they supposed to be developing more? Nah.
“I know his mentality is that he can still play in this league,” Scott said. “And we feel the same way….
“Obviously he’s struggling right now with his shot, and I think everybody can see that,” Scott said. “So it’s trying to get him in better position to be able to have an opportunity to knock those shots down on a consistent basis. That’s No. 1.
“I don’t know if it’s his legs. I don’t think so. Again, our conversations are pretty blunt. … He tells me when he is tired and he tells me when he’s not tired. And the last few days, he said he feels great. So, I don’t think it’s a matter of him being tired or his legs being tired. I think it’s a matter of his timing being a little off.”
Yes, how could it be his legs? It’s not like he’s a 37-year-old with more than 55,000 NBA minutes played, and coming off an Achilles rupture and major knee surgery.
Honestly, I hope the Lakers and Kobe find a balance soon, because they have become just hard to watch. And I don’t want Kobe to go out this way.