Kurt Helin

Blake Griffin, ,Chris Paul

Watch Chris Paul, Blake Griffin combine for big days to even Clippers with Spurs (VIDEO)

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The Clippers needed their big stars to step up Sunday, or they were going to be in a very deep hole. They got it.

Chris Paul had 34 points on 19 shots, Blake Griffin had 20 points on 17 shots, and the Los Angeles Clippers looked like the best offense in the land putting up 114 points on the Spurs and evening that series at 2-2. Above you can check out what Griffin and Paul did.

Although the real star may have been Austin Rivers — his 16 points off the bench was the kind of depth the Clippers have been missing this series.

Watch Stephen Curry drop 39 on Pelicans as Warriors close out series

Golden State Warriors v New Orleans Pelicans - Game Four
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Following up the shot of the playoffs, Stephen Curry did not let up on the Pelicans. Curry had 39 points in the close out the game as Golden State beat New Orleans 109-95.  The Warriors swept the sereis.

Curry was 11-of-20 shooting on the night, he was finding space as he was 7-of-11 on uncontested shots. He was getting his buckets at the rim and from the right side of the court.

Grizzlies start fast, hang on to beat Portland, take 3-0 series lead

Memphis Grizzlies v Portland Trail Blazers - Game Three
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For the first two games, it was more about the Memphis defense holding Portland’s offense down. Saturday was different, it was a fluid Grizzlies offense that started out on an 11-3 run and hung 62 points on the Trail Blazers in the first half.

Still the overall pattern was the same: Memphis got out to a comfortable first half lead, Portland fought to close the gap and make it a game, but in the end just couldn’t get all the way there.

The result Saturday was a 115-109 Memphis win on the road that has the Grizzlies up 3-0 in the series. No NBA team has ever come back from 3-0 down to win a series.

However, there is potentially awful news for Memphis. Their point guard Mike Conley took an inadvertent elbow to the face from C.J. McCollum and had to leave the game not to return. Conley was taken to a local medical facility for further evaluation and reportedly had a very swollen side of his face. There is no word yet on the severity of his injury or if he could miss games.

Saturday’s game started completely differently for the two teams.

Portland opened 1-of-12 from the field (LaMarcus Aldridge was 0-of-5 in the first quarter). On the other side, the Grizzlies offense was the best we had seen from them in a while, the ball movement side to side was fantastic, and it tore apart Blazers defense.

It wasn’t just Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph on post ups; it was more Conley and the Grizzlies guards getting little resistance on penetration and getting into the paint.  Memphis had 30 points in the paint in the first half. Portland’s Damian Lillard had his best half of the series, coming up with 14 points on 6-of-9 shooting, but LaMarcus Aldridge was just 1-of-10 shooting — all series Portland could only get one of its two stars going at a time.

Portland came out more focused in the second half — playing with a needed sense of desperation like a team seeing elimination looming — and they took away the easy buckets Memphis had been getting. Yet Portland couldn’t close the gap — the Grizzlies brought the grind. When Portland would make a couple plays, the Grizzlies would find a way to get a stop then get key buckets. One time it was back-to-back buckets from Marc Gasol. Another time it was Tony Allen.

Portland got the Grizzlies’ lead all the way down to three at one point, but never were closer. They couldn’t get stops down the stretch.

Marc Gasol had 25 points to lead Memphis; Courtney Lee added 20 and Zach Randolph finished with 16. Portland had 27 from Nicolas Batum while McCollum pitched in 26.

The Grizzlies can close out the series Monday night. Golden State awaits in the next round (and Memphis will need Conley in that series to have a chance).

Grizzlies’ Mike Conley leaves game, heads to medical facility after elbow to eye

Damian Lillard, Mike Conley
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Mike Conley is key to what Memphis does — he can hit threes, he is a good floor general, and he’s a fantastic perimeter defender. The Grizzlies were +17.7 points per 100 possessions when he’s been on the court in the first two games of the playoffs. That despite him battling a foot injury that caused him to miss games at the end of the season (one he’s not fully recovered from).

In the third game, he took an inadvertent elbow to the face from C.J. McCollum as he leaned in to go for a steal (while McCollum stumbled) that knocked him out of the game.

He left the game in the third quarter after it happened, went to the locker room, then not long after was taken to a local medical facility for further evaluation, the team announced. Reports from the arena had Conley with a swollen eye.

There has not yet been an update on his injury.

Conley had 14 points and four assists when he got injured.

The Grizzlies were without Beno Udrih, their backup point guard, due to injury. The ball fell to the hands of Nick Calathes, who played a solid game and helped the Grizzlies hang on for the 115-109 win. Memphis is now up 3-0 in the series and seems destined to advance, with or without Conley.

They will need Conley to have any hope in the next round against Stephen Curry and Golden State (which has advanced after sweeping the Pelicans).

 

Watch Jerryd Bayless’ back cut, game winner to keep Bucks alive vs. Bulls

Jerryd Bayless
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After the game, Bucks players said they anticipated Derrick Rose would overplay the inbound pass, and they thought they could take advantage of that. Jason Kidd (or assistant Joe Prunty) drew up the play.

Jerryd Bayless cut to the corner (the place both Rose and Joakim Noah guarding the inbound wanted to cut off) and when Rose overplayed it Bayless made a hard cut back to the basket. Jared Dudley hit him with a beautiful pass before Rose knew what happened; Bayless made the lay-up to give the Bucks a 92-90 win.

For a young and growing Bucks team this was a big win. You can see the development curve for this team, they could be incredibly dangerous in a few years, and this is a step along the way.

It’s not going to change the series, the Bulls very likely make this a gentlemen’s sweep, winning Game 5. You can’t blame the Bulls (or their fans) for looking ahead to a showdown Cavaliers. But Saturday night belonged to the Bucks.