One thing scared me as Game 5 approached: the thought of Chris Paul just flat-out taking over a game. We hadn’t really seen that yet. Yes, Game 2 was kind of like that, but Conley had just about equaled him every category, and Paul was just lucky enough to have the ball last. I’m talking about situation where he completely takes over; the other Clippers have nothing, but it doesn’t matter because #3 us just so god there’s no way Memphis can stop him.
Tonight would have been that night. CP3 was hitting shots all game. The fact is, he’s good enough of a shooter that he could probably average 25 points a game if he felt like it, but he’s pass-first point guard, and that tends to define his game. Tonight, he was letting the rock fly, and most of the time it was going in. He had 21 points at halftime. there was just one problem; the Grizzlies were up by 6.
It was a lead they would not relinquish for the rest of the game. This game reminded be a bit of the Hawks-Magic playoff game two years ago, where Dwight Howard put up 46 points and 19 rebounds, and his Magic wound up losing anyway. The hawks essentially decided to let the superstar go to work while concentrating on stopping everyone else. It worked for them, and the same strategy worked for the Grizzlies tonight. A late game graphic showed that Paul had 35 points, while no other Clipper was in double figures (Jamal Crawford would eventually get there with 15 points). CP3 can do a lot of things, but he was unable to single-handedly lift the Clippers to victory tonight.
Meanwhile, the Grizzlies were carried by the front court of Zach Randolph and Gasol, both offensively and defensively. Z-Bo had yet another great game, putting up 25 points and 11 rebounds. This is the third straight game that Z-Bo has had at least 24 points and nine boards. Before the series, there was some concern about him. He hadn’t really been himself during the final weeks of the season, and the consensus was that if Z-Bo didn’t step up in the playoffs, the Grizzlies would have a tough time making it past LA. In these past three game, Z-Bo has made it very clear that he is still a force to be reckoned with, as he has been vicious in the post, making key jumpers, and as always, tipping in misses. If the Clippers want to win this series, they’ll have to prevent him from being so effective offensively, and that looks like a tall task at this point.
Marc Gasol struggled with foul trouble, but when he was on the court, he certainly helped the Grizzlies, as he wound up with 21 points, eight rebounds, and four assists. his quick moves to bucket flummoxed the Clippers big men throughout the game. Meanwhile, Blake Griffin would only play 19 minutes, as he continues to struggle with injuries. How healthy Griffin winds up being during Game 6 could be key to how things end up playing out.
It seemed impossible when they were down 2-0, but the Grizzlies have taken back control of this series. One more win, and they vanquish the Clippers, avenging last year’s loss once and for all. With Game 6 at the Grindhouse, at with the Grizzlies having all the momentum, the Clippers will have to play out of their minds if they want to pull of a comeback now.