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William Larsha, Jr.



By William Larsha, Jr., Sports Reporter and Columnist


The Mid-South Tribune and the Black Information Highway


MEMPHIS, TN May 3, 2012-  The Memphis Grizzlies rode a hot end of season winning streak into the 2012 NBA Playoffs hoping to continue their good play for as long as possible. The team clinched the number 4 seed in the Western Conference giving them home court advantage in the first round for the first time in team history.

On April 29, 2012, the quest began against the L.A. Clippers, the 5th seed. A sold out and very loud FedEx Forum crowd greeted the team which throughout most of the game, did not disappoint. The Grizzlies played lights out for the first three quarters. They shot 50 percent from the field and 67 percent from 3 point range. They built as much as a 27 point lead and the Forum turned into a Beale Street party bar.

But things would change in the 4th quarter when the Grizzlies become content with their large lead and tried to milk the clock. This left the door open for a Clipper team that never gave up. With 5 minutes left to play, the Grizzlies lead had been cut to 12 points, 96-84. Then Clipper guard Nick Young hit three straight 3 pointers to cut the lead to three points. Later with the Grizzlies leading 98-97, Clipper Chris Paul was fouled and sank 2 at the line to give the Clippers the lead. A last second shot by Rudy Gay fell short giving the Clippers an unbelievable comeback victory. 

Needless to say, the entire City was stunned. Coach Lionel Hollins said after the game, "It's the little things that cost you in games like this and playoff games aren't meant to be blowouts. Sometimes they are, but when you have two evenly matched teams, you can expect that both teams are going to be in the game at the end. The Clippers got back to win the game. We just didn't make enough plays and they did."  The question then became, after such a stunning defeat, could the grizzlies come back strong for game 2?

Indeed, the team showed resolve by play a much more aggressive game on Wednesday May 2 at FedEx Forum. Rudy Gay scored 21 points and O.J. Mayo added 20 as the Grizzlies put game 1 behind them and secured a 105-98 win, despite a brilliant performance from the Clipper's Chris Paul who had 29 points.

Though the Clippers shot 57 percent from the floor, the Grizzlies won this game by forcing 21 turnovers and grabbing 16 offensive rebounds. Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro said, ”Too many offensive rebounds. Too many turnovers. That's what [the Grizzlies] live on."  And live on they did.

 In order to keep living on, the Grizzlies need to win at least one of the next two games that are being played in Los Angeles.