Paul Ensures Clippers Advance

Chris Paul proved why he was the most coveted player prior to the start of the season.

As the rest of the starting lineup combined to shoot 6-for-31 from the field and totaled 14 rebounds, Paul carried the Clippers to a Game 7 victory in Memphis by resolving any problem the team faced. 

Paul scored a game-high 19 points, along with nine rebounds, four assists and two steals as Los Angeles won 82-72, finally eliminating the Grizzlies with its third chance.

The other four starters combined for just 22 points.

Memphis forced the series to go the distance by staving off elimination in consecutive games, setting up a final game in the Fedex Forum, but a poor showing in the fourth quarter ended its season.

Entering the final period with a one point advantage, the Grizzlies surrendered 27 points as the reserves stepped up for Los Angeles.

The Clippers began the quarter on an 11-2 run and Memphis couldn’t climb back into the game, connecting on just 4-of-18 shots in the quarter.

Memphis shot 32.5 percent from the field, its worst shooting performance of the series.

The Grizzles also missed all 13 of their attempts from beyond the arc, marking the second time in the series they failed to make a three-pointer in a game.

Aside from Paul’s free throws with 28 seconds remaining, each point scored by the Clippers came from the bench.

Nick Young finished with 13 points and Kenyon Martin added 11 points and 10 rebounds as the bench out scored the Grizzlies second unit 41-11.

Blake Griffin scored eight points on 3-of-11 shooting from the field in Game 7.

As Blake Griffin, the young star for the Clippers struggled, finishing with eight points on 3-of-11 shooting from the field and just four rebounds, matching his worst rebound total of the post season.

The Clippers advanced despite three starters playing with significant injuries.

Caron Butler fractured his hand after he got it tangled in Rudy Gay’s jersey during the series opener. Butler was supposed to be out four to six weeks, but returned just six days later.

Griffin played through a knee injury he suffered in Game 5 and Paul was able to control Game 7 even with a strained hip.

Memphis was able to keep its season alive by grabbing 25 offensive rebounds in the past two games, so the 6-foot Paul drifted away from his defender and helped out on the glass.

All nine of his rebounds came on the defensive end and Los Angeles finished with more offensive rebounds than the Grizzlies for the first time in the series.

The Clippers became just the 22nd team in 109 tries to win a Game 7 on the road and advanced to the Western Conference semifinals for the third time in 41 years.

Even with Griffin garnering Rookie of the Year honors a year ago, becoming the first unanimous winner of the award in 21 years.

Griffin averaged 22.5 points, 12.1 rebounds and became one of the most famous players in the league with his highlight reel plays and winning performance in the 2011 Slam Dunk Contest.

Chris Paul helped the Clippers advance in the post season for the third time in 41 years.

While the Clippers had an emerging superstar in Griffin, when Paul demanded to be traded from New Orleans, nearly every team in the league was trying to figure out a way to land the most complete point guard in the NBA.

The Lakers initially completed a three team trade for Paul, involving Pau Gasol going to Houston, Lamar Odom, Kevin Martin, Luis Scola and Goran Dragic headed to the Hornets and Paul calling the Staples Center home.

The league then voided the trade because of a term it called basketball reasons, briefly keeping Paul in New Orleans.

Just days later, the Clippers landed Paul with a package centered around shooting guard Eric Gordon.

Sunday afternoon, proved why the Clippers were so eager to land the superstar point guard.

With his team in need of a solid scoring presence, he took control of the offense. Instead of setting up his teammates for easy baskets, he took on the scoring burden, something he was able to do steadily throughout the year in the fourth quarter.

The Clippers needed him to perform like a star Sunday afternoon and Paul delivered.

About Brendan Galella

Brendan Galella founded Shatter the Glass to make the NBA even more accessible to basketball fans. Composing player rankings, team evaluations and intriguing observations, he hopes to turn every reader into a dedicated and educated basketball follower.

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