If there was a game that crystallized why it was such a big deal for the Los Angeles Clippers to acquire Chris Paul, Monday night was it. Having blown a 10-point lead in the final four minutes to the Memphis Grizzlies, Paul dazzled in overtime, scoring eight points in the five extra minutes to lead the Clippers to a 101-97 victory.
It was a win that gave L.A. a 3-1 series advantage. How close has this series been? The Clippers’ three wins were by a combined six points.
It looked in the fourth quarter that this one would not be that close. Los Angels led by 10 with four minutes to play. But Mike Connelly Jr. and Rudy Gay held the Grizzlies together, and they mounted a closing-quarter run that forced overtime when Paul turned the ball over on the last possession of the final period.
But in overtime, Paul made amends. The Grizzlies inexplicably did not double team him to get the ball out of his hands, and Paul exploited the Clippers’ generosity. Going one-on-one, he created space for himself and capitalized with four baskets that proved the difference in OT.
He finished with 27 points, 9 rebounds and 7 assists. Forward Blake Griffin had 30 before fouling out in the fourth quarter. Connelly Jr. had 25 points and Gay 23.
The series goes back to Memphis for Game 5 on Wednesday.