Before we let you choose your own disaster, let me explain the first three quarters. No, there is no time — let me sum up.
First problem: Chris Paul can’t penetrate or get in the lane. His hip is limiting his movement. Second problem: Blake Griffin can’t get up and down the floor like he usually does. Third problem: The other starters are providing nothing.
There’s good news though! Eric Bledsoe, Reggie Evans and Kenyon Martin are playing out of their domes. Bledsoe is killing it in the pick and roll to the point where he’s the one who initiates the action when he’s on the floor with Paul. The team is shooting horribly, but they’re grinding it out.
Here’s where your adventure starts. It’s a tie game at 68 a piece with a little over 10 minutes remaining in the fourth quarter.
9:49, 4th Q: Mo Williams breaks the tie by doing something that Paul usually thrives at but isn’t able to do all night. Williams gets Marreese Speights on a switch in the pick-and-roll, threatens the drive with a jab, and nails a 19-footer over the big man. 70-68, Clippers.
If you think Mo Williams can make a great play on the defensive end next, continue on to 9:49!
If you’d rather see Mo Williams as Busta Rhymes, scroll down!
9:40, 4th Q: On the ensuing possession, Mo makes a fantastic defensive (!) play. Guarding O.J. Mayo in the corner, Mo sniffs out a curl to the top of the key, and perhaps out of self-preservation more than anything, avoids the pindown screen from Marc Gasol and positions himself perfectly to get a hand on the pass. Mayo fails to get a clean handle, and Eric Bledsoe swoops in to get the steal, then uses his incredible end-to-end speed to finish on the other end. 72-68, Clippers.
If you want to push your luck with two 90s rap references and call Kenyon Martin Method Man, go to 9:23.
If you want to ignore a valuable lesson for Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan, skip ahead to 9:10.
9:23, 4th Q: The Grizzlies had great success throwing it to the block against the Clippers’ starters, but the Clippers’ bench makes life a little tougher. Zach Randolph gets good post position on Kenyon Martin, and quickly spins baseline. Martin, in what’s become his best defensive skill at this stage in his career, cuts off Z-Bo’s path to the rim, but doesn’t sell out completely. Here’s where Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan are beat by Evans and Martin — the older duo recognizes personnel. Martin knows Z-Bo can’t score with his right, and recovers back to contest a tough lefty hook for Randolph. Evans, meanwhile, throws Hamed Haddadi to the ground to secure the defensive rebound. Watch and learn, young fellas.
Defense leads to offense, you know. Continue on to 9:10.
9:10, 4th Q: With Eric Bledsoe picking up the pace, the Clippers get Reggie Evans trailing the middle of the floor and setting a down screen for Nick Young with some basic secondary break action. Young and Evans engage in a high pick and roll in the center of the floor, and Haddadi is left out in space against Nick Young. Young picks his spot and bangs home the pull-up jumper. 74-68, Clippers
If you’d like to continue to run with Bledsoe over a completely ineffective Randy Foye, go to 8:32.
If you are Vinny Del Negro, go to 4:10.
8:32, 4th Q: After Conley misses a layup, Bledsoe comes down the floor and works a pick and roll with Reggie Evans. Why has Evans been so effective in this series? Because he pushes the limits in every conceivable way. Evans slides a good six feet to screen Conley, and in all the confusion of switch/hedge/show/under between Conley and Haddadi, Bledsoe hits an in-rhythm pull up jumper to send the crowd over the edge. 76-68, Clippers
Uh oh. Looks like we done made that Haddadi feller upset. Go to 8:26 to watch your three best players tonight try to stop him.
8:26, 4th Q: The Clippers have their biggest lead of the game. The crowd is going nuts. Memphis tries to free Conley with a high pick and roll, but the speedy Clippers’ second unit is switching everything. Amidst all the commotion, Haddadi ends up free under the hoop and gets the pass, but a scrambling Evans sprints towards him. The dump off to Tony Allen is a great pass, but Kenyon Martin contests the layup and it flies hard off the glass.
Here’s where things get crazy.
Reggie Evans has the rebound. He tips it with one hand. No member of the Grizzlies is near him. Kenyon Martin, however, is. He also tries to secure the board…and the orange gets hit like a beach ball and floats back into the hands of Zach Randolph in the ultimate “oooh, look what I found!” offensive rebound. Z-Bo rushes a floater that misses, but Haddadi tips the miss (despite Bledsoe’s best efforts, who is literally more than a foot shorter) back to Z-Bo. The floater connects this time. Chris Paul, who has perfected the art of yelling “SAME!” whenever two teammates approach a rebound, is still on the bench. 76-70, Clippers.
Want more Clippers to run into each other and blow critical defensive rebounds? Skip waaay ahead to :24.
Let’s take another shot at that really tall guy who didn’t play at all in the first half! Continue to 7:47.
7:47, 4th Quarter: Bledsoe walks the ball up (understandably) and it allows Memphis to get set defensively. A few attempts at a high pick and roll with Bledsoe and Evans get snuffed, and eventually Evans is tasked with scoring off a slipped screen. Haddadi is still very tall, though, and he blocks Evans’ layup attempt. Evans flings the ball back out to Mo (hopeyoucandisarmthisbombtrythebluewiregoodluck!) and Mo has to throw up a late shot clock heave that is blocked by Haddadi, who is still very tall.
Want to run something other than a Bledsoe/Evans high pick and roll? Too bad. Skip ahead to 7:14 (or 2013, if possible)
Hey, what’s Chris Paul doing over here? Let’s get him in the game! Continue to 7:25.
7:25, 4th Quarter: A sign of things to come here. After Tony Allen contests the shot by Williams, he leaks out down the court. No 24-second violation is called because no one knows why, so Haddadi gets it to Conley, who fires a touchdown to Allen streaking up the right side. Bledsoe comes in for the super swat and nearly kills himself fouling Allen at the rim.
Other than a tiny 37 second stint to end the third quarter, Paul has now been sitting on the bench for over 7 minutes of game time — not including the quarter break. Even Steve Nash’s back thinks that’s too long.
Want to find an even dumber way to let Tony Allen run up the court uncontested? Skip ahead to :56.
Hamed Haddadi, he likes to party. But he’s does cause trouble, and he’s bothering everybody. Continue to 7:24.
7:24, 4th Quarter: After hitting the first one, Tony Allen clanks the second one. Reggie Evans is left to fend for himself against Haddadi (there’s a happy middle ground here, Kenyon) and Evans unfortunately mistimes his jump on a funky bounce that only a Tony Allen free throw could produce. Haddadi collects the board and puts it in. 76-73 Clippers
The Clippers have three timeouts. Chris Paul is still on the bench.
7:14, 4th Quarter: The Clippers are forced to play slow again, and they go to — surprise! — a high pick and roll with Bledsoe and Evans. After Bledsoe nearly chops Haddadi in half by running full speed into his knees on the hedge, the quick little guard puts on the afterburners and gets into a crowded paint. Unfortunately, that’s where the plan ends. Randolph gets the strip, and the Grizz are off and running. Rudy Gay hits a terribly chosen shot — much like he shot all night — to pull the Grizzlies back within one. Del Negro finally calls timeout to get Paul in the game. 76-75, Clippers
I’d like to see us run another play now. Go to 3:13.
Stay the course. I think Chris Paul will save the day. Continue to 6:50.
6:50, 4th Quarter: Paul is in. The Clippers come out of the timeout with a gnarly set the Grizzlies couldn’t possibly be prepared for — the high pick and roll between Bledsoe and Evans. Bledsoe gets into the paint again, but Randolph helps completely off Kenyon Martin to alter the layup. Head meet wall. Oh, you guys already know each other?
Let’s lose our lead so we can get it back. Comebacks are kind of our thing. Continue to 6:35.
Chris Paul is clearly hurt. I bet Eric Bledsoe can help! Skip ahead to 6:12.
6:35, 4th Quarter: Better to be lucky than good. Gay curls off a screen from Gasol to get to the middle of the floor. Nick Young tries to take the charge, but Gay powers through and rockets the ball off the backboard and in. And-1. Gay hits the free throw, and the lead is gone. 78-76, Memphis
Like the Clippers’ offense, you have no alternative options. Continue to 6:12 and suffer from malnutrition due to a strict diet of bread and butter.
6:12, 4th Quarter: You know what the Clippers run. High pick and roll, this time with Paul and Evans. But, rejoice! Even though Paul can’t get deep into the defense, Eric Bledsoe does something Randy Foye can’t — he goes backdoor on Mike Conley once he sees the back of his head. Bledsoe garners all the attention on the baseline after the pass from Paul, and quickly threads the needle to Martin with a bounce pass for the wide open jam. 78-78
Ha! I knew the pick and roll would work just fine. I don’t think the Grizzlies will ever stop it. Skip ahead to 4:30.
I wonder if the Grizzlies are any good at this pick and roll thing? Continue to 5:58.
5:58, 4th Quarter: I reject the notion that the Clippers run “most of the same stuff everyone else does.” That’s false. The Grizzlies run a Conley-Randolph pick and roll here, just like the Clippers would, but their secondary action out of it is something Blake Griffin and his passing abilities would kill for. On the opposite side of the main attraction, Marc Gasol tries another pindown screen for Rudy Gay, but Nick Young jumps all over it. The ball gets delivered to Gasol in the high post, who immediately kick it back to Conley for a side pick and roll with the defense shifting strong sides. Reggie Evans pops out on the screen as Bledsoe goes under, but Evans doesn’t come out quite far enough to leave a proper gap for Bledsoe. As Bledsoe tries to recover, he bumps into Evans, who is cheating back to pick up the rolling Gasol. Conley pulls an uncontested 19-footer. 80-78, Memphis
If you want Reggie Evans to make up for it with two free throws, continue to 5:34.
If you don’t like Reggie Evans, click the “x” in the top right hand corner.
5:34, 4th Q: HP&R, Paul and Evans. Paul gets off his feet, but finds a diving Evans. Allen fouls. Evans hits both free throws. Drink! 80-80
I’m feeling good! I’m optimistic and in no way think this can fall apart! You lose. Please start adventure from beginning.
Watch Zach Randolph shoot the best 3-point attempt ever. Continue to 5:24.
5:24, 4th Q: Zach Randolph low post entry. Martin is once again not fooled, and ties Randolph up as he goes to release his lefty shot. Can we combine Evans and Martin in to some kind of superhuman defender/rebounder for Game 7? Zach Randolph ends up having to crossover and shoot a stepback three, which reminds me of this play, which makes me smile for the first time in at least an hour.
Let’s watch Blake approach setting a screen on someone with the type of trepidation often reserved for wrestling alligators! Continue to 4:50.
4:50, 4th Q: Griffin is in for Evans, who is presumably tired from all the screening and ass kicking he’s done. As is often the case, Paul and Griffin don’t come anywhere near running a traditional pick and roll, but Paul gets the beat on Allen driving to his right. Unfortunately, in another reoccurring theme, the Grizzlies are completely prepared. Mike Conley completely abandons Bledsoe on the wing to sink and stop Paul’s drive, and all five Grizzlies have their foot in the paint. Paul tries to thread the needle to Griffin, but the timing is off. It’s a steal. The Grizz are off to the races.
I give Griffin a lot of credit for banging with the Grizzlies’ bigs and playing with his injury, but his poor effort to get back on defense killed the Clippers tonight. After Bledsoe and Martin interrupt Gay’s path to the hole on the break, Griffin runs straight up the middle of the floor, never once accounting for the wide open Mike Conley on the wing. Conley has plenty of time to get his feet set as a result, and he bangs the wide open 3 right in front of the Clippers’ bench. 83-80, Memphis
I bet that transition D doesn’t need to be addressed at all. Nope. Skip to :56 seconds.
Watch Chris Paul play at half strength and get swallowed whole by the Grizzlies defense. Continue to 4:30.
4:30, 4th Quarter: Clippers have the ball. High pick and roll, Paul and Martin. Paul goes left of the screen and tries to plant once he’s in the paint, but he loses his footing. Tony Allen gets on the floor before Paul can for the loose ball. It looks like a possible tie-up, but on the Grizzlies’ side of the floor, it makes sense the timeout is granted. Two straight turnovers for Paul. The Grizzlies are now on a 15-4 run.
This is getting bad. BETTER PUT IN RANDY FOYE! Continue to 4:10.
I would like to commit Seppuku. It’s an easier way to go. Skip to local hospital.
4:10, 4th Quarter: Randy Foye is now in for Bledsoe, presumably to help with offensive spacing and maybe give Bledsoe a blow, who looked winded after playing about 10 straight minutes. It’s important to note that Bledsoe almost always has his hands on his knees during dead balls, so there’s that. Rudy Gay attempts to take Foye down into the block, but makes a baffling one hand touch pass out of it that’s picked off by Nick Young.
Rudy Gay is totally going to blow this for them again, isn’t he? Continue to 3:55.
3:55, 4th Quarter: Mayo and Gay get their assignments confused, and Foye gets a wide open look from 3. It’s a shot he was stroking at the end of the regular season. It’s probably his cleanest look of the series. It misses. On the other end, Tony Allen gets right at the rim and misses, but Zach Randolph, who spent the entire possession carving out space under the hoop, is there for the easy putback. 85-80, Memphis
I can’t believe this is the same Zach Randolph that was once a Clipper. I need more proof. Skip to 1:36.
I think our power forward is fairly decent at basketball as well. Continue to 3:13.
3:13, 4th Quarter: HEY! The Clippers finally try something different in the halfcourt, as Paul poo-poos the pick and roll and kicks to Foye, who feeds the ball to Griffin against Gasol on the block. Griffin makes a decisive move and drives baseline before Gasol wraps him up and escorts him to the ground. Griffin hits both free throws. 85-82, Memphis
Continue on, especially if your name rhymes with Minny Gel Rango.
3:08, 4th Quarter: Memphis ball. This is the most brilliant play of the night. Rudy Gay clears the left side of the floor for Conley and Gasol. Foye trails Conley on the ball screen, Griffin shows, and Gasol rolls into the open area. Martin makes the correct rotation to cut off Gasol’s path to the basket once he receives it, but the big Spaniard drops a perfect pass to Martin’s man (Randolph) for the easy flush. Griffin is at fault for not slowing down the initial action, but Paul is the main guy to blame — he gets caught watching Gay curl up on the misdirection, and loses track of the ball completely. 87-82, Memphis
How ’bout an actual field goal? Skip ahead to :11.
I’d rather watch Chris Paul be a shell of his usual self. Continue to 2:40.
2:40, 4th Quarter: Paul goes iso on Tony Allen and spins to freedom (I see you, Ralph), but there’s big ol’ Zach Randolph, once again playing excellent help defense. Paul is trapped in the air and tries to draw contact, but the result is an ugly missed layup. On the other end, Marc Gasol misses an open jumper from the high post, but Zach Randolph rips Martin to the ground in order to chase down the offensive board. Paul and Randolph are both there, but the ball goes out on Paul.
Uh oh. Z-Bo just knocked you the F out…of rebounding position! Continue the dull pain of wasted possessions at 2:15.
2:15, 4th Quarter: Tony Allen gets a wide open corner 3 and misses…but Randy Foye gets caught on Randolph on the switch, and does very little to get Randolph out of prime rebounding position. Butler pinches down, but it’s of no use. Randolph corrals yet another offensive rebound. Tick tick tick. Still 87-82, Memphis
I trust Randy Foye to use a critical possession with something other than a 21-foot fallaway. Skip ahead to Utopia.
Watch the beginning of Foye’s implosion. Continue to 1:36.
1:36, 4th Quarter: Luckily for the Clippers, Tony “Trick or Treat” Allen smashes the pumpkin into the ground between four defenders, and Paul gets the steal. After Griffin tries to hot potato it to a blanketed Caron Butler in the corner, the Clippers inbound and and Randy Foye shoots a fallaway, 21 footer that Marc Gasol contests. It’s off. Worse yet, Foye watches it go short and doesn’t follow it. The ball bounces directly back to his area, but Z-Bo has the better nose for it. The Clippers have not scored a field goal in over five minutes. 87-82, Memphis
To end the pain, stop cheering for the Clippers.
Watch your best free throw shooter miss a critical one. Continue to 1:05.
1:05, 4th Quarter: Conley shoots an ugly floater in the lane after some curious pick and roll D by Griffin. Paul collects the rebound and immediately gets ran over by Conley in one of the dumber fouls you’ll ever see. Paul is automatic at the line, but not tonight. He misses the first, hits the second. 87-83, Memphis
To see Randy Foye and Chris Paul make the same mistake your rec league team does and then get punished with the same bad call your rec league team does, continue to :56.
To watch Reggie Evans get T’d up for giving Blake Griffin a high five on a never ending loop, go to the internet.
56:, 4th Quarter: One of the biggest brain farts of the night right here. Chris Paul makes the free throw. He goes to pick up Mike Conley. Only one problem — Randy Foye, who was in the backcourt during the free throw, also decides he would like to cover Mike Conley. Tony Allen, who is now all by himself, streaks up the left side of the court. Paul sprints back to get his man…and fouls Allen at the rim.
It looks like a foul, anyway. Slow motion replays show Paul gets all ball, but a 6-foot nothing guy rarely gets the benefit of the doubt when it comes to blocked shots. If it looks unbelievable, it often is.
There’s another example of terrible communication that led to an easy opportunity. Allen makes both free throws. 89-83, Memphis
To temporarily have hope before getting crushed, continue to :48.
:48, 4th Quarter: In a must-score situation, Paul beats the trap and shows his best burst of speed all night. A quick dump off to Griffin right at the front of the rim ends in a Tony Allen foul on Griffin. Griffin hits them both. 89-85, Memphis
You’ve made it this far. Don’t turn back now. Continue to :39.
:39, 4th Quarter: The Clippers go with full-court pressure, and Chris Paul comes this close to getting a steal on an ill-advised cross-court lob pass. Tony Allen again ends up with the ball somehow (really, Memphis? Is this that hard?) and Blake Griffin appears to get the tie-up before Allen shuffles his way out of the situation and walks. The refs call foul. Staples, at this point, is going bonkers.
If you want to have flashbacks to 2006 when a guard that shouldn’t have been in the game made a bad decision and contributed to a loss the team had no chance of recovering from, continue to :24.
:24, 4th Quarter: In a real “ball don’t lie” type moment, Allen misses the first free throw, then misses the second. The second bounces off the rim gently to the left. Marc Gasol has already bailed out and is headed back on defense. But then, Randy Foye comes flying out of nowhere to contest Caron Butler’s easy rebound. It’s like two outfielders colliding for a fly-ball. It’s something that could be erased with a simple “MINE!” call or something along those lines. Doesn’t happen. Foye’s momentum carries him out of bounds, where he steps on the line.
The looks on the faces of Foye, Butler and every Clipper say it all. The crowd is dead. The team is dead.
:23, 4th Quarter: The Grizzlies run a nice baseline out of bounds play to get Randolph rolling towards the rim. He gets fouled quickly, where he makes one of two. 90-85, Memphis
To be picked up and let down again, continue to :19.
:19, 4th Quarter: Butler misses a 3, and the ball finds Randolph again. It starts to really set in at this point. Randolph does his best to keep it interesting though, and misses both free throws.
:11, 4th Quarter: Foye races up the floor again, but there’s Randolph (dude is everywhere) to knock the ball away. But then on the out of bounds play…life! Foye gets an open look at the top of the key after a nice pump fake and drains it to pull the Clippers within two with 3.7 seconds left. 90-88, Memphis
You’ve made it! Your adventure is almost complete. Continue to 3.7 for the thrilling conclusion.
3.7, 4th Quarter: As Foye goes to cover Allen — who has taken off — Marc Gasol quickly grabs the ball out of the net and steps behind the line to inbound. Bledsoe has a mental breakdown after the shot goes through — he stands around under the rim, perhaps expecting a timeout to be called. Once he realizes that Gasol intends to inbound, he sprints for Mike Conley…but it’s a race even Bledsoe can’t win. Conley flies up the court, Bledsoe can’t catch him in time, and Conley throws the ball in the air to end the game. Final: 90-88, Memphis
You lose. Thanks for playing Choose Your Own Disaster. You can now either:
Put all of your faith in Chris on Sunday.