It's hard not to see a correlation between Chris Paul's return and the end of Blake Griffin's mini-slump. Either that or defending Griffin straight up with Rudy Gay is a bad idea. This was "Beast-Mode Blake" -- realizing that no one on Memphis was quick or strong enough to keep him out of the paint, he attacked relentlessly, finding shooters when the defense collapsed.
After barely looking for his shot in his first game back, Paul was on the attack tonight from tipoff, nailing consecutive threes in the first quarter. Unfortunately, the control and intention that Paul brings to each possession disappears in his absence -- during Paul's eight minutes on the bench in the first half the Clips scored -- wait for it -- four points.
Billups' reputation for savvy decision-making and deadly range precedes him -- hopefully it doesn't continue to elude him. Mr. Big Shot had another in a series of troubling games, too often choosing a difficult shot over an open man. If Billups can't take care of the ball (four turnovers) or shoot better (under 30 percent over the past five games), Mo Williams' minutes will continue to increase.
Both teams wore custom jerseys honoring their city's roots in the defunct ABA, a league known for its flashy, wide-open play. Unfortunately, the Grizzlies' (Memphis Tams) garish green-and-yellow ensemble wasn't the ugliest thing on the court. Turnovers, botched dunks, flagrants, rebounds fumbled out of bounds -- this was more Dr. Strangelove than Dr. J.
Off to a 3-6 start, and already without Zach Randolph, the Griz seemed to be returning to mediocrity after their surprising playoff run last season. But recently Memphis has been playing -- and winning -- a lot like they did last spring, wreaking havoc with pressure defense. A scrappy effort made a game out of what looked like an early blowout, but Memphis didn't have the shooters to clinch the road win.