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Defining moment: Tie score. Clippers' ball. You knew Chris Paul was going to get it, and you knew Tony Allen would be sticking to him. Allen defended wonderfully, but great offense beat great defense, as Paul kissed in an impossible floater to give the Clippers a dramatic victory.
MVP: It wasn't just about the game winner. Chris Paul scored the Clippers' last eight points, once again asserting himself in the second half with jumper after jumper. Don't discount his one turnover in 36 minutes, either.
X factor: Before the heroics, Eric Bledsoe, Matt Barnes and the rest of the Clippers' second unit built up a double-digit lead by playing swarming defense. Memphis clawed back in it behind Mike Conley's slicing and dicing, but losing the bench battle 30-11 has to be tough for the Griz.
MVP: Chicago's defense. In a contest in which the scoring was terribly ugly on both sides, Chicago's real advantage was their locked-in D, which fed off its well-trained schematic principles to hold the Nets to 36 percent shooting and just 11 points during a game-shifting third quarter.
X factor: Joakim Noah was a rejuvenated force after a hobbled Game 1, hustling down the stretch and playing his most minutes since mid-March.
That was familiar: After ratcheting up expectations with a Game 1 blowout, Brooklyn fell back to their exhaustively stagnant routine in the third quarter and failed to build on a nascent home-crowd advantage. They'll have to rediscover their energy as the series heads to Chicago.
Why the Grizzlies will bounce back
One of the league's most proactive teams during the regular season was the Memphis Grizzlies, who traded leading scorer Rudy Gay to the Toronto Raptors at the end of January. In doing so, Memphis shook up a roster that seemed on the fringe of the championship derby, a decision that directed a lot of flak at the team's new decision-makers.
The results were glowingly positive for the denizens of Beale Street, but after the Grizzlies coughed and sputtered their way through a Game 1 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers, skeptics might wonder if Gay's absence is finally being felt. TNT play-by-play announcer Ian Eagle floated just that notion during the Oklahoma City-Houston broadcast Sunday night. Ultimately, Memphis' problem Saturday was indeed personnel related. The persons in question, however, were the men with whistles, not the subjects of any three-month-old transactions.
5-on-5: What to make of opening weekend
It was a busy opening weekend of the NBA playoffs. Our experts have it all covered. Let's debate!
1. What was the most pleasant surprise of the opening weekend?
Jared Dubin, Hardwood Paroxysm: Just average defensively this season, the Knicks won most of their games on the strength of a top-3 offense that didn't show up in Game 1. That they were able to jump out to a 1-0 lead on the Celtics by winning an ugly, half-court game with a fantastic defensive effort in the second half was indeed a pleasant surprise. The Knicks held Boston to just eight fourth-quarter points while forcing eight turnovers in the frame.
D.J. Foster, ClipperBlog: Brooklyn's offense. Watching Brooklyn lay waste to Chicago's vaunted defense was stunning, but the Nets have been quietly great offensively for quite some time now. The Nets rank third in offensive efficiency over the past 20 games, mainly because Deron Williams is scoring at an elite level. That said, no one saw this drubbing coming.
Beckley Mason, ESPN.com: The Clippers look like contenders. Blake Griffin and Zach Randolph wrestled to a draw, but the Clippers collectively looked sharp and focused in Game 1. Chris Paul, in particular, was dynamite, and the Clippers' muscular, athletic performance suggests they could really threaten the Thunder should they meet in Round 2. Jerry Stackhouse nailing his rendition of the national anthem before Game 1 in Brooklyn is a close second.
Danny Nowell, Portland Roundball: Andre Miller. Denver's point guard has been more venerable than electric for several years already, but his performance on Saturday was one of the most fun efforts this season. Twenty-eight points on 11-of-16 shooting and a game-winning layup is more than enough to snag this honor.
Ethan Sherwood Strauss, Warriors World: It looked like Andre Miller was schooling young Draymond Green on that game-winning layup. But really, Miller was shaking Father Time himself. Miller seized the playoff stage and delivered what might be the best postseason game ever by a middle-aged man, moving at 2 mph. We are all witnesses to a 37-year-old point guard with no All-Star track record scoring 28 points in 27 minutes of court time. Incredible.
Bruce Bowen and Israel Gutierrez discuss why all eight home teams won over the weekend and preview Monday's Game 2 action.
Griz-Clips: Five things to watch
Finding signs of encouragement after a 21-point loss can be like leading a search party in the dark, but if the Grizzlies are looking for some reassurance, it should come in the near certainty that they won't be outrebounded again by a 2-to-1 margin. If that seemed unprecedented, that's because it was. Memphis didn't come anywhere close to a margin like that in any game during the regular season.
There's a general belief that rebounding doesn't slump in the NBA. A team like the Grizzlies, which dominated the boards in the regular season (second in overall rebounding rate), doesn't forget how to ply its trade. Short of injury or a deliberate strategy like a zone defense or fronting the post -- tactics that can make it harder to crash the glass -- a debacle such as Saturday night's is an outlier.
The Grizzlies better hope so. They're not a team endowed with much perimeter firepower or natural athleticism. They win basketball games by controlling possessions, something they simply can't accomplish if the Clippers are collecting 42 percent of their misses.
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Teammates stand behind Rose
NEW YORK -- The waiting media gathered on the lower level of one of the ritziest hotels in New York City on Sunday afternoon to speak with Tom Thibodeau and his Chicago Bulls after they were manhandled in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals by the Brooklyn Nets.
As the players began to file out of a conference room that had been taped on the floor to resemble one half of a basketball court, two lines began to form to give the players a walkway to get to their next destination. Player after player filed out without much interruption, and then Derrick Rose appeared.
"What's up?" he asked congenially several times as he made his way out the doors.
Challenge: Don't let Bulls get even
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Brooklyn Nets point guard Deron Williams says the Chicago Bulls are probably going to play Monday's Game 2 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals with a sense of urgency.
The Bulls essentially have their backs against the wall because they don't want to go down 2-0 in the series. So it's up to the Nets to match their opponent's urgency and not allow Chicago to steal one on the road.
"The even-numbered games are the hard games to get ready for," Nets interim coach P.J. Carlesimo said before Sunday's practice. "When one team has that advantage, which is usually the even-numbered games, that's a hard one. Often times, the desperation level decides the game. You've still gotta play, but if one team wants it a little more or is a little desperate, that sometimes carries those even-numbered games."