Join Cerrito Live and HardBashin producer CJ Hurt and Sports 56 producer and WUMR Sports Desk host Drew Barrett as they take you on a sports odyssey full of twists, turns, and a good time during Playing Hurt Podcast.
With so many great moments happening this past year it is tough to select just three. In true MemphiSport fan fashion, you the fans found a loop hole in the rules and managed to get four moments on this Most Memorable list. Yes, they are ties in the M Awards presented by the 17th Annual Sports Ball Black-Tie Tennis Shoe Gala. Maybe next year we will decide ties with a penalty kick shoot out.
Tony Allen ninja kicking Chris Paul in the face, First Place: 35%
ESPN GameDay at FedExForum, Second Place: 15%
James Johnson’s off the backboard dunk vs. the Clippers, Third Place (tie): 14%
Pastner getting his first win over Top 25 team, Third Place (tie): 14%
Visit MemphiSport.com daily in the month of July for a new winner in MemphiSport’s annual M Awards presented by the 17th Annual Sports Ball Black-Tie Tennis Shoe Gala.
MORE WINNERS: VIEW ALL OF THE M AWARDS WINNERS ANNOUNCED SO FAR
IRVING, Texas — Kevin Durant’s emotional speech last week during a new conference in which the Oklahoma City Thunder superstar was named the NBA’s Most Valuable Player not only impacted the sports world, but it also has left a favorable impression among various religious organizations.
Such was the case Sunday morning when longtime West Irving Church of God In Christ senior pastor Andrew Jackson, Jr., played a portion of Durant’s 20-minute speech throughout the sanctuary’s loudspeakers as his congregation tuned in with intentness during its Mother Day’s service.
According to Jackson, Durant’s tribute to his mother, Wanda Pratt, during a tear-jerking, demonstrative speech was a vital reminder of the tireless contributions, particularly in homes run by single African-American women.
“Basically, in this society where we having so many homes being led by women, I think it’s important that they receive encouragement and support for what they do,” Jackson, who relocated to the Dallas area from Memphis in December 1986, told MemphiSport. “Raising boys and raising girls…the father may be missing in the home and all of that pressure and responsibility fall on the single mother. And to read Kevin’s Durant’s story and to hear of his story, his mother was his motivation. She encouraged and she pushed him even when they were told they were not going to make it.”
Pratt, the mother of four, gave birth to Durant when she was 21 years old. The Washington, D. C. native has since emerged as arguably the most-celebrated player in the NBA.
This year, Durant was a unanimous choice for league MVP after leading the NBA with 32 points per game, becoming the first player to win both the scoring title and MVP award in the same year since Allen Iverson did it in 2000-2001.
Durant scored a game-high 40 points in Game 4 of the Thunder’s best-of-7 playoff series Sunday against the Los Angeles Clippers. But that weren’t enough as the Clippers erased a 22-point first half deficit to even the series at two games apiece with a 101-99 win.
Game 5 is Tuesday night at 8:30 CST in OKC’s Chesapeake Energy Arena.
Durant all but solidified the NBA’s highest individual achievement award when he registered at least 25 points for 41 consecutive games, a stretch that prompted Miami’s LeBron James to hint that his two-year run as league MVP was nearing an end.
“I would say he’s playing the most consistent basketball as far as MVP this year,” James told MemphiSport during an April 9 interview. “I mean, he’s put up some great numbers.”
Durant’s remarkable display ultimately led him generating 119 of the possible 125 first-place votes. James, a four-time league MVP, amassed the remaining six first-place votes.
During his acceptance speech, a tearful Durant expressed thanks to his mother for looking out for him and his siblings, labeling her “the real MVP.” His tribute was replayed Sunday throughout West Irving’s sanctuary, one Jackson acknowledged was paralleled to the sermon he gave to his congregation: “What Kind Of Woman Am I?”
Jackson, the son of longtime Memphis-area pastor Andrew Jackson, Sr., told the 300-plus worshippers five things a virtuous woman should do, one of which is to influence the community.
“She’s going to the PTA meetings, she’s talking to the principal, she’s there making herself known,” Jackson told his congregation. “She influences the community in a way that it is positive.”
In addition, Jackson said he believes Durant’s speech is just what the NBA needed amid the controversy surrounding embattled Clippers owner Donald Sterling. Sterling’s recorded racial remarks, recently released by TMZ, sent shock waves throughout the sports world and black community, thus leading to his lifetime ban from the NBA.
“I think (Durant’s) speech saved the NBA,” Jackson said. “I think his speech really put a huge impact on the NBA because first of all, the NBA is made up of 80 percents minorities. And for him to have that wherewithal of what his mother did for him, that was really about African-American boys. It’s a great sport that many people enjoy and I just think that Kevin Durant sealed the deal.”
Also, Jackson said that while Durant’s detailed tribute to his mother is prevalent to the issues within the black community, he hopes other preachers will share his speech with their congregation.
“It’s out of the box,” Jackson said. “It’s certainly speaks to our society when most homes in the African-American community are being led by single mothers.”
What happens when you combine one of the most most memorable Memphis Grizzlies moments of the young 2013-14 season with one of the most popular video games of the 1990s?
You get Tony Allen kicking off Chris Paul’s head in a Mortal Kombat “Fatality.”
Watch the Mortal Kombat version of Tony Allen kicking Chris Paul in the face:
(GIF via imgur.com)
By now, everyone in Memphis has seen the clip of Grizzlies guard Tony Allen ninja kicking Clippers guard Chris Paul in the face.
But you haven’t really seen it until you’ve seen the “Kung Fu Fighting” Remix from guyism.com.
Watch the “Kung Fu Fighting” remix of Tony Allen’s kick:
A must win Game 3 saw Memphis come out in desperate fashion to ensure that this first round playoff series would not result in a sweep. So far neither team has been able to steal a game on the road, which is a good thing for the Grizzlies going into Game 4 in FedExForum. The Grizzlies are 32-9 at home this season, proving that The Grindhouse is one of the most difficult places for opposing teams to win in the NBA.
The last thing Memphis wants to do is go back to Staples Center down 3-1. A Game 4 loss would mean the Grizzlies would have to win twice in L.A. where they are just 2-8 against the Clippers the past two seasons including the playoffs (1-4 against the Clippers on the road in the playoffs).
Game 4 is another must win game for Memphis, and here is a look at 5 Things the Grizzlies must do to even this series up:
1). Contain Chris Paul
This is a feat that is easier said than done. After all, CP3 is a four time All-NBA selection, and capable of taking over a game during pivotal stretches (like he did in Game 2). However, Memphis showed in Game 3 that it is not impossible to slow down the six time All Star. He was averaging 19.2 points and 8.4 assists in five games against the Memphis this year, but he was held to just eight points and four assists in the Grizzlies Game 3 victory. It was the first time this year Memphis held Paul to single digit points, and rendered him ineffective for most of the contest. There were multiple defenders around him all night long, which disrupted the Clippers pick and roll offense (something that they were able to run extremely well in the first two games of the series). If the Grizzlies plan to even the series, slowing down Paul has to be at the top of their to do list.
2). Win the battle in the paint
No surprises here, especially considering Memphis is 0-3 against the Clippers this season when L.A. outscores the Grizzlies in the paint. Memphis is shooting a woeful 28.3 percent from behind the arc, and 43.5 percent from the field in this playoff series, which makes getting good shots from in the lane all the more important. In Game 3, the Grizz did a great job of dominating the paint, outscoring the Clippers by 14 points in that category. They were led by Zach Randolph who finished the game with 27 points and 11 rebounds, for his first double-double of the series.
3). Get quality minutes from the bench
The much maligned Memphis bench got a boost from Quincy Pondexter in Game 3, and they will need to replicate their overall effort to beat L.A. in Game 4. The Clippers have one of the best benches in the league, and outscoring them is not something that happens too often. However, nobody is asking the Grizzlies bench players to do that. The only thing they need to do is give Coach Hollins quality and mistake free minutes, so that the starters can rest and be ready for the inevitable late game push.
4). Continue feeding Zach Randolph
It is simple, he is the All-Star on the team, and the most dangerous scorer on the team, so your best option is to make sure he gets plenty of touches. Z-Bo had 18 field goal attempts in game three after having just 20 combined in games one and two. He has been extremely efficient in the series and is shooting 53 percent from the field, which is all the more reason to get him the ball in scoring position. Randolph has to do his part also and create scoring opportunities for himself in the form of offensive rebounds (He had six Thursday after having four combined in the first two games of the series). Another big game from Randolph would certainly improve the probability this series goes back to L.A. nodded up at two games apiece.
5). Hold the Clippers under 90 points
Memphis had the best defense in the NBA this season, allowing opponents to average just 89.3 points per game. However, L.A. is averaging just under 95 points per game against Memphis this year, which is well over the Grizzlies season average. In fact, the seven times these two teams have met this year, the Grizzlies have allowed the Clippers to score more than 90 points five times. All of these times have resulted in losses for Memphis (subsequently Memphis held the Clippers under 90 points in both of their victories this season). Holding the Clippers under 90 points means that the Grizzlies are controlling the tempo by not turning the ball over, securing rebounds (both offensive and defensive), and not giving up easy buckets in transition.
CJ Hurt covers NBA basketball for MemphiSport. Follow him @churtj09 for live tweets from games.
- Photos: Famous faces at game 3 of Grizzlies vs. Clippers
- Steve Kerr doesn’t like Rick Trotter, Memphis doesn’t like Steve Kerr
- Memphis only has room for one bandwagon
The Grizzlies announced their regular season games for the 2012-2013 season and it is full of intriguing matchups. Thanks to consecutive trips to the post season, Memphis has 15 nationally televised games, the most ever in franchise history. They get the annual MLK game, this year it is against the Pacers, and get to play every NBA team at home this season after not playing the Celtics and the Heat at the Forum last year. Here is a list of five games every Grizzlies’ fan should watch this year.
LA Clippers October 31st @ The Staples Center
This is the Grizzlies first game of the year and it comes against the team that eliminated them from the playoffs in the first round, in a thrilling seven game series last season. The Clippers should be one of the West’s best teams and give Memphis a good gauge of how good they are at the start of the season. The masters of flop are down one phenomenal flopper in Reggie Evans and Nick Young. However, Chauncey Billups will be back and LA has added Jamal Crawford and Mr. Kardashian himself Lamar Odom, so they should be even better this year. A back court of Billups and Chris Paul with Blake Griffin at power forward is going to be difficult to matchup with, but will be an exciting first game for all Grizzlies’ fans.
Utah Jazz November 5th @ FedExForum
This is the home opener for Memphis and it comes against a very good opponent. The Jazz were a playoff team last season, and while nobody is going to get any Jazz player confused with Karl Malone or John Stockton, they are very capable of ruining the festivities for fans during the home opener. Memphis is 3-1 the past two years against the Jazz at home, so a win is highly probable on opening night.
Miami Heat November 11th @ FedExForum
A Sunday night game against the defending NBA champions is cause for excitement every year. Lebron James, Dwayne Wade, and Chris Bosh return to Memphis for the first time since 2010 thanks to the lockout. The last time the Heat visited the “Grind House” Rudy Gay hit a last second shot over James to give Memphis a 97-95 victory. Add to it that this Heat team has former Grizzlies’ fan favorites Mike Miller and Shane Battier and you have a must watch scenario for Grizzlies’ fans.
Oklahoma City Thunder November 14th @Chesapeake Energy Arena
Just three days after taking on the Finals Champion Miami Heat, the Grizzlies take a trip to Oklahoma City to battle the Western Conference Champion. The hated Thunder have several superstars including the two time NBA scoring champion Kevin Durant and Serge Ibaka a First Team All NBA Defensive selection. Perhaps the most intriguing player on the Thunder roster is former first round draft pick by Memphis, Hasheem Thabeet. He has been dubbed a bust in Memphis, and nothing would make Grizzlies’ fans more upset than seeing Thabeet play a significant role on a title contender especially OKC. This is also the Grizzlies first nationally televised game of the year.
Dallas Mavericks February 27th @ FedExForum
The Grizzlies are 5-2 against the Mavs the past two seasons. And this divisional rivalry has had some additional fuel added to the fire with OJ Mayo becoming a member of the Mavs this season. This will be Mayo’s second trip back to the Forum after averaging 15.2 points per game as a member of the Grizzlies. It will be an emotional game for Mayo and fans who have grown accustomed to seeing him put the three point guns in their holster throughout the past four seasons. It is also the regular season finale and playoff positioning might be on the line.
CJ Hurt covers the Grizzlies for MemphiSport. Follow him @churtj09 for live tweets from FedExForum.
Los Angeles Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro walked up to Chris Paul in the locker room after Wednesday’s Game 5 of the opening round of the Western Conference playoffs at FedExForum, apparently relieved after learning that his star point guard’s injury that forced him to the bench in the waning moments wasn’t as serious as the team initially thought.
“That was good…better news,” said Del Negro while patting Paul on the back. “You’ll be alright.”
Paul, removing ice packs off both knees, agreed.
“Yeah, I’ll be alright,” he said.
Unfortunately for the Clippers, who were hoping to close out the Memphis Grizzlies in Game 6 Friday night at the Staple’s Center, Paul appeared hampered by a right hip flexor strain for a majority of the game. His ineffectiveness ultimately led to the Grizzlies evening the best-of-seven series at three games apiece with a 90-88 win.
Heading into Sunday’s decisive Game 7 before what will be a raucous FedExForum crowd, the Clippers will need a much healthier and effective Paul directing the offense if they are to prevent from becoming only the ninth team in NBA history to blow a 3-1 lead in the postseason.
Paul, who averages a team-best 20.7 points in the playoffs, was limited to just 11 points on 4-of-9 field goals in 35 minutes in Friday’s game, his lowest point total and minutes he’s had the entire series. What’s even worse for the Clippers, who must now win in a hostile environment for a second time, is that power forward Blake Griffin wasn’t at full strength for Game 6 after sustaining a left knee late in third quarter Game 5.
After Game 5 in Memphis, Paul and Griffin insisted that their injuries weren’t a cause for concern and that they both would be fully prepared for Game 6 in Los Angeles.
“There’s a difference in being hurt and being injured,” Paul told reporters after Wednesday’s game. “I just felt a little slight pain in my leg. “No pressure. We’re going to be okay. Obviously, we didn’t want to go back home (for Game 6), not right now anyway. But it is what it is.”
At the time, Paul also spoke about the importance of the Clippers needing to win Game 6 in their arena, given the FedExForum crowd hasn’t been too kind to them. Throughout much of the series, the Clippers have endured their share of rants and taunts from Grizzlies fans, who have routinely chanted “Beat L. A.” and booed Griffin each time he touches the ball.
One fan went as far as to hold up a big head of Paul wearing a baby bonnet draped over his head, while sucking a pacifier featuring the Clippers logo as a way of suggesting that Paul has spent much time whining and complaining to officials and the media about the Grizzlies’ aggressive play throughout the series.
Paul, however, admittedly welcomes the trash talk and constant scoldings he’s getting from Grizzlies fans.
“In a way, I love playing in hostile environments,” Paul said after the Clippers erased a 27-point second half deficit to win Game 1. “That way, I can take the crowd out of the game.”
Even if the Clippers don’t advance to the play the Spurs in the Western Conference semifinals, it’s clear that Paul’s presence has greatly impacted a franchise that has been the subject of constant jokes and endured decades of futility. After commissioner David Stern rejected a proposed three-team trade that would have sent Paul to the Lakers on December 8, the Clippers and New Orleans Hornets agreed to a trade that sent the five-time All Star to the Clippers.
Although Lakers guard Kobe Bryant has publicly labeled the Clippers “the other team,” it seems they are now being mentioned in the same breath as the Lakers, in large part because of the buzz Paul has created throughout the organization in his brief time with the team.
“He’s brought respect to that franchise,” said former NBA player Chris Webber, now a commentator for TNT. “I think the thing with him and Chauncey Billups is that everybody took them seriously because they won everywhere they’ve been. What they’ve done is come in and take this franchise seriously. He’s brought with him some respectibility to L. A.”
Still, the Clippers, one of the NBA’s youngest teams, have a long ways to go to catch up with their Staple’s Center counterparts.
“They’re going to be the little brothers to the Lakers,” Webber said, “But you’ve to work your way up the ladder.”
They can take yet another huge step with a win Sunday in Game 7. It certainly will take some doing, considering the injury-plagued Clippers will be up against a more experienced Grizzlies team that appears to be as healthy as it has been all season.
Fortunately for the Clippers, though, they have Paul, whom many believe has been the best player on the floor throughout this series.
“Chris Paul has been a force everywhere he’s been,” Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins said. “He’s a point guard with the ball in his hands. He’s going to have it 95 percent of the time. He’s made some big shots in this series. The Clippers are not a factor without Chris Paul. Without him, they wouldn’t have been up 3-1.”
Paul realizes the Clippers will need him to be an even bigger factor Sunday afternoon if they hope to earn more respect, particularly among Los Angeles fans. However, if the Clippers manage to shock Memphis again, Paul contends they wouldn’t have done anything more than winning a brutal opening-round series.
“Nothing,” said Paul, when asked what would advancing past the Grizzlies mean for the Clippers franchise. “It will just mean we won a series against a tough team. We’ve got to stick together and grind it out.”
Something the Clippers have been able to do since Paul’s mid-December arrival to L. A.
Andre Johnson is a regular contributor for MemphiSport. Follow him on Twitter @AJ_Journalist.
O. J. Mayo couldn’t sleep a wink.
Hours after the Memphis Grizzlies squandered a 27-point second-half lead to the Los Angeles Clippers en route to a 99-98 loss in Game 1 of the opening round of the Western Conference playoffs, Mayo didn’t pay much attention to what was being said or written about arguably the grandest collapse in franchise history.
Instead, the Grizzlies shooting guard took home video footage of the game and watched the fourth quarter repeatedly until he couldn’t bear to see it anymore.
“It was tough, really,” said Mayo, “watching that fourth quarter over and over again, four times.”
But watching repeats of the Grizzlies’ colossal meltdown against the Clippers, by and large, proved beneficial for Mayo, the team’s top reserve, who was dismayed so much by the loss, he went nearly two days without sleep and assumed much of the blame for Memphis having allowed a golden opportunity to slip away.
Unlike in the first game, when the Grizzlies became too relaxed after building a sizable cushion, Mayo exhibited more assertiveness in the pivotal Game 2, particularly in the game’s crucial stages.
He finished with 20 points on 6-of-16 shooting and played 24 minutes in helping the Grizzlies even their best-of-7 series against the Clippers at one game apiece. Ten of Mayo’s points came during a critical stretch in the fourth as he played all 12 minutes.
“I wanted a little bit bigger guy on (Clippers shooting guard) Mo Williams,” said Hollins, explaining his decision to play Mayo the entire fourth. “He did a good job on him. O. J. can play the one and two (guard positions), which is why Gilbert Arenas didn’t play.”
If the Grizzlies, who trail 2-1 in the series heading into Game 4 Monday night at the Staples Center, are to recapture home court advantage in what is shaping up to be an intense matchup against the Clippers, they will need more offensive contributions from their reserves.
That shouldn’t be such a hard task to accomplish, considering Memphis boasts one of the NBA’s deepest benches, with four players averaging double digits in minutes.
Mayo, a third-year pro, leads the Grizzlies’ reserves with 27 minutes per game.
Not bad for a player who, after last year’s postseason run that ended with the Grizzlies losing to Oklahoma City in seven games of the semifinals of the Western Conference playoffs, wasn’t sure if he would be back with the team this year.
After losing his starting spot to former Memphis and current New Orleans Hornets guard Xavier Henry last year, the 24-year-old Mayo was the subject of trade rumors midway through the season, in part because many believed that he and Hollins couldn’t co-exist after the coach benched him in favor of an unproven rookie.
Fortunately for Mayo, though he conceded that he handled losing his starting job in an immature way, he eventually took Hollin’s decision in stride. The midseason demotion, it seems, benefited Mayo considerably, much like the video footage of the Grizzlies’ disheartening Game 1 defeat.
That’s because Mayo witnessed his scoring average increase to 20 points per game as he helped the surging Grizzlies to a 32-22 record and wrap up the eighth and final playoff spot in the West.
Now that he has adjusted comfortably to his sixth man role, the Grizzlies will need more of Mayo’s offensive heroics if they are to remain in position to advance to the Western Conference semifinals for a second consecutive year.
“O. J. hit some timely shots,” Clippers point guard Chris Paul told reporters after their Game 2 loss. “Me and (Eric) Bledsoe didn’t do a good job of keeping him out of the lane. Me and Bledsoe slept on him a lot tonight.”
Fortunately for Mayo, the Grizzlies’ performance in Game 2 enabled him to catch up on much-needed rest, something that was virtually difficult to acquire after their playoff opener.
“We definitely, after Game 1, learned that our focus for the entire game was to stay focused,” Mayo said. “The great thing is that we had two days to prepare (for Game 2). I took a lot of that blame that we blew that lead.”
Which explains why he stayed awake long enough to ensure that he doesn’t repeat such costly mental mistakes.
Andre Johnson is a regular contributor for MemphiSport. Follow him on Twitter @AJ_Journalist.
No one seems to hang around the rim better than Los Angeles Clippers power forward Blake Griffin.
Ask Kris Humphries, Lamar Odom, Mario Chalmers, Channing Frye, Kendrick Perkins, and Pau Gasol, all of whom have been posterized by Griffin, arguably the NBA’s most enthralling dunker.
“He’s a good, young player…very athletic,” Memphis Grizzlies center Marc Gasol said of Griffin, whom he will often be assigned to guard when the Clippers and Grizzlies meet for Game 2 of their opening round best-of-7 Western Conference playoffs series Wednesday night at FedExForum.
Of these players, Pau Gasol, the Los Angeles Lakers power forward seemed to have been dealt the most humiliation while trying to defend whom his younger brother, Marc Gasol, described as the best finisher in the league.
Less than two minutes into an April 4 game at the Staples Center, Griffin caught a perfectly-timed miss by Randy Foye in mid-air then threw down a thunderous two-handed slam over Pau Gasol, sending the 7-foot Spaniard tumbling to the floor while drawing laughs from fellow teammate Andrew Bynum.
Later in the game, Griffin added yet another captivating highlight to his YouTube video repertoire.
After fielding a bounce pass from Caron Butler near the lane, the 6-foot-10 Griffin penetrated hard toward the basket then converted a one-handed slam that knocked Pau Gasol off balance as he plunged toward the floor.
Though many rated Griffin’s dunks over Pau Gasol among his best high percentage field goals this season, Marc Gasol dissented all of the hoopla surrounding the plays.
“I mean, it’s no big,” said Marc Gasol, who admittedly watched footage of Griffin’s dunks over his brother. “It’s two points.”
Two points that, on numerous occasions, have drawn continuous rave reviews, particularly among opposing fans whenever Griffin is left unguarded in the open court or is seen hanging around the basket.
While fans and opposing teams have come to embrace Griffin’s flamboyant style of play, the former University of Oklahoma star is steadily making a case for emerging as one of the young bright power forwards in the NBA.
Now in his second full season after a broken left kneecap sidelined him for what would have been his rookie campaign in 2009-2010, Griffin finished the regular season ranked tenth in the league in scoring at 20.7 points per game, fifth in rebounding (10.9 per game), fourth in double-doubles (42), and seventh in field goal percentage (.556).
After a disastrous first half showing in Game 1 in which he was limited to just two points on 1-of-3 shots against Memphis, Griffin played a pivotal role in the Clippers’ memorable 99-98 comeback win that was highlighted by them overcoming a 27-point second-half deficit.
He managed 15 of his 17 points after intermission, including 10 points during a key 26-1 spurt that translated into the Clippers’ first of the contest.
Besides producing four dunks in the contest, Griffin scored on close-range and jump hooks in the lane, a far cry from a first half against the Grizzlies in which he appeared mostly out of sync after missing badly on a number of open and closely-contested shots. What’s even worse is that he heard scattered booed by Grizzlies fans each time he touched the ball.
“For every 20 people that say something positive, there are going to be 20 people to say something negative…40 really,” Griffin said.
Among the Griffin’s constant struggles is his inability to make free throws. In two-plus seasons, Griffin is shooting 53 percent from the free throw line, something that, according to USA Today national NBA writer, J. Michael Falgoust, will continue to set the reigning Rookie of the Year apart from other elite power forwards.
“There are still some things he doesn’t do well,” Falgoust said of Griffin. “I look at his height for a guy his size, he doesn’t block shots well. I mean, right now, I’d take Kevin Love over him. He’s a liability on offense. He’s averaging 22 (points) a game. If he hits his free throws, he’s averaging 30 points a game.
Luckily for the 23-year-old Griffin, the 2009 No. 1 overall draft pick, his best days in the NBA are well ahead of him.
“It comes with a little bit of seasoning,” Falgoust said. “I still make Griffin a top five (power forward), but it’s roughly about fourth or fifth. When you consider 32 teams and all of the power forwards, that’s not so bad. He’s not fully maxed out and that’s the scary thing. When he develops more as a defensive player and hits 70 to 75 percent of his free throws, his numbers are just going to be completely explosive.”
Fortunately for Griffin, after the Lakers’ attempt to acquire Chris Paul fell through, the Clippers’ management was able to land the veteran point guard days before the start of the condensed regular season to help complement his game.
So far, it’s safe to assume that Griffin and Paul have managed to co-exist, especially given the immeasurable roles they played in what was a historic comeback for the ages in Game 1.
“I think everybody knows that Blake needs Chris and Chris needs Blake,” Grizzlies forward Rudy Gay said. They’re a great tandem.”
However, in what has now become a must-win situation for Memphis in Game 2, the Grizzlies realize they can’t afford to allow Paul to become comfortable orchestrating the offense, particularly if the game is hanging in the balance.
Also, the Grizzlies must devise ways to prevent Griffin from hanging freely around the basket, a gambit that’s been virtually difficult to achieve this year, considering Griffin finished with an NBA-best 192 dunks during the regular season.
“Right now, I’m just trying to become a better overall player,” Griffin said.
Especially since it’s obvious he has gotten this dunking thing down pat.
Ask Pau Gasol.
Andre Johnson is a regular contributor for MemphiSport. Follow him on Twitter @AJ_Journalist.