Grizzlies Prevent Another Clippers Comeback; Spurs And Pacers Destroy The Competition

Considering the rare tragedies and triumphs that dominated Wednesday’s sports headlines — from the death of Junior Seau to Jered Weaver throwing a no-hitter for the Angels — nothing in the NBA playoffs could have happened to make the day feel any more surreal. Not even the fact that the Clippers and Grizzlies delivered the best game of the night. Wait a minute: Clippers? Grizzlies? Playoffs? You’re talking about playoffs? … Having been on the wrong side of that incredible Game 1 fourth-quarter comeback, Memphis faced a gut check in Game 2. Dropping two in a row at home and sending the series back to Lob Angeles would be the same as basically handing Chris Paul a broom to sweep them into the summer, so good thing for the Grizzlies that they took care of business in a 105-98 win … Rudy Gay had 21 points to lead Memphis, highlighted by a backwards two-hand dunk he threw down in transition with Eric Bledsoe in his hip pocket. Who even tries that? Rudy is one of the few guys who will not only challenge anybody at the rim, but challenge them with reverses and windmills like he’s in a dunk contest … The fourth quarter would be the real test for Memphis, and O.J. Mayo came through with 10 of his 20 points during the frame. If the rest of the team still had a few psychological scars from Game 1, O.J. refused to let them get exposed. He hit a couple of clutch threes to keep the Clips at a distance … Is there a better style clash matchup than the one between Blake Griffin and Zach Randolph? Blake (22 pts, 9 rebs) is almost all athleticism and effort — he pulled off a sick double-clutch fully extended dunk after taking off from the dotted line — with his skill set very much a work in progress. Meanwhile, Z-Bo (15 pts, 8 rebs) survives on skills and craftiness, because he can’t jump over a carrot and runs slower than Rex RyanTony Allen might be the best perimeter defender in the NBA, and it would take the average rec-league ballplayer about three days to score on him, but the Clippers had Allen looking foolish a couple of times. The first was when Allen got caught standing under DeAndre Jordan before Chris Paul (29 pts, 5 stls) put up a lob that Jordan threw down with enough force to dent the floor. The second was when Allen wound up alone in the lane at CP3’s mercy, a quick ball fake shaking him back to Stillwater, Oklahoma … Somebody decided the Jazz should’ve worn their green uniforms in Game 2 against the Spurs — maybe because Utah got smashed in Game 1 when they went with purple. Didn’t matter. Just wearing the colors won’t turn anybody into The Incredible Hulk or Green Lantern, both of whom Tyrone Corbin needed to guard Tony Parker (18 pts, 9 asts) and Tim Duncan (12 pts, 13 rebs) in the 114-83 rout … San Antonio went on a 20-0 run in the first half that put it away, which led to a funny exchange caught on TNT’s mics when Gregg Popovich was trying to manage Parker’s minutes and TP begged to stay in: “I didn’t play for three days, Pop. I’m 29 years old!” Cory Joseph should try that one. He’s 20 and doesn’t play for weeks at a time … Pop was presented with his NBA Coach of the Year trophy by Duncan and David Robinson. Is there a more useless award in the league? The best coaches hardly ever win it because their teams are consistently good and meet high expectations, whereas voters tend to reward coaches whose teams only exceed low expectations. Guys like Popovich have to turn water into wine (or turn Boris Diaw‘s bacon milkshake into grapefruit juice) to get the trophy. Then again, if the Spurs hadn’t lost in the first round of the 2011 playoffs, we doubt Pop would have won COY in 2012 … Keep reading to hear who won Defensive Player of the Year…

So if Derrick Rose‘s knee injury supposedly paves an easy path for LeBron and the Heat to the NBA Finals, what should we call the situation in front of Roy Hibbert now that Dwight Howard can’t play in this Pacers/Magic series? Big Boy Roy is looking at a yellow brick road lined with cotton candy and flashing lights to guide the way to the second round, isn’t he? … Hibbert posted 18 points, 10 boards and 3 blocks in the Pacers’ 97-74 win over Orlando in Game 3 to take a 2-1 series lead. Danny Granger dropped 26 points and 5 treys … OK, so Big Baby Davis is not Dwight Howard. Any confusion about that was wiped away when Hedo Turkoglu fed Big Baby (22 pts) in the lane and he got stuffed by Hibbert while eating hardwood in the process. But to his credit, Big Baby made some 18-20 footers that Dwight would need a guide dog to hit. Then on one move, Big Baby drove baseline right and spun hard to his left, ending up near the dotted line in the middle of the lane before sticking a fadeaway … Tyson Chandler won the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year award, ending Dwight Howard’s three-year reign and beating second-place finisher and league-leading shot blocker Serge Ibaka. (Howard was third in the voting.) Chandler averaged a modest 1.4 blocks per game, but his impact on the Knicks’ D was reflected more in the team’s stats. You could chalk this one up to NYC hype, but we’d like to think the voters are getting smarter; like the baseball writers who vote for the Cy Young and finally figured out that wins for a pitcher aren’t a very telling stat, maybe the NBA voters are no longer looking at simply blocks/boards stats … We’re out like Vilma

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