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2013 NBA Playoffs: Bulls Get Even, Clippers Escape with Win

There were only two games played in the NBA Playoffs tonight, and both were the (4)-(5) match-ups in each respective conference.  In the Brooklyn-Chicago series, the Bulls succeeded in evening up the score, while the Clippers wild win improved their lead over the Grizzlies. Here is the recap of each game:

(4) Nets: 82, (5) Bulls: 90

The first road win of the 2013 NBA Playoffs belongs to the Chicago Bulls, as a balanced offensive effort and a strong defensive third quarter allowed them to even the series at 1 win a piece.  After going into halftime with a one point lead, the Bulls were able to limit the Nets to 11 points on 2-19 shooting (11%) in the 3rd and gain a twelve point lead heading into the final quarter.  However, Brooklyn remained resilient, as they were able to cut their deficit to 4 on an 8-0 run midway through the period to make the final minutes of game 2 interesting.  In the end, Chicago was able to execute down the stretch and maintain their lead, and they ended up running away with an 8 point victory.  For the Bulls tonight, 3 players recorded double-doubles: Luol Deng finished with 15 points and 10 boards on 7-17, Carlos Boozer put up 13 points and 12 rebounds on 6-12, and Joakim Noah ended with 11 points and 10 boards on 4-8.  Both point guards for Chicago scored in double-digits as well, with starter Kirk Hinrich producing 13 on 4-10 and 5'9 Nate Robinson scoring 11 on 4-11.  Defense was the biggest factor in the Bulls win, as they were able to hold the Nets to 35% from the floor and 19% from 3 point range in their own gym.  With the solid all-around effort from Chicago on the road, they now have a chance to gain the series advantage on their home floor on Thursday.

For Brooklyn tonight, center Brook Lopez led the way with 21 on 7-14, while two guard Joe Johnson contributed 17 on 6-18. Point guard Deron Williams struggled tonight against the intense man-to-man defense played by Kirk Hinrich, and while he did record 10 assists, he shot an ugly 1-9 and finished with 8 points. Poor shooting from every area of the court lost the game for the Nets, and as a result, they need to win at least 1 game in Chicago in order to have a realistic chance of moving on to round 2.

(4) Clippers: 93, (5) Grizzlies: 91

What an exciting finish to an exciting game! With 13 seconds left on the clock, and with the score all tied up at 91, the Los Angeles Clippers inbounded the ball and gave it to their best closer, all-star point guard Chris Paul. As time winded down, Paul began to force his way towards the basket with defensive specialist Tony Allen pressuring him as much as possible. Despite the aggressive D, Paul stayed strong, dribbling down the lane with his right hand and using his left arm to counter the physical play by his opponent. Realizing time was running out, the star guard floated the ball over the outstretched arms of Allen and Memphis forward Darrell Arthur, and banked the baby in beautifully off the glass as time expired. Chris scored the previous 6 points to get his team in that position, so it was rather fitting he sealed the deal for LA. Paul had the best all-around game tonight for his team, as he produced 24 points and 9 assists on 9-17. Star forward Blake Griffin put up 21 on 9-18 to go along with 8 rebounds, and sixth man Jamal Crawford contributed 15 on 6-10. With the win, LA improved their advantage over Memphis to 2-0, and they are exactly where they want to be heading into game 3 in Memphis. 

Well, unfortunately for the Grizzlies, a thrilling victory for one team means a painful loss for the other. This squad put forth a valiant effort, but in the end it came up short. Point guard Mike Conley was excellent tonight for Memphis, producing 28 points and 9 assists on 9-18. Center Marc Gasol finished with 17 points and 7 boards on 6-14, shooting guard Tony Allen scored 16 and grabbed 10 boards on 6-9, and Zach Randolph contributed 13 and 8 on 5-10. It truly was a great team effort by the Grizzlies, and it was sad to see all of it go to waste. However, on a positive note, despite the 0-2 deficit, the team now has two home games to work themselves back in this series.