CALIFORNIA – Chris Paul made the game-winner with a tenth of a second left last night to lift the Los Angeles Clippers to a 93-91 win over the Memphis Grizzlies at the Staples Centre that stretched their NBA playoff series lead to 2-0.
And in New York, determined defence and a gritty performance from injured Joakim Noah helped the Chicago Bulls notch a 90-82 victory over the Brooklyn Nets that evened their NBA Eastern Conference playoff series.
The Clippers’ victory followed their 112-91 triumph on Saturday in game one of the best-of-seven Western Conference first-round series, which shifts to Memphis for game three on Thursday.
Memphis centre Marc Gasol’s slam dunk with 13.9 seconds remaining had knotted the score at 91-91.
After a timeout, Paul drove to the basket and banked in a shot over Tony Allen.
Officials reviewed the play and declared the basket good. Memphis had a chance to inbound the ball, but with just a tenth of a second on the clock the Grizzlies had no time to get the ball in the basket.
“We were on him,” Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins said of Paul’s heroics. “What can you do? The kid made a tough shot. He’s a great player. That’s what great players do – they win games.”
Paul finished with 24 points, nine assists and four rebounds for the Clippers. Blake Griffin added 21 points and eight rebounds.
Mike Conley led the Grizzlies with 28 points and nine assists. Gasol added 17 points and seven rebounds for Memphis, who trailed by 12 early in the fourth quarter.
Meanwhile, the Bulls bounced back from a disappointing game-one defeat to knot the best-of-seven first-round series at one game apiece, with game three back in Chicago on Thursday.
Noah, playing through painful right foot injury, scored nine of his 11 points in the fourth quarter, and finished with 10 rebounds, and two blocks as the Bulls bounced back from a 106-89 loss in game one on Saturday.
Bulls forward Luol Deng added 15 points, 10 rebounds and two blocks, while Carlos Boozer and Kirk Hinrich chipped in 13 points apiece.
Boozer also pulled down 12 rebounds for the Bulls, who connected on 48.1 per cent of their shots from the field.
Brook Lopez scored 21 points with three blocks for the Nets, with Joe Johnson adding 17 and CJ Watson contributing 10.
But the Bulls, who displayed an uncharacteristically porous defence in game one, limited Brooklyn to just 35.4 per cent shooting from the floor.
The Nets, in the playoffs in their first season since moving to the New York City borough of Brooklyn, were trying for their first 2-0 lead in a post-season series since the first round in 2004 – when they swept the New York Knicks.