Clippers vs. Grizzlies: Chris Paul's game-winner hardly surprises anyone involved

USA TODAY Sports

What else did you expect Chris Paul to do Monday?

As Monday night's game between the Los Angeles Clippers and the Memphis Grizzlies worked closer and closer to its conclusion, it began to seem apparent how it would end: Chris Paul would win it.

Of course, watching to find out how he'd do it was fun, but he took over the game in the fourth quarter for the Clippers, first leading them to a lead as large as 12 points with under 10 minutes to go, then breaking two ties in the final 90 seconds of the game to give the Clippers a 2-0 lead as the series turns to Memphis.

If you didn't see the game-winning runner in all its beauty -- and it was beautiful, because Memphis' Tony Allen defended the play about as well as it could be defended, giving up neither too much space for a jumper or too little space to send an 88.5-percent shooter to the free throw line in the final seconds of a tie game -- here it is:

Cp3wins_medium

Paul scored the Clippers' final eight points over the game's final four minutes, and each trip down the floor, his command and sure-handed presence seemed calming to the home team. He took over when the Clippers needed him to. Paul was 4-of-5 from the field on Los Angeles' final seven possessions. His one miss was a desperate heave after a jump ball as the shot clock expired with 22 seconds to play.

The consensus among those in post-game interviews was that, to paraphrase, great players like Paul hit great shots in key moments. See if you can differentiate the following quotes, said by three different people during three different sessions at the post-game news conference Monday night:

In the biggest moments, that's when he's usually at his best. He has the competitive edge and the drive to want to be in those moments, and that's a gift.

They threw it in bounds, he went and got it, he went baseline. What can you do? The kid made a tough shot. He's a great player. That's what great players do.

He just hit a tough shot. That's what great players do. We did the best we could have done to defend him.

(If it really matters: The first was Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro, the second was Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins, and the third was Grizzlies point guard Mike Conley.)

During the same post-game news conference, a reporter asked Paul about the final play and the quarter leading up to it. He was excited to ask the question, as we all would have been, because it was an exciting moment that further illuminated the superior skill of best player in the league at his position. Paul laughed it off.

I don't think it's that dramatic. It's just basketball.

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