AMAZING: Storm back from 27 points behind in the second half
MEMPHIS: THE Los Angeles Clippers stormed back from a 27-point second-half deficit on Sunday to beat the Memphis Grizzlies 99-98 in the first game of their NBA Western Conference first-round series.
Chris Paul's two free throws with 23.7 seconds left gave the Clippers the one-point lead, and Rudy Gay missed a jump shot as time expired that would have salvaged the victory for the Grizzlies on their home court.
The Clippers' remarkable rally, after they trailed by 24 points with nine minutes remaining, followed emphatic victories for the top-seeded San Antonio Spurs and perennial contenders the Los Angeles Lakers in their first-round openers.
"I can't tell you how proud I am of the guys," said Clippers coach Vinny del Negro. "The guys just gutted it out."
Nick Young scored 19 points off the bench, including three three-pointers that were part of the Clippers' storming finish.
Paul finished with 14 points, Blake Griffin added 17 and Caron Butler scored 12 before suffering a broken left hand in the second half.
Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins said his players became complacent as their lead hovered around 20 points for much of the contest.
"We just got careless," he said. "We lost a little bit of our discipline from a defensive perspective."
With the Clippers on the road, the Lakers held court in Los Angeles, where All-Star centre Andrew Bynum delivered a dazzling defensive display in their 103-88 victory over the Denver Nuggets.
He matched the NBA playoff record for blocked shots in a game with 10, part of a "triple-double" that included 13 rebounds and 10 points.
Bynum had the Lakers' first post-season "triple-double" since Magic Johnson managed the feat in the 1991 NBA Finals.
Although he was pleased to follow in the footsteps of one of the league's greats, Bynum said the victory was the most important thing.
Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant scored 31 points and Spanish import Pau Gasol added 13 points, eight rebounds and eight assists.
In San Antonio, Tony Parker scored 28 points and Tim Duncan added 17 to lead the Spurs over the Utah Jazz 106-91.
Duncan grabbed a game-high 11 rebounds while Parker contributed a game-high eight assists and Stephen Jackson added 14 points for San Antonio, who had not won a playoff series opener in six tries over the past four years.
Last season as the top seeds in the West, the Spurs dropped their opening game at home to Memphis and were eliminated in six games in the first round.
Parker scored 12 points in the second quarter to spark the Spurs to a 54-47 half-time lead and San Antonio stretched the margin through the second half, the largest edge being 104-87 with two minutes remaining. AFP