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Clippers starts NBA play-offs on winning note

Afp
Wednesday, May 02, 2012

LOS ANGELES - The Los Angeles Clippers stormed back from a 27-point second-half deficit on Monday 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 Memphis.

The Clippers' remarkable rally, after they trailed by 24 points with less than 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.

All-Star center Andrew Bynum delivered a dazzling defensive display in the Lakers' 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.

In San Antonio, Tony Parker scored 28 points and Tim Duncan added 17 to lead the Spurs over the Utah Jazz 106-91.

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.

"We're out here now trying to win games," he said. "If I'm aggressive defensively, I think we have the best chance to do it."

Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant scored 31 points and Spanish import Pau Gasol added 13 points, eight rebounds and eight assists.

But Lakers coach Mike Brown said he had no doubt it was Bynum who was the key: "He can control the game without shooting a shot. He was phenomenal."

The Spurs, who closed the regular season on a 10-game win streak, will host Utah on Wednesday in game two of the best-of-seven series.

Duncan grabbed a game-high 11 rebounds while Parker contributed a game-high eight assists for San Antonio, which had not won a playoff series opener in six tries over the past four years.