Until the officials had to ruin all the fun, that is.
For the second time in three nights, the Los Angeles Clippers and Memphis Grizzlies transformed the Staples Center hardwood into the UFC Octagon.
It was a true playoff slugfest, as both teams flexed their muscle on basketball's biggest stage.
So naturally it came down to a battle between the two teams' shortest, smallest players on the court. Chris Paul and Mike Conley traded their floor general roles for a place on the front lines, trading haymakers for clutch baskets as the seconds ticked toward the end of regulation.
Conley split a pair of free throws to cut L.A.'s lead to five with just over four minutes remaining. Paul then sandwiched a pair of jumpers around a pair of Conley buckets to keep the lead at five with 2:35 left.
After Darrell Arthur ran off his own five-point run with a jumper and an and-one finish in transition, Paul dropped in a runner to give L.A. a narrow two-point edge at the 1:20 mark. After an errant Marc Gasol jumper, the Clippers had the chance to extend their lead but failed to recognize a dwindling shot clock after Paul had given them the possession off a jump ball.
Conley orchestrated the offense on what could have been the final trip of regulation, finding a streaking Gasol for an uncontested dunk to even the score at 91 with 13.9 seconds left on the clock.
Following a Clippers timeout, Paul received a pass from Jamal Crawford with less than eight seconds remaining.
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