Eric Patten @ericpatten | 5/15/12

SAN ANTONIO - After two brilliant games to help close out the Grizzlies, Eric Bledsoe topped himself with a career night in Tuesday's series opener with the Spurs.

Bledsoe was dynamic on both ends of the floor and for the second consecutive game superstar teammate Blake Griffin referred to his jitterbug teammate as "unbelievable."

"When he's playing like that he's tough to stop as athletic as he is and as fast as he is," Griffin said. "When he's shooting like that and getting to the hole and setting up others, he's a great weapon for us."

Bledsoe went 10-for-16 from the field for 23 points, matching his career high. He led the Clippers in field goal makes and took advantage of a Spurs defense that dared to make him shoot from outside.

In the fourth quarter, with the Clippers trailing by 18 points, Bledsoe helped mount the comeback attempt, converting a tough layup, knocking down a 12-foot jumper, and stealing the ball from Tiago Splitter and turning it into Chris Paul assisted 3-pointer from Mo Williams.

"I just come in and try to help my team in the best way possible, whether it's scoring, playing defense, or whatever," Bledsoe said during his first-ever trip to the postseason podium. "Whatever I need to do to help them win at the end of the day is what I'm going to do."

On Tuesday he did all of the above. He had four assists, three steals, a chase-down block, and five rebounds. Four of his boards came on the offensive end, almost automatically turning into baskets. He tipped in a miss by Paul and followed a missed layup on the break with another follow up play at the rim.

In his last three games, Bledsoe is averaging 15.0 points, 4.3 assists, 3.6 rebounds, and 1.7 steals in just under 22 minutes. According to Clippers head coach Vinny Del Negro, Bledsoe's play of late could just be the beginning.

"Well Eric has done a fantastic job the last series and tonight," Del Negro said. "He did a great job at pushing the tempo and getting to the rim and making plays, tip-ins, offensive rebounds. Eric is so athletic. This is his first playoff experience, but he's a tough kid and a competitor. He's only going to get better."


If the Clippers are going to upset the Spurs, it will be in part because they used their athletic front court to outrun Tim Duncan and Boris Diaw for easy baskets.

On Tuesday, center DeAndre Jordan showed a glimmer of those possibilities.

Jordan, who struggled throughout the Memphis series with depleted numbers and playing time across the board, looked reinvigorated in the early going Tuesday. He was active against Duncan, contesting and using his body to defend in the post, something that was paramount against the hulking frontline of the Grizzlies. He also deflected a couple of passes and pulled down eight of his nine rebounds in the first quarter, including two offensively.

Perhaps more importantly, Jordan was involved on the offensive end. He scooped the ball away from Manu Ginobili for a breakaway double-pump dunk, caught an alley-oop from Blake Griffin, and fought through a blocked shot by Duncan to throw one down on the Clippers' first offensive possession.

It was a welcome sight for point guard Chris Paul, who described Jordan's effort as "superb." And after the game, Jordan sounded far from discouraged with where the team stood overall, despite losing Game 1.

"[There were positives] as long as we stay aggressive and come out like we did tonight, firing," Jordan said. "Using our athleticism, our youth to get us some great shots and we also got a lot of stops tonight, a lot hands on balls, a lot of deflections, which helped us get out in transition."


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