Leaving Washington in a three-team deal that put Nene in a Wizards uniform meant that they are now playing with a purpose. It also gave them the chance to make cameo appearances on South Park (Yes, after providing several moments of comic relief with the Wizards, the duo was immortalized last week on the Comedy Central cartoon).
Young and McGee both came off the bench as their respective playoff series got underway on Sunday – and they had vastly contrasting experiences.
Young had a memorable performance, as he provided a three-point barrage that helped the Los Angeles Clippers pull off the greatest playoff comeback in NBA history in an improbable road win over Memphis. McGee had a forgettable outing, missing all six of his field goal attempts as the Denver Nuggets succumbed to the Los Angeles Lakers and Andrew Bynum’s block party.
Young contributed 19 points, on 6 of 9 shooting, in a 99-98 victory and the Clippers outscored the Grizzlies by 28 points when he was on the floor. McGee had two points with six rebounds and the Nuggets were outscored by 10 points when he was floor during a 103-88 loss.
The postseason has a different level of intensity and requires much more focus, something Young had a chance to witness during his rookie season with the Wizards. Young had a front-row seat in 2008 for a series with Cleveland that was so physical and so passionate that the flagrant fouls and elbows were drowned out when Jay-Z decided to make a song to inspire his main man, LeBron James.
Young was lucky to get some action during garbage time of the Wizards’ six-game first-round exit against the Cavaliers. Young appeared in four games four years ago, missed eight of nine shots and had no idea he would have to lose 210 games over the next 3 ½ seasons in Washington before getting the opportunity to return. He shot the ball against Memphis as if he had been waiting for the moment.
The Grizzlies led by 27 points with two minutes left in the third quarter and were up 95-71 when reserve guard O.J. Mayo drilled a three-pointer with 9:12 remaining.
Gilbert Arenas, who scored four points in 10 minutes for Memphis, was so excited that he started waiving his shirt like a helicopter and nearly hit teammate Marc Gasol in the face. That’s when the collapse began.
Over the final eight minutes, the Clippers outscored Memphis, 28-3 and Young played a major role during the rally. He took advantage of the Grizzlies’ apathetic defense to drain three three-pointers on three consecutive possessions in 60 seconds and chop down a 12-point deficit to three.
He used a back screen from Blake Griffin, caught a pass from Chris Paul to drain a three from the left corner. After Mayo missed a jumper, he sprinted down the court and ran directly to the right corner to knock down another three, howling as he ran down the floor. Mike Conley missed a driving layup, and before Evans grabbed the rebound, Young was off to the races, heading straight to the right corner again for another three that brought the Clippers within 96-93 with 1:47 left.
“I felt like I couldn’t miss,” Young told the Los Angeles Times. “That moment, prime time, being a part of the victory — and this is national: Everybody in the world saw it.”
McGee made his playoff debut on ABC’s Sunday telecast and he likely wants to look forward to Game 2. He appeared nervous, rushed and uncomfortable. But he wasn’t alone, since most of his teammates appeared ill-prepared for Bynum to dominate them on the defensive end, as he blocked 10 shots and delivered the rare Kanye – a triple-double with no assists.
Young might have an opportunity to play more after fellow former Wizard Caron Butler continues to experience misfortune. Butler broke his left hand getting it caught in Rudy Gay’s jersey and will miss four to six weeks. Butler missed the Dallas Mavericks’ championship run last season with a knee injury and was forced to sit out the 2007 playoffs with the Wizards after breaking his right hand trying to block a shot.