Marc Gasol tries to control the ball for the Grizzlies. (Andy Lyons / Getty Images )
The Clippers' first appearance in the NBA playoffs since 2006 couldn't have gotten off to a worse start for them. It couldn't have had a better finish.
They fell behind by 18 points in the first quarter and later trailed by as many as 27.
Then Nick Young and the Clippers changed identities. They had been ineffective inside and out for 3 1/2 quarters but went on dramatic run to put themselves in position to eventually win, 99-98, in Game 1 of their Western Conference first-round series.
The Clippers tied an NBA record by overcoming a 21-point deficit to start the fourth quarter. The Boston Celtics defeated the New Jersey Jets on May 25, 2002, by rallying from 21 down after three quarters.
Young made three quick three-point shots late in the quarter as the Clippers cut Memphis' lead to 96-93 with 1:47 to play. The Memphis fans, only minutes earlier who had enjoyed an 84-57 lead, were in shock.
Blake Griffin then made two free throws to make it a one-point game, and after another Memphis miss, the Clippers had a chance to take their first lead. They did when Chris Paul hit Reggie Evans for a layup and a 26-1 run.
PHOTOS: Clippers vs. Grizzlies, Game 1
Rudy Gay gave Memphis the lead again with a baseline jumper with 28 seconds to play. On the Clippers' next possession, Paul went to the line for two shots with 23.7 seconds left. He made both to give the Clippers a 99-98 lead.
Memphis Coach Lionel Hollins called timeout.
The Clippers had a foul to give, and committed it with 9.8 seconds left. Gay missed the shot at the buzzer, and the Clippers had completed one of the most remarkable comebacks in NBA history.
Memphis had been devastating from long range and the game appeared to be a laugher until the Clippers launched their improbable comeback.
Paul finished with 14 points and 11 assists. Young had 19 points and Griffin 17.
One drawback for the Clippers: Caron Butler broke a bone in his left hand, which could pose problems later in the playoffs.
First quarter: Clippers fall way behind
Halftime: Clippers trail Memphis, 58-39
Clippers forward Caron Butler fractures hand
Clippers' comeback stuns Grizzlies, 99-98