The Clippers tied the NBA playoff record for largest deficit overcome at the end of three quarters, when they trailed by 21.
Rudy Gay missed a 15-footer with 0.9 seconds left after the Grizzlies squandered a lead they held for the first 47 minutes.
The Clippers lost Caron Butler to a broken left hand. But Nick Young scored 19 points off the bench, including three 3-pointers in the midst of the Clippers' 26-1 run. Paul finished with 14 points while playing a team-high 38 minutes despite a groin injury that kept him out of the regular season finale against the Knicks. Blake Griffin had 17 and Butler 12 before leaving the game.
Gay finished with 19 for Memphis. Mike Conley and O.J. Mayo had 17, and Marc Gasol scored 14.
Game 2 is Wednesday night.
LAKERS 103, NUGGETS 88
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Kobe Bryant scored 31 points, Andrew Bynum posted the Lakers' first playoff triple-double in 21 years with an NBA post-season record-tying 10 blocked shots, and Los Angeles thoroughly controlled the tempo in a playoff-opening victory over Denver.
Bynum, the Lakers' All-Star centre coming off his best regular season, also had 10 points and 13 rebounds while incredibly blocking 11 per cent of the Nuggets' 90 shots.
Bynum had the Lakers' first playoff triple-double since Magic Johnson in the 1991 NBA finals. Fellow 7-footer Pau Gasol added 13 points, eight rebounds and eight assists as the playoff-tested Lakers never trailed.
Danilo Gallinari scored 19 points for the sixth-seeded Nuggets, but the NBA's second-youngest playoff roster struggled to run.
Game 2 is Tuesday night.
HAWKS 83, CELTICS 74
ATLANTA (AP) — Josh Smith scored 22 points and grabbed 18 rebounds, leading Atlanta over Boston in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference playoffs, the final minute turning ugly when Celtics star Rajon Rondo was ejected for bumping an official.
The Hawks, who led by as many as 19 in the first half, were clinging to a four-point lead when Rondo lost his cool with 41 seconds remaining — and may have cost himself a chance to play Game 2 Tuesday night.
Brandon Bass was called for a foul on Smith tussling for a loose ball. Rondo screamed at official Marc Davis, who quickly called a technical. Rondo then bumped Davis with his chest and was tossed out. A suspension could be coming, too.
Rondo scored 20 points and dished out 11 assists, but none of it mattered when he lost his cool. Kevin Garnett bounced back from a miserable start to put up 20 points and 11 rebounds. Smith carried the Hawks on a night when Joe Johnson managed just 11 points on 3-of-15 shooting.
SPURS 106, JAZZ 91
SAN ANTONIO (AP) — Tony Parker scored 28 points and San Antonio beat Utah to win its playoff opener for the first time in four years.
Tim Duncan added 17 points and 11 rebounds, helping the Spurs dodge another early playoff letdown. Despite boasting the No. 1 seed again, San Antonio hadn't won a Game 1 in its last six post-season series — including the one that began a shocking first-round ouster last year.
Paul Millsap led Utah with 20 points. The Jazz hung close until the third, when the NBA's top 3-point shooting team began burying Utah with three in a two-minute burst to finish the quarter.
The Spurs have won 11 in a row.
Game 2 is Wednesday in San Antonio.