Clippers come through with almost unbelievable comeback victory over Oklahoma City

first_imgNow, instead of being down 3-1 in the Western Conference semifinals series, the Clippers will head to Oklahoma City tied 2-2. Game 5 is Tuesday at Chesapeake Energy Arena.That’s how big this comeback was.“This is one of the best ones yet,” said Paul, who had that look on his face late, like he wasn’t going to let his team lose. “Even in the fourth quarter, we could have relaxed, you know, gave in at any point. I think we just willed this one.”Blake Griffin led the Clippers with 25 points and nine rebounds. Paul had 23 points with 10 assists, and Jamal Crawford and Darren Collison scored 18 apiece off the bench. Crawford and Collison were Mr. Clutch and Mr. Money down the stretch — something courtside fan Floyd “Money” Mayweather might have appreciated.After Griffin tied the game 94-94 on a basket and free throw with 1:50 to play, Kevin Durant gave the Thunder a 95-94 lead by making one of two free throws. Crawford then came down and buried a mean 3-pointer for a 97-95 Clippers lead with 1:23 to play. Russell Westbrook responded and tied it with a layup. Collison gave the Clippers a 99-97 lead with a quick layup. Then Griffin rebounded a miss and the ball fed to Crawford, who threw it downcourt to Collison, who made another layup on a drive to the basket for a 101-97 Los Angeles advantage.Westbrook came back with a basket to pull the Thunder within two points, but he missed from 3-point range and then a follow by Serge Ibaka did not fall at the buzzer, and the celebration on the court and in the stands began.“We really locked in on defense,” Crawford said. “We were down 22 at one point, and we kept believing and never gave up. We refused to lose. It was a big-time win. I’m not sure that win happens on the road. The crowd was terrific, and they played a huge part.”Crawford said his 3-pointer at crunch-time was among the biggest shots he’s made during his 14-year career.“I’ll have to go back and look,” he said. “But being at this level — I’ve had close to a game-winner before in the playoffs — so it’s right up there, for sure.”Crawford wasn’t sure why his team was so poor at the outset.“We just had to wake up. It seemed like we were asleep, for whatever reason,” he said.DeAndre Jordan, who had just seven points but 14 rebounds and two blocks, absorbed some of the blame.“We came out flat,” he said. “I put that a lot on myself, just to have the guys ready. It was an early game so we had to bring the energy ourselves. It’s with the starters. We have to come out more with a sense of urgency.”The Clippers shot just 41.9 percent, 14.3 percent (3 of 21) from 3-point range. However, they were shooting just 25 percent after the first quarter. OKC shot 44 percent.Durant led the Thunder with 40 points and Westbrook had 27 points and eight assists. Whereas OKC had received good games from them, as well as at least two others the past two games — both Thunder victories — it didn’t get that Sunday. Reggie Jackson (10 points) was the only other OKC player to score in double figures.What looked like an OKC victory but didn’t end up that way had to leave the Thunder with a sour taste in their mouths.“It’s a tough loss,” Westbrook said. “But it’s a series, man. It ain’t like we (lost the series). It’s 2-2. We’ll go back home and take care of business.”Still, the Thunder could have been up 3-1.“It’s a three-game series (now),” Durant said. “Of course we let this one slip away. We could have took control of the series.”The Clippers wouldn’t let them.“I want a beer,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said, as soon as he sat down in the postgame news conference. Rivers was then asked how important it is for his team to match OKC’s intensity at the outset of Game 5 Tuesday.“We better,” he said. “They’re at home. They’re seething right now. They had an opportunity to go up 3-1, and now it’s an even series. We were almost on the mat and we got off of it. We didn’t get pinned.”OKC coach Scott Brooks was bummed out, but remained positive.“That’s the ups and downs of the playoffs,” he said. “The way we look at it, we’re 2-2. Best-of-three series with two games at home.” Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Errorcenter_img Comeback victories are not foreign to the Clippers; they had several during the regular season. But when you rally from 22 points down in the first quarter and 16 down early in the fourth of a must-win playoff game, they don’t get much better than that.Chris Paul agreed after the Clippers defeated Oklahoma City 101-99 in a thriller before a Mother’s Day crowd of 19,365 at Staples Center.To put it into perspective, the Clippers were down 29-7 late in the first quarter. They looked dead, like they might lose by 50. Staples Center, which took a while to fill up — perhaps because it was Mother’s Day — was without energy.The Clippers started the fourth quarter losing by 12, and the deficit hit 16 (82-66) with 9:18 left to play. No way the Clippers should have come back. They had not played well, but that changed when the chips were down.last_img

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