Saturday, May 3, 2014
Rapid Reaction: Clippers 126, Warriors 121
By Arash Markazi
LOS ANGELES -- The longest week in Los Angeles Clippers history ended Saturday, but their season will go on.
Playing in their first-ever playoff Game 7 at home, the Clippers defeated the Golden State Warriors 126-121 to win their first-round playoff series and advance to the second round for only the third time since 1976.
Doc Rivers still hates to talk about the last time he was involved in a Game 7 at Staples Center.
It was the 2010 NBA Finals and his Boston Celtics blew a fourth-quarter lead to the Los Angeles Lakers that cost him a chance to win his second title in three years with the Celtics.
On Saturday, Rivers was back in Staples Center for a Game 7 and was happy to not look up at a reminder of his result from four years ago as the Lakers' championship banners have been covered by oversized photos of Clippers players for Clippers home games this season.
"Thank god, we don't have to see those banners tonight," Rivers said. "That's probably why I hung those other things so if we do have a Game 7, I'm not reminded."
Rivers will now have new Game 7 memories that will help push the past aside, such as Blake Griffin bull-rushing his way toward the basket and turning a somersault after an acrobatic layup and foul, DeAndre Jordan dunking another lob from Griffin and, well, the memory of himself pumping his fist and giving high-fives to everyone in sight after the longest week of his professional career.
Nothing can take the place of winning a championship, but after Saturday's win, the Clippers took the first big step toward doing just that.
How it happened: The Clippers looked sluggish early as the Warriors could not miss from the field. Golden State jumped out to a 10-point lead in the first quarter and pushed it to 12 in the second quarter. The Warriors shot 72 percent from the field in the first quarter and were close to 60 percent in the half. The Clippers, however, continued to stay in the game and finally made a push in the third quarter, going up by eight points thanks to 10 points from J.J. Redick in the period. But this game was destined to go down to the end as the Clippers and Warriors exchanged baskets and the lead before the Clippers finally pulled away in the end.
What it means: The Clippers have won the series. They advance to the second round for only the third time in team history.
Hits: On a night when they needed it most, the Clippers got one of their more balanced scoring games of the season. Six players, including all five starters, scored at least 13 points. Griffin had 24 points, 6 assists and 5 rebounds, and Jamal Crawford came off the bench and scored 22 points. Chris Paul had 22 points and 14 assists, and Jordan had 15 points and 18 rebounds. Redick had 20 points, including two late free throws that helped seal the win.
Misses: No real misses, but the Clippers were hoping to get more from Danny Granger and Glen Davis in the postseason, and on Saturday they combined to go 1-of-5 for only two points.
Stat of the game: The Clippers had 62 points in the paint compared to 38 for the Warriors.
Up next: The Clippers will take on the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game 1 of their second-round series, which begins Monday night in Oklahoma City.