Los Angeles Clippers: J.J. Redick
The decision raised some eyebrows because the Clippers already have shooting guards J.J. Redick, Jamal Crawford and Reggie Bullock under contract and needed help at other positions, particularly in the frontcourt.
According to head coach and president of basketball operations Doc Rivers, the team wasn’t concerned with finding a player that fit positionally, and they instead focused on finding the best player available.
“C.J. is a great shooter and I value shooting,” Rivers said. “You know, when you're at [No.] 28, I don't think you can afford to pick [for] what needs you have. I have never thought that.
“We have Jamal and J.J., but [Wilcox is] the best player, and I think you can always make it work when you can get the best player. I thought as far as for shooting, in this league, you need it, you can never have enough of it, and I'm a big believer in it. I thought he may have been the best shooter in the draft, if not No. 1, No. 2.”
It’s not difficult to see Rivers’ rationale. Wilcox averaged 18.5 points per game and posted a 60 percent true shooting number last season. He’s certainly one of the best marksmen in the draft, shooting 39.1 percent on 7.2 3-point attempts per game. Already an elite spot-up shooter (he shot 43 percent on spot-up jumpers last season), he has the ability to pop out or curl off screens into open space and also pull up out of pick-and-rolls. He elevates nicely on his jumper and has a quick release and deep range.
For a team that ranked just 22nd in 3-point shooting percentage, Wilcox is a smart and useful addition. He is somewhat of a one-trick pony offensively, though he does his one trick exceptionally well. He isn’t much of a slasher -- 72.1 percent of his shots were jumpers last season, and 52.9 percent of his shots were 3-pointers -- as evidenced by his 4.1 free-throw attempts per 40 minutes, a below-average mark for a scorer of his stature.
Wilcox improved as a ball handler over the course of his NCAA career, and though he can’t create his own shot reliably or facilitate much, he takes advantage of unsuspecting defenders and lazy closeouts to penetrate into the paint. His 37.5-inch vertical gives him sneaky explosion, providing him with an edge when finishing at the rim in transition and half-court settings.
Though only 6-foot-5, he has a 6-foot-10 wingspan, implying he can defend small forwards at first glance. However, his thin frame holds him back. He’s easily overpowered when bigger wings drive or post up, and he can’t hold his own on the glass. Unless he bulks up another 10-15 pounds, Wilcox will probably only be able to defend 2-guards. He can feel asleep and lose his man occasionally, but on balance, he’s a solid defender who uses his length properly (he averaged 1.0 block and 1.0 steal).
In a conference call with reporters at the Clippers' training facility Thursday night, Wilcox compared his game to Danny Green, Ray Allen and Richard Hamilton. Green is the most realistic comparison, as he’s a 3-and-D specialist. Rivers was hesitant to praise Wilcox’s defense prematurely, as he said there’s a steep learning curve for all rookies defensively, but he sees his value as a two-way player.
“He’s long, he’s athletic, and it’s rare when you get a shooter like that, not only he’s a catch-and-shoot guy, too, that wants to defend. That’s a great combination,” Rivers said. “Like most of the time you get a shooter but [he] can’t defend or a shooter but [he’s] not athletic. We have a great shooter who can defend and is athletic, so I thought that was important.”
In many ways, Wilcox is a carbon copy of Bullock, who was selected with the No. 25 pick in last season’s draft.
Both projected as spot-up shooters with limited ball-handling and shot-creation skills. Neither was a stout defender in college, but both were average to slightly above-average because of their relative length. The issue, when comparing the two, is that Wilcox isn’t as good of a shooter as Bullock in college, is smaller in both height and weight, and is older by a few months.
Age is the main concern with Wilcox. He’s 23 and will turn 24 in December. Optimists will say he is more experienced and ready to contribute right away. Pessimists, however, will point to the fact that prospects that old rarely see significant improvement and that his ceiling isn’t much higher than his current ability. Wilcox disagrees.
“I come in with a different approach and a different understanding of how things work sometimes -- not always getting what you want,” Wilcox said. “I had to work from the bottom to the top. That's kind of always how I've been. Even though I'm 23, I feel like my game can expand in so many ways.”
But they weren't satisfied with just tying the series. The message from the coaching staff was simple: Steal another one in Oklahoma and put yourselves in a position to close out the series back home.
It looked as the Clippers were about to do exactly that for much of Tuesday's Game 5 ... before the Oklahoma City Thunder repaid the Clippers with a comeback that was just as improbable in a 105-104 win.
With the Clippers leading 104-97 with 44 seconds left, the Thunder closed with an 8-0 run, including three free throws by Russell Westbrook to clinch the win and take a 3-2 series lead.
How it happened: After sleepwalking through the first quarter of Sunday's game, falling behind by 22 points nine minutes in, the Clippers took a 15-point lead in the first quarter Tuesday and controlled the tempo and pace for most of the game, despite having multiple players in early foul trouble. The Clippers never trailed in the second half until the final seconds, when Westbrook's free throw put the Thunder ahead for good.
What it means: The Thunder have taken a 3-2 series lead and can clinch the series with a win Thursday in Los Angeles.
Hits: Blake Griffin had his first double-double of this season's playoffs, finishing with 24 points and 17 rebounds. Chris Paul had 17 points and 14 assists, Matt Barnes posted 16 points and 10 rebounds, Jamal Crawford tallied 19 points off the bench and J.J. Redick scored 16.
Misses: After being the star of Game 4 with 12 points in the fourth quarter, Darren Collison had only one point in 10 minutes Tuesday and was a team-worst minus-15 while on the court. Meanwhile, Paul had a game-high five turnovers.
Stat of the game: The Thunder outscored the Clippers on points in the paint (44-22) and had the Clippers' big men in foul trouble for most of the game.
Up next: The Clippers will play host to the Thunder in Game 6 at 7:30 PT Thursday night at Staples Center, as L.A. looks to stay alive in the series.
They will wake up with no more games to play and no escape from the fact that they play for a team with an unclear owner and an uncertain future.
On Sunday, while the Clippers were playing the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game 4 of their Western Conference semifinal series, Donald Sterling was telling Anderson Cooper on CNN that he is sorry for his comments and isn’t a racist. Shelly Sterling was telling Barbara Walters on ABC that she plans to divorce Donald and fight to keep the Clippers. And Dick Parsons, the former chairman of Time Warner and Citigroup, was flying to Los Angeles to assume his new job as the league-appointed interim CEO of the Clippers.
The Clippers’ season appeared on the brink of collapse when coach Doc Rivers called a timeout early in the fourth quarter and asked his players to look at each other and trust in each other. This game, this series and their season were not over.
"We all sat down and you looked at everybody’s face and nobody wanted to go home," Glen Davis said. "Everybody was saying, 'Hey, we’re going to win this game.'"
“You mean in the four times,” Rivers said. “Any of those stats don’t matter. If you said the Lakers or the Celtics, then that would matter. With us, at least those historical playoffs things, [it doesn’t resonate] here.”
It’s no secret the Clippers don’t have much of a playoff history. Even if they were to win Sunday’s Game 4 against the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Clippers have lost five of six best-of-seven series when tied 2-2. And they have never advanced past the second round.
Doc Rivers cares less about the Clippers' meager playoff history and more about the tough lessons his players are learning in their series against the more-grizzled Thunder.
Yes, the Clippers have made great strides. But they still have yet to win more than one game in the second round.
There is only one player on their roster -- Glen Davis -- who has won a title, and he’s a reserve. Only one starter -- J.J. Redick -- has played in the NBA Finals.
At some point, the Clippers believe, they can get to the conference finals and the Finals and win a title. But their lack of experience in these moments is often exposed while going up against an Oklahoma City team that has enjoyed repeated success over the past five seasons, including a trip to the Finals.
“That’s the one advantage Oklahoma has had on us,” Rivers said. “They have several guys that have been all the way to the Finals, and they get it. They get the urgency of every single possession. We’ve been in and out of that throughout the playoffs. For us to keep going, we have to get that every-possession urgency.
“Offensively we scored 112 points [Friday], but we took off 15 possessions where we were running it but we weren’t running it crisply. We didn’t get to the right spots; we took shortcuts. Those are the things you just can’t do, and I think our guys are quickly understanding that. That point alone was beaten into us.”
It’s all part of the process and growth Rivers has talked about with the Clippers since arriving last summer. As much as he wanted to win a title in his first season, he also wanted the Clippers to take strides in learning how to become championship contenders.
When Rivers heard Paul call Game 4 a “must-win” game, he said that’s how Paul and the Clippers should approach every game and every possession in the postseason.
“I think Games 1, 2 and 3 were must wins,” Rivers said. “I honestly think that’s the urgency you have to play with in the playoffs, and I think we’ve been in and out of that. That’s, right now, the lessons we’re learning. You can still keep getting better through the playoffs. That’s why you don’t panic. You keep getting better and you keep pushing. There’s growth with every team.
“Miami will grow during the playoffs. You grow during the playoffs. You learn. You get beat and you learn, and you get better or you go home; it’s one of those two things. That’s part of the process. You have to be willing to take it, understand it, process it and move on.”
Despite being down 2-1 in their series against Oklahoma City, the Clippers weren’t too concerned after practice on Saturday. L.A. was down 1-0 to the Golden State Warriors and won its first-round series.
The Clippers also showed they could win on the road -- twice, including a Game 7 -- two years ago against the Memphis Grizzlies.
The Clippers still feel good about their chances versus OKC, but those hopes largely rely on tying the series up on Sunday here at home.
“We put ourselves in a hole, but we just have to correct some of our mistakes,” Blake Griffin said. “We came back from this situation down 1-0. It has turned, but it’s not like we’re down 3-0. We’re down 2-1 and we got another game at home.
“We need to correct our mistakes, but it’s nothing to hang our heads about or be down about. We have a chance to even it up Sunday.”
LOS ANGELES -- After two lopsided games for both teams to start the series, the Los Angeles Clippers and Oklahoma City Thunder were due for a close game that would finally live up to the hype preceding this series.
That’s exactly what happened Friday, as the Thunder took a 2-1 series lead with a 118-112 win over the Clippers.
In a game that saw 13 ties and 19 lead changes, the Thunder were able to pull away late and take control of the game and the series, thanks to Kevin Durant’s 36 points and Russell Westbrook’s near triple-double of 23 points, 13 assists and eight rebounds.
How it happened: It was a seesaw game for most of the night with exchanging leads as the stars played like it for most of the evening. While Durant and Westbrook will get the headlines, the Thunder are at their best when their role players have big nights; and they did Friday. Serge Ibaka scored 20 points, Reggie Jackson posted 14 points and former Clipper Caron Butler also had 14.
What it means: The Thunder have taken a 2-1 series lead and can take a commanding 3-1 lead Sunday before the series returns back to Oklahoma City.
Hits: Chris Paul had 21 points and 16 assists and was far more aggressive than he was in Game 2 -- but still not what he was in the Game 1. Blake Griffin had his best game of the series, finishing with 34 points, eight rebounds and four assists. Matt Barnes had 14 points, and Jamal Crawford, fresh off his Sixth Man of the Year award, had 20 points.
Misses: After playing well in the first two games of the series, J.J. Redick was a nonfactor in Game 3, finishing with three points after missing his first five shots and going 1-for-6 from the field. Glen Davis also was a liability when he was on the court, finishing with two points and with plus/minus of minus-12.
Stat of the game: The Thunder had the advantage in points in the paint (52-48), rebounding (44-33) and fast-break points (19-14). Throughout most of the game, Oklahoma City held the advantage when it came to hustle plays and 50-50 balls.
Up next: The Clippers will take on the Thunder in Game 4 of their second-round series at 12:30 p.m. PT on Sunday in Los Angeles.
OKLAHOMA CITY -- The Los Angeles Clippers came into Oklahoma City looking to steal one game and home-court advantage. After doing that Monday night, the Clippers were looking for something more on Wednesday night that would never materialize.
The Oklahoma City Thunder avoided dropping their first two home games to the Clippers and tied up their second-round playoff series at 1-1 after claiming a 112-101 victory.
Kevin Durant, who was presented with the MVP trophy before the game by NBA commissioner Adam Silver, scored 17 points in the first quarter as the Thunder took an 11-point lead. Although the Clippers would come back, the Thunder controlled the game for the most part, going up by as many as 20 points, and Durant finished with 32 points. Russell Westbrook had 31 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists for his third triple-double in his past five playoff games.
How it happened: The Thunder came out firing after Durant was given the MVP trophy and a standing ovation by the sellout crowd at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Durant's big quarter had the Thunder up by 11 points early. The Clippers stormed back to take a four-point lead, but the Thunder came right back and were up by as many as 20 points in the third quarter and never trailed again.
What it means: The Clippers and Thunder are now tied 1-1 after two games in their second-round series, with the next two games taking place in Los Angeles on Friday and Sunday.
Hits: Chris Paul had 17 points and 11 assists but wasn't as aggressive as he was in Game 1, when he had 32 points and eight 3-pointers. Paul shot only 6-of-13 from the field and 2-of-5 from beyond the arc. J.J. Redick was solid, scoring a team-high 18 points and hitting 7 of 10 shots from the field and 2 of 4 on 3-pointers. Matt Barnes had 11 points, and Darren Collison and Glen Davis combined for 23 points off the bench.
Misses: Blake Griffin finished third in MVP voting this season and will need to play like the third-best player in the league for the Clippers to have chance in this series. On Wednesday, he was nonexistent early and finished with 15 points on 5-of-13 shooting to go along with six rebounds and two turnovers. Jamal Crawford also didn't play up to his sixth-man-of-the-year status, finishing with seven points on 2-of-13 shooting and hitting only 1 of 7 from beyond the arc.
Stat of the game: After going 4-for-6 from beyond the arc in the first quarter, the Clippers went 5-for-21 over the final three quarters from long range.
Up next: The Clippers will take on the Thunder in Game 3 on Friday night at Staples Center.
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.
OAKLAND, Calif. -- Over the past six days, the Los Angeles Clippers have leaned on each other to get through one of the most chaotic, grueling and draining weeks they had ever experienced.
With an opportunity to close out the week and the Golden State Warriors early, they went in their own directions Thursday at Oracle Arena.
After finally finding their way together off the court, they lost it on the court during their 100-99 loss to the Warriors, who forced a decisive Game 7 back in Los Angeles on Saturday night.
Blake Griffin got in foul trouble Thursday and exited early. When he's not in with Chris Paul, the Clippers seem to lose their rhythm and confidence in one another.
Sometimes the Clippers have that trust, and sometimes they don’t.
On Thursday, as Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and J.J. Redick battled through injuries and foul trouble -- with the latter two fouling out in the fourth quarter -- the Clippers decided to go in their own separate directions in search of a victory.
“We've just got to trust each other,” Rivers said after the game. “I thought the third quarter, we stopped trusting. We were basically an iso basketball team. No fun to watch, and we're not very good at it.”
One of the biggest reasons Rivers was pried away from the Boston Celtics last summer and brought to Los Angeles was to lead the Clippers through moments like this. Not only does he have a championship ring to his name, during that 2008 title run with the Celtics his team was pushed to Game 7 in the first two rounds.
During his time in Boston, Rivers coached in seven Game 7s and sported a 4-3 record.
“Well, I've lost some and I've won some,” Rivers said. “So the experience is you have to come to play. I've won some on the road, I've lost some at home, and you've got to go play. You've just got to go out there and play the game and be aggressive and try to take the game.
“When you're at home, you can't rely on home. That doesn't work. It's going to be great to be at home. We'll be back in our safe haven now, and the fans will give us great energy, but you've still got to perform -- and that is the bottom line.”
The only player on the Clippers roster with a championship ring is Glen Davis, who was with Rivers when the Celtics won in 2008 and when they lost Game 7 of the NBA Finals in 2010.
Davis thought his 2008 team learned how to play in the playoffs as they were pushed to the brink of elimination. After Thursday, he isn’t quite sure if the Clippers are learning the same lesson.
“We knew playing in a Game 7 we’d have home court advantage, but, at the same time, we had to go out there and make it happen,” Davis told ESPNLosAngeles.com. “The more and more that series went on, we realized that every possession counts. Every possession and every moment on the court counts. I think we, as a team ... I don’t think we understand that right now.”
Rivers has constantly talked about “emotional hijacks” with the Clippers and their tendency to get too high and too low during the normal ebb and flow of a game.
“When things go up, we have to keep our composure and make sure we stay levelheaded and do what we know how to do and play Clippers basketball,” Davis said. “I think we get away from that. I think too much we try individually to get it done. Everybody wants to win, but they don’t understand we have to win it together.
“And that’s giving yourself up for the next person. I think we saw today that’s how we need to play in order to win.”
It was an odd game that resembled the first game of the series in many ways, as Paul and Griffin were in foul trouble early, with Griffin fouling out late in the fourth quarter. When Paul and Griffin aren’t able to penetrate and create plays for their teammates, the offense, as well as the trust, crumbles.
“I think just ball movement and trusting our offense,” Griffin said when asked what the Clippers need to do to be successful in Game 7. “I think, honestly, it starts defensively for us. When we get stops, we kind of get into a better flow and a better rhythm. It's not just coming down and a matter of calling a play and doing what we do; it's a lot of things.”
As much as the Clippers want to consistently trust each other and the system, that level of trust doesn’t come easily or quickly. It comes over time -- and in moments like they will experience during Game 7 on Saturday.
“Experience is one of the main factors of understanding consistency,” Davis said. “Situations like this can build character, and hopefully we can get it now without having to sit out and wait for next year.”
OAKLAND, Calif. -- The smiles had returned to the faces of the Los Angeles Clippers' players by the time they took the court at the Olympic Club in San Francisco on Thursday morning before playing Game 6 of their first-round series against the Golden State Warriors.
All the talk of the past week regarding racist comments made by Clippers owner Donald Sterling and his subsequent lifetime ban from the NBA had been washed away and replaced by the jokes and the usual teasing that had come to define the team this season.
“They're in a better spirit, there's no doubt,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. “They're actually joking again. They're making jokes about their coach again. I think that's good.”
The focus for the first time since Friday was again on basketball, which was a good thing for the players on the court, even if the action on the court didn’t always look playoff-worthy.
The good feelings the Clippers had pregame, however, were long gone by the end of the game, as Blake Griffin and J.J. Redick fouled out as the Clippers lost to the Warriors 100-99 to force a Game 7.
How it happened: The Clippers jumped out quickly to a nine-point lead, but it was erased in the next stanza by the Warriors, who took an eight-point lead by the second quarter. It was a back-and-forth game through three quarters that saw eight ties and five lead changes before the Warriors took control in the fourth. The Warriors never trailed in the final period but had to escape in the end as the Clippers made a late push.
What it means: This series, like many expected before it began, will go seven games, with the decisive Game 7 taking place on Saturday in Los Angeles.
Hits: On a night when Griffin, Chris Paul and DeAndre Jordan struggled offensively, the Clippers were kept in the game largely by Matt Barnes and Redick, who combined for 33 points. The "Big Three" of Griffin, Paul and Jordan, meanwhile, posted 36 points between them. Jamal Crawford and Darren Collison had 31 combined points off the bench. Though Jordan struggled on offense, he did have 19 rebounds and four blocks.
Misses: Paul was battling injuries to his left hamstring and hand while in foul trouble (five). Griffin was in trouble early and fouled out for the second time this series. When those two players struggle, the Clippers always will have a hard time pulling out a win, especially in a close-out game on the road.
Stat of the game: For the second time this series, the referees controlled the flow, as 52 fouls were called and 70 foul shots were taken. That’s never a good recipe for pretty basketball.
Up next: The Clippers will take on the Warriors in Game 7 of their first-round series at 7:30 p.m. PT Saturday at Staples Center.
But after Clippers owner Donald Sterling was banned for life by the NBA in response to racist comments the league says he made in a recorded conversation, Rivers' fears about the crowd reaction and, more important, the future of the team were calmed.
"I do believe this will be a safe haven for us and our crowd will be amazing tonight. I think that will help them," Rivers said before the game. "The 14 guys that we dress, they did nothing wrong and they need support and I think that will happen."
Clippers fans not only came out to support the team, Staples Center was sold out as fans came to the game wearing black shirts and chanting, "We are one!" throughout the night.
While very little advance focus was paid to the game, the Clippers finally had something to celebrate after a tumultuous 72 hours. The Clippers beat the Warriors 113-103 to take a 3-2 series lead. They can close out the series on Thursday in Oakland.
How it happened: The Clippers fed off the energy of their faithful early in the game, going up by 11 points in the first quarter and 13 points in the second quarter and controlling the tempo. All this despite Chris Paul and Blake Griffin combining for only 13 points on 3-of-16 shooting in the first half. The Warriors came back in the third quarter and took the lead before the Clippers finally pulled away in the fourth quarter for the win.
What it means: The Clippers have the Warriors on the brink. If they don’t eliminate Golden State on Thursday, Game 7 would be Saturday night in Los Angeles.
Hits: On a night when Griffin and Paul struggled to get going, DeAndre Jordan was the unlikely offensive force, scoring a postseason career high of 25 points, grabbing 18 rebounds and getting four blocked shots. Paul finished the game with 20 points and seven assists, and Griffin had 18 points and seven rebounds. Jamal Crawford and Darren Collison combined for 34 points off the bench.
Misses: No big concerns on the night, but J.J. Redick was 0-for-3 from beyond the arc and finished with only six points on 3-of-8 shooting. The Clippers also lost Hedo Turkoglu for the game and maybe the series because of a lower back contusion in the third quarter.
Stat of the game: 19,657. After much talk about the attendance for the game, the Clippers recorded their 138th consecutive sellout ... and it was as loud as it has ever been at Staples Center.
Up next: The Clippers will take on the Warriors in Game 6 of their first-round series on Thursday at Oracle Arena.
Matt Barnes, who played for the Warriors, said he would talk to his teammates about the atmosphere and Rivers almost rolled his eyes when he was asked if Barnes did in fact address the team before the game.
"I have no idea," Rivers said. "I don't believe in all that crap anyway. It's just talk. It doesn't matter. You can tell me something, but you have to experience [it]. It's all white noise, and you go out and play."
The Los Angeles Clippers did just that in a sea of yellow at Oracle Arena, beating the Warriors 98-96 to take a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series. It was the Clippers' first win in Oakland since 2011 after losing their previous five games in Oracle.
How it happened: After a back-and-forth first quarter in which both teams led by five points, the Clippers gained control in the second quarter and led by as many as nine points. The Clippers pushed their lead up to 18 points in the third quarter but surrendered a 10-0 run to the Warriors before the end of the period and it was a game again in the fourth. The Warriors got to within one point in the fourth quarter but could never get the lead again as the Clippers held on for the win.
What it means: The Clippers reclaimed home-court advantage and have a 2-1 series lead. If the Clippers can win Sunday, they’d be in position to close out the series back in Los Angeles in Game 5.
Hits: Blake Griffin scored 32 points and had eight rebounds and was once again the focal point of the offense. DeAndre Jordan was a force on both ends of the floor, scoring 14 points and grabbing a Clippers playoff record 22 rebounds. Chris Paul had 15 points and 10 assists, and J.J. Redick had 14 points. Jamal Crawford had 13 points off the bench.
Misses: Barnes was 0-for-6 shooting and did not score. He also had a couple of bad fouls that helped ignite the Warriors' 10-0 run before the end of the third quarter. He did, however, return and finish the game after having a nasty jammed left big toe.
Stat of the game: The Warriors shot just 6-of-31 from the three-point line.
Up next: The Clippers will take on the Warriors in Game 4 of their first-round series on Sunday at Oracle Arena.
LOS ANGELES -- Time and again over the final month of the season, the Los Angeles Clippers found themselves down by double digits in the fourth quarter and time and again they found a way to come back and win.
Against the Golden State Warriors in the first game of their first-round series, however, the Clippers could not complete the comeback and ended up losing 109-105.
It was game dominated by the officials, who called 51 fouls, which led to 60 free throws. Blake Griffin and Andre Iguodala each played less than 20 minutes and both players fouled out.
How it happened: The Clippers jumped out to a 12-1 lead to start the game and looked as if they might run away with Game 1 before the Warriors came back and took control in the second half. The Warriors took an 11-point lead in the fourth quarter before the Clippers stormed back and took the lead but were not able to hold on. It was the first time this season the Clippers lost a game in which they led at home during the fourth quarter. They were 32-0 before Saturday.
What it means: The Clippers lost home-court advantage after playing for it all season. They must now win a game at Golden State to win this series, which is something they haven't done since Dec 25, 2011.
Hits: Chris Paul finished with 28 points and came up big in the fourth quarter, scoring 10 points in the final period. He did miss two free throws and had a key turnover at the end of the game, but the Clippers wouldn't have had a chance to win without his play in the fourth quarter. J.J. Redick had a career playoff effort, scoring 22 points and hitting 4-of-5 from beyond the arc. Griffin had 16 points in only 19 minutes.
Misses: The referees essentially took Griffin and Iguodala out of this game. Griffin played less than four minutes in the first half with three fouls and fouled out on a lose ball call with the score tied and 48.5 second left. Iguodala played less than 19 minutes in the game and had four fouls in the first half before fouling out.
Stat of the game: There were 51 combined fouls called. The referees clearly wanted both teams to know that their physicality was only going to go so far in the playoffs. "I think the hype may have had an impact on how this game was called," Clippers coach Doc Rivers said.
Up next: The Clippers will take on the Warriors in Game 2 of their first-round series on Tuesday at Staples Center.
PORTLAND, Ore. -- The Los Angeles Clippers made their intention for the final regular-season game known before they even boarded their flight to Portland.
They left Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and J.J. Redick back in Los Angeles. DeAndre Jordan would start in order to keep his current NBA-high streak of 240 straight games alive but be taken out less than two minutes into the game.
Despite being without four-fifths of their starting lineup, the Clippers nearly defeated the Portland Trail Blazers in the final game of the regular season. They came back from a 22-point deficit to take the lead in the fourth quarter before losing 110-104. The Clippers will now open the playoffs Saturday afternoon against the Golden State Warriors.
How it happened: The Clippers’ reserve unit looked like it would get run out of the building in Portland early. They fell behind by 14 points in the first quarter and 22 points by halftime before they began to mount a comeback in the third quarter behind Jamal Crawford’s hot hand. They went up by as many as six points in the fourth quarter before Portland eventually pulled away for the win.
What it means: It means the Clippers closed out the regular season with a franchise-record 57 wins and a franchise-high 3-seed in the Western Conference playoffs. They will open the postseason against Golden State on Saturday.
Hits: Crawford looked like the sixth man of the year in a starting role, finishing with 34 points, eight assists and five rebounds and nearly single-handedly willed the Clippers to a win in the second half. Matt Barnes added 19 points and eight rebounds, while Darren Collison had 19 points and seven assists.
Misses: None, except for the players missing on the Clippers' bench, as Paul, Griffin and Redick stayed back in L.A.
Stat of the game: Without Griffin and Jordan, the Clippers were destroyed for points in the paint, 54 to 28.
Up next: The Clippers open the playoffs at Staples Center against the Warriors on Saturday at 12:30 p.m. on ABC. The Clippers and Warriors split their four regular-season games with the Clippers winning the last meeting 111-98 last month in Los Angeles.
LOS ANGELES -- Doc Rivers said he thought about resting his players for the Los Angeles Clippers' final home regular-season game. That was before he talked to them.
The players let their coach know they were plenty rested and wanted to play, and that's exactly what they did Tuesday as they defeated the Denver Nuggets 117-105 to notch their franchise-record 57th win of the season.
The Clippers will close out the regular season Wednesday in Portland with a shot at the second-best record in the league, and the No. 2 seed in the West still a possibility.
"I just don't want to lose our rhythm," Rivers said. "When the playoffs start, it's a whole new season, but you do want to have some kind of rhythm going into it."
How it happened: The Clippers looked as if they were going to run away with the game early. They went up by 18 in the first quarter, 19 in the second quarter and led by as many as 23 points in the third quarter before falling asleep and giving the Nuggets some hope. The Nuggets cut the Clippers' lead to five points in the fourth quarter before L.A. finally pulled away for the win.
What it means: The Clippers have won a franchise-record 57 games and are still alive for the No. 2 seed in the West. If the Oklahoma City Thunder lose to the Detroit Pistons and the Clippers beat the Portland Trail Blazers, the Clippers will finish with the second-best record in the league and No. 2 seed in the West.
Hits: Blake Griffin had 24 points and five rebounds, and Chris Paul had 21 points and 10 assists. J.J. Redick looked like his old self again, scoring 24 points and hitting 9 of 17 from the field. DeAndre Jordan also had 13 points and 16 rebounds.
Misses: You never want a 23-point lead to dwindle to five in a matter of minutes when you're looking to rest your starters. In the bigger picture, the Clippers would love Jamal Crawford and Darren Collison to return to their old form. Both players combined to go 0-for-6 from beyond the arc and hit 8 of 19 from the field.
Stat of the game: The Clippers won the game despite being out outrebounded (43-41) by the Nuggets. L.A. did edge Denver in points in the paint (50-42) and second-chance points (20-9).
Up next: The Clippers play their regular-season finale on the road against the Portland Trail Blazers. The teams have split their two games this season, with each winning at home. The Clippers last played in Portland the day after Christmas, falling to the Blazers 116-112 in overtime.
Redick returned to the lineup nearly two weeks ago after recovering from a bulging disk in his lower back.
"I don't want him playing in a back-to-back," Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. "I don't think that's wise."
Rivers also said the Clippers hope to have Danny Granger back at practice Thursday or Friday with the hope he might be ready for Game 1 of their first-round playoff series. Granger has been out since March 27 because of strained left hamstring and was ruled out until the start of the playoffs soon after.
The Clippers have not had a completely healthy roster this season and if they make it through the final two games unscathed and get Granger back, their first time may be to start the postseason.
"I think we know who went want to play," Rivers said. "The problem will be how well they all play together because they haven't played together a lot. The playoffs are not the place you want to be trying to find out what's your best group."