Los Angeles, CA.— After the Los Angeles Clippers tied the series at one game a piece leaving Oakland, they returned home to Staples Center for Games 3 & 4 with momentum. The the two-time defending champion Golden State Warriors took care of business leaving LA with a 3-1 series lead.
They returned back to the Oracle arena on Wednesday night looking to close out LA and move on to the semifinals. Many believed the champs would prevail, and there would be a rematch of last year's Western Conference finals against the Houston Rockets who defeated the Utah Jazz (100-93) a few hours before solidifying their spot in the semis.
The potential rematch will be put on hold, as the Clippers went back to the Oracle and left with their second consecutive win defeating the Warriors 129-121.
Photo By: Ezra Shaw / Getty Images
They came out believing they had a chance to win from the start. They hung with the champs, weathering the ruckus crowd early. Then took it to them in the second quarter outscoring them by 12 (34-22) and hung 71 in the first half going into halftime with a 71-63 lead.
That lead quickly grew to 15 early in the third (81-66) and LA could see a finish line. As they tried to fight off a comeback from the Warriors, they found themselves down a basket 118-117 with 2:40 remaining on a 3-pointer by Warriors Kevin Durant. It was their first lead since 50-49 in the second quarter.
They would never lead again.
LA closed those final two minutes on a 12-3 run and LA found themselves heading back to Los Angeles for a Game 6 on Friday night.
Photo By: Jovan Buha
The three scorers head coach Doc Rivers has relied on all year came up big for LA. Danilo Gallinari, Lou Williams, and Montrezl Harrell combined for 83 of the teams 129 points.
"Our focus was to come in and extend the series and get another game on our home floor," Williams said. "It's their mistake for looking ahead. That's on them." He led LA with 33 points on 12-19 from the field. He hit the biggest shot of the game when the Warriors were able to take the lead with just over two minutes remaining (118-117) knocking down a 3-pt that put LA back ahead, and they never trailed again.
He was the catalyst in LA's Game 2 comeback at the Oracle.
He also got much needed help from Harrell who was 11-14 from the field for 24 points of his own. Gallinari who had unquestionably had started the first 4 games slow offensively, came out much more desperate and he poured in 26 points on 22 field goal attempts.
Patrick Beverley knocked down five 3-pt, but his impact wasn't just there, it was the game-high 14 rebounds. Head Coach Steve Kerr spoke about Beverley's impact directly after the game, "I thought Patrick Beverley came in, just kicked our butts right away," he said. "He came out with more energy than we had and that set a tone."
River's knew his players would not go without a fight despite being down 3-1 in the series.
"I don't want to get ahead of myself. They're up 3-2 still, but I just loved how we played, I really did," Rivers said. "All we talked about is being us. I told our guys, they've been them in the series. We have yet to put a game where we are us through the game."
They also completed on the boards after River's stresed after the two losses in LA about how important it was to secure the possession. They were a +3 in rebounding 42-39.
Photo By: Ezra Shaw/ Getty Images
After the loss, coach Kerr spoke about what he saw collectively from. "It's been a year where things haven't gone exactly smoothly all the time," Kerr said. "I'm not surprised by anything, but I expected to come out and play better and win the game. But it's the NBA playoffs. This is a seven-game series and you've got to play. You've got to defend with some urgency."
One player that showed up was Durant. He scored a game-high 45 points on 14-26 from the field.
"That's the worst-case scenario for any team. You're missing shots and can't get stops, you feel like you're in a bottomless pit," Durant said. "Hopefully we knock down shots and get stops next game."
Stephen Curry had 24 points making 4-5 from 3-pt, and Klay Thompson had 22 going 4-11 from deep.
They made 13 of the teams 15 3-pointers.
Draymond Green who is battling a wrist injury scored seven points. "It's still sore," Green said at shootaround. "If the MRI said it was broken by the way I was still going to play. So it really didn't matter."
Game 6: Friday 4/26.
Warriors lead series 3-2.