THE CLIPPERS GOING TO GAME 7 IN LOS ANGELES ON SATURDAY.
It was a mighty fierce battle in San Antonio tonight, but the Clippers showed incredible resolve down the stretch and earned themselves the right to play for their lives (again!).
The going was not easy for the Clippers, who were down double digits midway through the second quarter. Chris Paul struggled tremendously in the first half, going 0-7 from the floor and scoring just four points. Blake Griffin didn't fare well either, shooting only 3-8. Luckily, J.J. Redick and Deandre Jordan showed up big, combining for 29 points in the first half. They somehow managed to forge a tie with the Spurs, 51-51, going into halftime.
Now, of course you didn't expect the one they call "Point God" to go away so easily, did you?
Playoff history be damned, because CP3 went into his mode and made just about every shot he looked at in the second half. He expertly pulled off the trickery he uses so well to get himself open, hitting an array of good-lookin' midrange jumpers and a couple of wonky floaters. He even added a three-ball for good measure, and the Clippers sure needed it, since they went only 4-18 from distance tonight. Paul finished with 19 points and 15 assists in a staggering 44 minutes of play.
Blake Griffin carried on with his playoff tear, offering up 26 points, 12 rebounds and six assists for the Clippers. He showed incredible hustle and played some great defense down the stretch and got key rebounds. Somebody needs to think of a Point God-equivalent nickname for Griffin that doesn't suck, because he's earned it. Redick added a cool 19 points and DJ finished with 15 points and 14 rebounds. He also did okay--not great, but okay--in the face of Hack-A-Jordan, going 7-15 from the stripe.
Now, there's a little something to keep in mind looking forward to Game 7--the Clippers and Spurs have absolutely no regard for home court advantage. The Clippers were able to out-hustle the Spurs and hit big shots down the stretch tonight in order to secure the win, just as the Spurs have proven they can do in Staples Center. But if you want my two cents, it's a far better sign for the Clippers that they could show up they way they did down the stretch tonight in San Antonio than it was for the Spurs to upset the Clippers at home.
You see, the Spurs are the defending champions and a perennially masterful NBA team. While they surely have their weaknesses this season, mental toughness is not one of them. So, of course they stuck it to the Clippers in games 2 and 5 when the Clips folded. But tonight, it was the Spurs who bent to the younger, more athletic Clippers, who may have just realized that truly, when their heads are on straight, they can beat the best of them.
There is a little bit of a damper on the win tonight, however. Glen Davis went out in the fourth quarter with an apparent ankle injury, and had to be helped off the court by a few (strong) folks. He did not return, and his injury is being classified as a sprain. The Clippers are short on big men who they can trust off the bench anyway, and Baby was the guy getting most of the minutes behind Blake. Maybe that just means there will be more time for Hedo to come in and do what he do...what he do. Hedo. You're welcome.
Game 7 will be at Staples Center on Saturday with a 5 p.m. tipoff. Cancel your stupid boxing match plans, because the real main event is gonna be one for the ages.