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NBA Playoffs 2019: Clippers defeat Warriors in Game 5 to stay alive

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The Clippers shocked the NBA with a strong performance throughout, taking every hit the Warriors gave them and responding to get the W.

NBA: Playoffs-Los Angeles Clippers at Golden State Warriors Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

This team.

The Clippers won Game 5 in Oracle Arena 129-121, stunning the two-time defending champions, and preserving Lawler’s Law in what could have been the legendary broadcaster’s final game. Game 6 is in Los Angeles Friday.

LA came ready to play from the start. Doc Rivers began the contest off with a bit of gamesmanship, electing to have the team shoot on the opposite site of the court. The Fox Sports broadcast noted that Stephen Curry was a bit thrown off by the change. Whatever works. Danilo Gallinari was active from the get-go, even if it still took some time for his jumper to start falling. He attacked the basket and got to the line on his first possession. Gallinari missed his first four three-pointers, but once he came back after a brief rest in the first quarter, his shot finally came alive.

Gallinari was able to take over the offensive initiation load from Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, who was a little tentative after an awesome game 4. Fortunately, Patrick Beverley took up the offensive slack, scoring 14 points and grabbing nine rebounds in the first half.

JaMychal Green was also more aggressive in his second consecutive start, especially setting good, hard screens on the perimeter. LA had a parade of open threes thanks to their five-out lineup. After spending much of the season unwilling to shoot threes at a high volume, the Clippers finally jacked up 21 in the first half, and made nine to take an 8-point lead into halftime, 71-63.

Rivers shortened the rotation to nine men, eliminating the five-man bench lineup for the first time this series. Wilson Chandler was completely excised while Jerome Robinson and Garrett Temple only got 5 and 3 minutes, respectively, in the first half. With Lou Williams, Montrezl Harrell, and three other starters for most of the second quarter, LA finally won the battle of the reserves. Klay Thompson, who generally leads the second units alongside Andre Iguodala, was a minus-13 in the first half.

The Clippers also just generally benefitted from good shooting. Aside from converting their long-range looks, they finally managed to score around the basket. According to Positive Residual, LA made all seven of its shots at the rim in the first half.

The third quarter started well for the Clippers. Beverley and Draymond Green got into a bit of dust-up, but only Green was called for a technical foul, and LA built up a 15-point lead. There was no stopping the Warriors, though, only slowing them down, and Kevin Durant was hot shooting the ball throughout the night. He finished with 45 points on 14-of-26 shooting.

Gilgeous-Alexander had some extra verve in the second half, getting into the lane with some smooth moves around Curry. That enabled the Clippers to maintain a lead even as the threes stopped falling. Golden State cut the lead to three, but the Clippers finally figured out how to close a quarter in the third. Strong defense from Green and Garrett Temple kept the Warriors at bay, and Sweet Lou could not be stopped, both for his own offense and spreading the wealth. At the end of three, Lou had 22 points and 6 assists on 9-of-13 shooting.

The fourth quarter introduced some early adversity, as Green picked his fifth foul giving up a four-point play for Durant. That meant minimal rest for Gallo and Harrell, especially once Green fouled out and Gallinari had to play the remainder of the game. Williams took over the offensive load, however, and even though he had some struggles, he delivered a personal 9-0 run when the Warriors took the lead to earn the victory for the Clippers and send the series back to Los Angeles.

Game notes:

  • Gallinari shouldered the burden of playing 42 minutes as the team’s best player. LA only gets one day of rest before the next game, so hopefully he can recover in time. Gallinari rediscovering his offense was critical to the Clippers victory.
  • Landry Shamet and Beverley each played 37 minutes, and Lou was on the floor for 34. The team’s strength during the regular season may have been its depth, but against the Warriors, there can be no weak links. Credit to Doc for shortening the rotation.
  • Beverley had 14 rebounds. The most any Golden State player had was seven, as the Clippers won the rebound battle 42-39. He is truly something special.
  • LA dominated the paint 54-38. That will have to continue in game 6. It sure was nice to see the Clippers finally finish some bunnies at the rim.