Editor’s note: During the NBA stoppage, we’ll take an occasional look back at some great moments in Clippers history. We start today with something fairly recent.
The Clippers entered a Sunday game against the Brooklyn Nets last season on a roll. In the midst of a 12-game stretch that included 11 wins, the Clippers were coalescing remarkably well after the trade deadline.
Then came the matchup against the Nets. The Clippers were never out of it, but they didn’t play their best game, and the two teams traded double-digit leads back and forth. L.A. appeared to have the game in hand with a 10-point lead and just over a minute remaining, but a furious Brooklyn rally tied the game with five seconds to play.
All of a sudden, it was Lou Williams’ time to shine.
Lou Will had been the team’s closer all season, the spark off the bench that just kept going. He had been cooking that Sunday. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander had taken over playmaking duties, earning his first career double-double with 14 points and 10 assists, so Williams was free to be a scorer. With five seconds to play, he had 22 points on 7-of-15 shooting. Everyone in the building knew the ball would end up in his hands on the final possession of regulation.
Patrick Beverley inbounded the ball to Danilo Gallinari near halfcourt, and he quickly swung it to Williams deep on the wing. Williams centered himself a good four feet behind the 3-point line to take the last shot. Bingo.
It turned out that was the first true buzzer-beater of Lou Williams’ career — he has hit his fair share of game-winners, including a floater to take down the Bucks with 0.3 ticks left on the clock earlier that season. This deep three literally ended the game, and Williams basked in the glory with the crowd afterwards, asking the fans in attendance to get louder and louder.
Afterwards might have been the most entertaining postgame locker room the Clippers had all season. There was celebrating, mockery, and so much genuine enjoyment for a team that kept surprising the rest of the league.
Landry Shamet admitted he had misgivings about the quality of shot Williams was getting, but realized he should have known better than to doubt him. “I’m thinking like alright, it’s a broken play, he’s got two guys on him,” Shamet said. “I’m not a rocket scientist, but that doesn’t look too positive of a situation, but he just makes tough shots. He’s proven that, I don’t know what else to say.”
Garrett Temple, Montrezl Harrell, and Beverley said they knew the shot was true the minute Williams went left. It’s his patented move, getting to his left, and almost floating in air for a split-second before releasing the shot.
The rest of the team couldn’t help but clown Williams for having what Beverley deemed “the weakest celebration”, one that Harrell rated a 3 out of 10. That came in spite of Williams admitting, “I’ve been working on my stuff because they say I don’t show enough emotion.”
Emotion or not, Lou Williams buried the shot. He may not have won over his teammates with his revelry, but he won the game, and it became a moment worth remembering in Clippers history.