It was exactly a year ago that the Los Angeles Clippers wrote their names in the history books, the team executing the biggest comeback in NBA playoff history with a rousing rally to beat the Golden State Warriors 135-131 on April 15 at Oracle Arena.
With the Clippers down 31 points just before the midway point of the third quarter, the Warriors were getting ready for their practice of putting the starting unit on ice for the entire fourth quarter in blowouts. But LA wouldn’t let that happen, as they clawed their way back into the game, little by little, and eventually outscored the Warriors 72-37 over the remainder of the game to take the W.
Landry Shamet scored the winning basket with 15.9 seconds to go, and Lou Williams scored 36 points (29 in the second half), while Montrezl Harrell added 25 points and 10 rebounds.
Combine the Clippers hitting a hot run with Stephen Curry suffering from foul trouble in the third quarter, to help kickstart the comeback, and Kevin Durant having a rough night overall and fouling out. Meanwhile DeMarcus Cousins got injured in the first quarter. Patrick Beverley also fouled out, but his job — to disrupt Durant — worked a treat and was a noble sacrifice for his team.
In addition to making history, this game featured Steve Ballmer at his excitable best (for now)...
...and led to an indelible quote from Doc Rivers on the Clippers: “We don’t die, we multiply — we’re roaches.”
That quote is so good the Safdie brothers — who are huge NBA fans — used it in their latest film “Uncut Gems.” Yes, there are some continuity issues, since the movie was set before this game took place, but they knew gold when they heard it.
This game was in many respects the high point of the Clippers’ playoff campaign last season. They won another one in this series, Game 5, also at Oracle Arena, to make it 3-2. But the Warriors won Game 6 and went all the way to the NBA Finals, where they lost to Kawhi Leonard’s Toronto Raptors.
This game exploded a couple truisms about the NBA: West Coast games are no more sleepy than any others, they just come when people in the Eastern Time Zone are sleepy; And don’t think a 30-point (or 31-point) lead midway through the third quarter is safe. For one night, the Clippers broke the conventions and put together the very best comeback we’ve ever seen in NBA Playoffs history.