The LA Clippers pulled off the greatest comeback in NBA playoff history on Monday, rallying from 31 points down midway through the third quarter to shock the Golden State Warriors in Game 2, 135-131.
Those are the raw facts, and they speak for themselves. Let it sink in: Greatest comeback in NBA playoff history.
And yet, those details don’t nearly encapsulate the sheer magnitude of what took place at Oakland’s Oracle Arena, where the two-time defending champions were well on their way to taking a commanding 2-0 lead before the bizarre inconsistencies that have plagued them all season reared their ugly heads once again, at the worst possible time.
And so did the Clippers, who fought back from 28 and 25 points down to win games during the regular season.
“This is who we’ve been all season,” Clippers sixth man Lou Williams said.
Trailing by 31 with 19:31 remaining, they proceeded to outscore the Warriors 72-37 the rest of the way. (Some perspective: That’s only two fewer points than the Indiana Pacers scored during the entirety of their 84-74 loss to the Boston Celtics on Sunday.) While the Clippers shot 69 percent on their final 39 shots, the Warriors could do almost nothing right, misfiring on 19 of their last 27 attempts — with 14 turnovers. It was a shocking display of carelessness and ineptitude from a team that, at its best, almost seems like it’s playing a different sport.
Williams fueled the inferno with 26 of his 36 points coming in those final, crucial minutes, while fellow spark plug Montrezl Harrell scored 15 of his 25 in the fourth.
And what would a Clippers win be without some agitation from Hall-of-Fame irritant Patrick Beverley, who helped limit Kevin Durant to just eight shots in 34 minutes before fouling out. Beverley outdid himself at one point, fouling Durant twice and goading him into a pair of offensive fouls in a span of just 47 seconds.
Beverley fouled out as well, on a flop in which Draymond Green took immense delight.
But it wasn’t too long before the Clippers were the ones doing the celebrating, heading back to Staples Center for Games 3 and 4 with home-court advantage while the Warriors look to pick up the pieces without staring center DeMarcus Cousins, who could be out for an extended period with what Kerr called a “pretty significant” quad injury.
“It’s a tough feeling,” said Stephen Curry, who finished with 29 points. “We’re talking to each other, trying to figure out how we’re going to move on and use this as fuel for Game 3. But other than that, it’s just the playoffs. Everything is heightened. You have to lock into the details that separates champions from the rest.”