The Los Angeles Clippers pulled off an improbable 135-131 win over the Golden State Warriors on Monday night, doing so in historic fashion. In the third quarter, the Clippers were down 31 points with seven minutes and 28 seconds left to play. Televisions across the country turned off at the sight of what we’ve seen so many times over the last four years: a Warriors blowout win.
For once, they were turned off too soon. The Clippers rallied to win, completing the the biggest comeback in playoff history.
Pinpointing one distinct reason for the Warriors’ demise is difficult. The absence of DeMarcus Cousins since his potentially season-ending quad injury in the first quarter hurt, but Golden State did just fine building the 31-point lead without him.
Similarly, crediting just one Clippers player is difficult. Montrezl Harrell exploded for 25 points on 9-of-9 shooting, Danilo Gallinari scored 24 with six assists, and Lou Williams hit seemingly every off-balance shot in crunch-time for a game-high 36 points and 11 assists. Everything was going the Clippers’ way, in quintessential aggressive and defensive L.A. fashion.
Here are the plays that defined Los Angeles’ miracle comeback.
1. Patrick Beverley’s strip of Steph Curry
Early in the fourth quarter, the Clippers cut into Golden State’s lead, at least getting it in the teens.
But they couldn’t get over the hump to make this game really close until a high-energy play by Beverley, of course. L.A.’s point guard, who makes it his mission to get into the head of his opponent, was always going to be the personality that brought the Clips within striking distance.
2. Lou Williams’ and-one
With just more than five minutes to play in the game, Williams, the Clippers’ leading bucket-getter, knocked down an off-balance shot after contact from Andre Iguodala. This brought the game within one possession for the first time since the opening quarter.
3. Kevin Durant’s and-one
Even with the Clippers surmounting a miraculous comeback, their historic win never felt likely in the final minutes. With just under three minutes to play, Durant drove down the middle of lane and invited contact as he flushed home a dunk.
This opened the Warriors’ lead to five points and made most of us think the Warriors had wrestled control back.
4. Montrezl Harrell stayed active in the stretch run
Harrell’s offensive game is limited to moves inside the low block — dunks, layups and small hook shots. But that’s all he needed against a paltry Golden State inside defense without Cousins.
It’s no wonder Harrell went perfect from the field. He played his clean-up role so easily and kept LAC fighting all night.
5. Even still, Curry’s clutch three looked like it would do it
With just over a minute left, Williams hit an off-balance two-point shot to tie the game, but Golden State immediately answered. It was Curry who swooshed home a three with 58 seconds left.
It felt over at this point. Surely Golden State could hold off Williams from nailing an outside jumper and save itself from humiliation.
6. Landry Shamet’s shot was the dagger
Williams made another two-point shot to bring the Clippers within one point, then Klay Thompson missed a three, which gave L.A. the ball back with 31 seconds to go.
To clinch the game with 16.5 seconds left, it wasn’t Williams or Gallinari or Harrell. It was Shamet, a rookie drafted by the Sixers and shipped to L.A. via the Tobias Harris trade, who sunk the winner.
This was truly a win by committee, which defines everything that Doc Rivers’ team is about.
7. Lou Williams’ post-game nachos
Looooooou Will, munching on nachos & checking social media mentions after serving up buckets & leading his squad to the largest playoff comeback in NBA history, against the two-time defending champs, in their own building ( via @LAClippers) pic.twitter.com/MB9bS8p01J
— Michael Lee (@MrMichaelLee) April 16, 2019
Yes, beating the Warriors after coming back from a 31-point deficit was delicious, but Williams still had an appetite. Here he is eating post-game nachos, the one true meal of a Warriors-slayer.
What a huge win for the Clippers, who can breathe easy even if they lose every game left in this series. They’ve over-performed expectations all season long.