The Los Angeles Clippers made the best comeback in NBA playoff history on Monday, racking up 31 points in the middle of the third quarter to wow the Golden State Warriors in Game 2, 135-131.
Those are the raw facts, and they speak for themselves. Let it in: the best comeback in the history of the NBA playoffs.
And yet, those details do not sum up the magnitude of what happened at Oracle Arena in Oakland, where the two defending champions were on course to take a 2-0 lead against the strange inconsistencies that have plagued them. All season he raised his ugly heads once more, at the worst possible moment.
"We got exactly what we deserved," said Warriors coach Steve Kerr.
And so did the Clippers, who recovered 28 and 25 points to win games during the regular season.
"This is who we've been all season," said the Clippers' sixth man, Lou Williams.
Dragging by 31 with 19:31 remaining, they proceeded to overtake the Warriors 72-37 the rest of the way. (Some perspective: that's just two points less than the Indiana Pacers scored during the entirety of their 84-74 loss to the Boston Celtics on Sunday.) While the Clippers threw 69 percent in their last 39 shots, the Warriors could do almost nothing right, failing in 19 of their last 27 attempts, with 14 turnovers. It was a shocking show of carelessness and ineptitude of a team that, at its best, almost seems to be playing a different sport.
Williams fed hell with 26 of his 36 points in those final and crucial minutes, while Montrezl Harrell scored 15 of his 25 in the fourth.
And what a Clippers would gain without the agitation of Hall of Fame irritant Patrick Beverley, who helped limit Kevin Durant to just eight shots in 34 minutes before failing. Beverley overcame himself at one point, fouled Durant twice and prompted him to a pair of offensive fouls in a span of only 47 seconds.
Beverley also missed a flop on which Draymond Green delighted greatly.
But it was not long before the Clippers celebrated, returning to the Staples Center for Games 3 and 4 with the advantage of playing at home, while the Warriors seek to collect the pieces without looking at the center DeMarcus Cousins, who could be out for a prolonged period with what Kerr called a "quite significant" quad injury.
"It's a difficult feeling," said Stephen Curry, who finished with 29 points. "We're talking to each other, trying to figure out how we're going to go ahead and use this as fuel for Game 3. But other than that, it's just the playoffs, everything is improved, you have to lock yourself in the Details that separates the champions from the rest. "
Big Ben delivery
The first game of Saturday's series between the Philadelphia 76ers and the Brooklyn Nets was one that Ben Simmons would forget.
In addition to fighting in one of his less productive outings of the season (nine points, seven rebounds, three assists), the Sixers All-Star aggravated his no-show by attacking the Philadelphia faithful for his, let's say, less-more than enthusiastic reaction when Game 1 escaped.
(Translation: They followed a long tradition of civic tradition and booed the local team for playing badly).
Simmons reviewed that criticism, then took the matter into his own hands in Game 2 with his second career playoff triple, when the 76ers unleashed a registration record adjustment in the networks to match the series to 1-1.
The Sixers broke the franchise playoffs that had remained in 49 and 52 years, respectively, with 51 points in the third quarter and 145 points in total. His 51 points tied the Lakers' 57-year record for the most points scored in a playoff, and marked only the third time an NBA team has reached the 50-point threshold in a period.
At the individual level, Simmons racked up 18 points, 10 rebounds and 12 assists to equal Wilt Chamberlain (of course) and Charles Barkley as the lonely players in the team's annals with multiple postseason double triples.
Despite the grand finale, the first half was a great contest as the Sixers took a slim advantage of one point at halftime. They could greatly thank Simmons for that, as he scored or helped in 13 of his first 26 field goals.
He represented six more cubes in that third blister, and the defeat was under way. At one point during the surge, Simmons enchanted the same fans who expressed their displeasure two days earlier by taking the ear to the crowd as the great Allen Iverson of the Sixers, who, along with Dikembe Mutombo, attended and enjoyed the track of game. .
Combined with a handful of other strong performances, including 23 points and 10 rebounds from fellow All-Star Joel Embiid, not even a bad night by Jimmy Butler (seven points in 30 minutes) could slow down the Sixers' machine, or man who managed it
"I was thinking about the boos of the last game," Simmons said of his tribute to Iverson. "I have a lot of love for this city, I was just showing that, the hustle and bustle that I try to give in each game is not only for my teammates and my family, but for the city."
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