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5 Clutchtakes from miraculous, Lou Williams-led Clippers comeback victory over Warriors

Doc Rivers, Patrick Beverley, Lou Williams, Montrezl Harrell, Steve Kerr, Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry, Draymond Green

OAKLAND, CA – Lou Williams and the L.A. Clippers, fresh off of a 17-point loss to the Golden State Warriors in Game 1, did the impossible on Monday night when they stunned the back-to-back defending NBA Champions by overcoming a 31-point deficit on the road. Yes, you read that correctly, and even the morning after, there’s still a sense of shock as to how the Clippers just did what they did.

To start, the Warriors got too comfortable. Up 31 at home against a team they clearly outmatch, it isn’t surprising to see them take their foot off the gas a little bit. Golden State has a track record this season of giving up leads and allowing teams to sneak back into games.

That being said, the Warriors played exactly into the Clippers’ hands. Golden State is at its best when they move the ball in their free-flowing offense and get great looks. As L.A. inched closer, the Warriors had more one-on-one scenarios, and while they scored on a few of them, it killed the flow of their offense.

“We stopped playing,” said coach Steve Kerr. “We kind of disconnected kind of mid third quarter, lost our defensive edge. They scored 85 points in the second half. We had really done a good job defensively in the first half. So we kind of messed with the game a little bit. When you do that, you’re in some trouble, especially in the playoffs.”

Stephen Curry picked up his fourth foul three minutes into the third quarter, which messed with Golden State’s rotation the rest of the way. DeMarcus Cousins’ reportedly-serious quad injury also forced the Warriors to use more lineups involving Kevon Looney and Andrew Bogut. The way Cousins has been playing, however, you can make a serious case that it almost should’ve helped the Warriors.

Now that we’ve discussed the Warriors, let’s see what the Clippers did well that led to their comeback. As we’ve seen all season, it starts with the guys who DON’T start.

To start off, Lou Williams, who has historically struggled in the playoffs, turned in a second straight career-best performance. Fresh off his 25 points, nine assist game in Game 1, Williams followed it up with an even more impressive 36 points and 11 assists in Game 2. He’s accumulated 61 points and 20 assists on 24-of-43 shooting from the field in two games.

“For me, we on national television, got family, friends, people that look up to you,” said Lou Williams on keeping the fight despite being down 31. “We understand the type of team that we’re playing against, so you don’t want to be the group of guys being blasted on national television. Not only that, we’ve been a resilient team all year. We’ve come back from some deficits like that before. We live with our hard work. That was the most important thing for me.”

Montrezl Harrell was just as fantastic and important as Williams. The 26 points and five rebounds for Trez on 11-of-15 shooting in Game 1 was also one-upped as he poured in 25 points and 10 rebounds on 9-of-9 shooting in Game 2.

“We’re definitely a team that don’t quit,” added Harrell. “We compete and play hard all four quarters. I think we did that tonight. When we got down big, we didn’t hang our heads. We just turned it up a notch on the defensive end, took away the things we supposed to, made tough shots. Just kept running the offense, kept playing.”

The Warriors have been unable to stop the duo of Williams and Harrell, but once Danilo Gallinari (24 points, four rebounds, six assists) and the Clippers’ role players got it going, it was hard to stop the bleeding. Landry Shamet (12 points, four rebounds, four three-pointers), JaMychal Green (13 points, seven rebounds), and Patrick Beverley (10 points, five assists) were the difference in the game.

Here are my five Clutch Takes (I know, it’s been a while) from last night’s absolutely stunning victory for the Clippers.

1 – Largest, most improbable comeback in playoff history

The Clippers overcame a 31-point deficit on Monday night in what is now the largest playoff comeback in NBA history. With 7:31 left in the 3rd quarter and L.A. down 94-63, the odds for a comeback were 0.01 percent, according to ESPN. A lot of factors go into that, including the fact that they were in a deafening Oracle Arena against a pair of MVP’s and Final MVP’s.

Nonetheless, the Clippers mounted their comeback, outscoring Golden State 72-37 in the final 19:31 of the game.

“This is special,” said Doc Rivers. “I don’t care if you’re playing – I can’t think of a really, really, really bad team, and you’re down 30 on the road to anybody, you come back, it’s special. But that’s what was special. Not winning the game. You could hear them in the locker room. They’re not talking about [being underdogs]. They’re talking about coming back and winning.”

2 – Klay Thompson’s struggles

Klay Thompson had another subpar game, his second in this series, finishing with 17 points and three rebounds on 6-of-11 shooting and 1-of-4 from beyond the arc. The numbers may not say so, but his impact felt far below what you’d expect from arguably the best 3-and-D player in the NBA on the best team in the NBA..

“Lack of focus, lack of effort, just playing with heart,” Thompson said on what accounted for the blown game. “Those three things. We’ll come back and we’ll bounce back, play with great passion in a few days.

“We let our guard down. Weren’t the aggressors any more. We didn’t deserve to win that game. Basketball gods didn’t reward us. I had a wide-open look at the top of the key, in and out. It happens. We’ll bounce back. I’ll bounce back. The whole team will. We’ll right the ship.”

Realistically, there’s no reason to assume the Warriors won’t bounce back and win three games in this series. Klay Thompson will probably play a significant part in that, but so far, the Clippers have held him in check.

If there’s one shocking stat on the Warriors side last night, it’s that Thompson was a -20 in eight fourth quarter minutes. That’s really hard to do.

3 – Patrick Beverley being… Patrick Beverley

Patrick Beverley did exactly what Patrick Beverley does.

“Be Pat,” said Beverley on what he did tonight. “I can’t help if people get irritated by me, it’s not my fault. I go out there, I try to be the best defender on this f*cking planet.”

“He’s so important for us. I think people get lost in some of his antics and stuff. But his spirit and his soul is so important for our team. He was encouraging everybody. I thought him and Lou in particular in the timeouts, when we were down, they kept going to the young guys. You could see that. I thought they were really important for us.

4 – Comeback Clippers

The Clippers completed their fourth 20+ point comeback of the year, and their third 25+ point comeback of the year, and their second 30 point comeback of the year. Those games all came in the regular season during the team’s six-game road trip prior to the All-Star break and coincided with the trade deadline:

  • @ Detroit, down 25
  • @ Charlotte, down 20
  • @ Boston, down 30
  • @ Golden State, down 31

“We’ve been down a lot, traded, we’ve broken up our team, and we just keep coming back,” said coach Rivers. “We’re the roach after the atomic bomb. That’s what we like to be. We just keep coming back.”

“We just continue to play hard,” said Williams. “We just play hard. I’ve always said to guys, Just play hard as you can, live with the results. We have those big deficits like that, I don’t really think we can come back and win the game. We just play as hard as we can to give ourselves an opportunity not to get embarrassed. When it gets to a place like this is okay, doable, that’s when your mindset kind of clicks.”

“When we’re playing our style of basketball, we’re good enough to beat any team in the NBA,” added Harrell. “When we’re not, we can lose to any team in the NBA. That’s basically what I think about the situation. I think when we started being who we were in the second half, as you see the results, man, we made a big-time comeback. We definitely don’t want to put ourselves in those situations because later on down the road you can run out of gas. When we play our style of basketball, you seen what we was able to do.”

5 – Record-setting night for L.A.

The Clippers set a few franchise and NBA records last night (most of these courtesy of the terrific Clippers PR team):

  • 31 point deficit marks the largest comeback in NBA playoff history.
  • 34 total assists in Game 2 set a franchise playoff record.
  • 85 second half points sets a franchise record for points in a half.
  • 44 points in the third quarter set a franchise record for points in a quarter.
  • 9-of-9 shooting for Montrezl Harrell set the franchise record for most made field goals without a miss.
  • Lou Williams’ 29 points in second half set a franchise record for points in a half by a single player.
  • Lou Williams becomes second player since 1985 to log 30+ points & 10+ assists off the bench in a playoff game. The first was assistant coach Sam Cassell back on May 30, 1995 against the San Antonio Spurs.
  • Lou Williams and Montrezl Harrell became the first duo to score at least 25+ points off the bench. They did it again in Game 2.
  • Lou Williams set personal playoff career-high in points (36) and assists (11).
  • Danilo Gallinari set a personal playoff career-high in points (24)