The Clippers staged a furious comeback from 16 points down with nine minutes left to beat the Thunder and even their second round series in Los Angeles. The game started with OKC on the front foot as they were going for the jugular in the form of a 3-1 series lead headed back to Oklahoma for game five.
Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook got off to hot starts, while the Clippers were unable to make anything in the early going. One the Thunder were able to establish their big lead, which was as much as 22 at one point in the 2nd quarter and 17 at halftime, it looked like they would cruise to a win. The Clippers made a bit of a run in the third quarter, but the Thunder pushed it back out to 16 in the 4th before the final, furious rally started.
The Clips went ultra small for their run, with both Chris Paul and Darren Collison on the floor with Jamal Crawford, and it worked. The Thunder started standing around on offense, and were not able to take advantage of the mismatch as Paul guarded Durant down the stretch. Meanwhile, both Paul and Collison were able to use their quickness to get to the rim time and time again in the final six minutes of the game. Collison, who finished with 18, had 12 in the 4th quarter.
Both teams mishandled the final 30 seconds, as the Thunder chose not to foul with a 3.5 second differential and no timeouts remaining down two points, while the Clippers shot too early and gave the Thunder a chance to push and get a decent look, which they did in the form of a Westbrook pull-up three that would have won it. He missed, however, and the Clippers survived in the most exciting contest of the 2nd round so far.
It was a similar story in the second game, as the Wizards raced out to a huge lead behind a 29-11 2nd quarter. Their bench got them going and they took a 17 point lead into halftime. It looked like they would hang on after an Indiana run, as they pushed their lead out to 9 with six minutes left in the game. At that point, Paul George took over the game. Two straight threes and a pair of free throws got them close, and after a basket and two free throws by Roy Hibbert, George converted four straight free throws to give the Pacers the lead. He finished with 39 points, 27 of them in the 2nd half. Several poor possessions down the stretch doomed the Wizards, including their final chance to tie the game which resulted in a turnover in the final seconds.
Despite their bench outscoring Indiana's 32-2 on the night, winning the turnover battle, it wasn't enough for the Wizards as their shooting went south in the 2nd half and they only managed 37 points. Meanwhile, the Pacers found the range from three, making 10-22 attempts, and their big threes in the 4th quarter proved the difference. The Pacers now lead the series 3-1 and will look to close it out in Indiana on Tuesday.
The Nets got hot in game three and got off the mat in this series. They will be looking to even it up in tonight's game four in Brooklyn. The Heat seemed to approach game three with some casualness, and will need to find their higher gear, something they have been able to do throughout their championship runs. The Nets, meanwhile, need to stay hot from beyond the arc if they are going to make a long series out of this. Mizra Teletovic and Joe Johnson drove a huge night from three on Saturday, and they will require more of the same.
The Spurs will look to complete a sweep over the Blazers in Portland in a series where none of the games have really been close. The Spurs have gotten out to huge leads in all three first halves, and the Blazers, while trying to fight back in games two and three, have not been able to really scare the Spurs. San Antonio is winning behind Tony Parker, who is putting on a clinic in this series, and their incredible depth as they are getting major contributions off the bench from guys like Boris Diaw and Marco Belinelli. The Blazers will try desperately to extend the series and get it back to San Antonio for a game five.
- The NBA players are making it clear that they want all Sterlings out of the league, and it appears that the league agrees with them. It's going to be a bit of a drawn out process.
- Manchester City won the Premier League for the 2nd time in three years yesterday with a win over West Ham at the Etihad. Yet another triumph of the massively rich in European football. Sigh.
- Spurs clinched sixth place and a Europa League spot with their win over Aston Villa. Ugh. Europa League.
- Norwich City, Fulham, and Cardiff are relegated to the Championship next season, while Burnley, Leicester City, and either Derby County (in Final) or the winner of the Wigan-QPR semifinal will move up.
- Steve Kerr seems likely to take the Knicks coaching job, while rumor has it that Stan Van Gundy is likely to emerge as Golden State's top choice.
1797: Napoleon conquers Venice
1862: Union troops occupy Baton Rouge
1937: Coronation of King George VI
1943: Churchill arrives in U.S. for meetings with Roosevelt
1970: Harry Blackmun confirmed as Supreme Court Justice