The Lob City Era gave way to who knows what, a group that played surprisingly well but was shaken up at the trade deadline when Clippers executives, apparently giving up on the season, traded away two starters and started looking toward the future.
Except these players weren’t ready to give up on themselves, and together Monday night they created the finest moment for a franchise that has had precious few great achievements.
Down 31 points to the two-time defending champion Golden State Warriors, the Clippers didn’t panic, didn’t surrender, didn’t waver.
Their 135-131 victory before a stunned crowd at Oracle Arena reflected every good thing they’ve shown this season about their character and ability and showed the power of a team against the NBA’s best collection of superstars. They go back to Staples Center with the series even at 1-1 and with the knowledge they can beat the high-powered Warriors.
“That’s what we’ve been all season,” Lou Williams said after scoring a game-high 36 points, including 29 of the 85 points the Clippers scored in a frenetic second half.
They were scrappy and feisty and good, staring down the Warriors and the crowd with maturity and determination.
They were smart enough to recognize the Warriors’ focus wavering and fed off that, getting contributions from young and old while illustrating why coach Doc Rivers has so staunchly stood behind this team throughout a sometimes difficult season.
“I love this group. They just don’t give in,” Rivers said. “They allow you to coach them.”
The Warriors, he said, “were beating us at every facet and we kept searching and searching. I thought it was our spirit,” that was responsible for the win.
Maybe his faith helped, too. He made a point of offering support instead of criticism at halftime.
“I told them we are going to win,” Rivers said. “I was honest with them. I said, ‘I don’t know how but we’re going to figure it out. Just hang in there.'”
They did, led by Williams and 25 points off the bench by Montrezl Harrell.
The duo had excelled in Game 1 by combining for 51 points but they really saved the day Monday.
Earlier in the day, Warriors coach Steve Kerr had called them the Clippers’ best players and said their energy and scoring off the bench made the Clippers unique.
“How many teams bring their two best players off the bench? We don’t get too caught up in bench total points because the only thing that matters is total points, obviously,” Kerr said.
Afterward, after Kerr had lost the battle of the benches and for total points, he was terse.
“We stopped playing,” he said. “We got disconnected mid third quarter and lost our competitive edge. When I say we stopped playing I mean we stopped playing defense, offense, execution-wise. We got exactly what we deserved.”
Until then, it appeared the Warriors would romp. Stephen Curry, who …read more
Source:: Daily times