The Clippers over the past week have had to endure one of the bigger sports scandals in recent memory, no thanks to the racist comments of since-banned team owner Donald Sterling caught on tape.
Battered but unbowed, they found a way to weather a hurtful and emotional storm when they defeated the Golden State Warriors 126-121 on Saturday to win Game 7 of their first-round Western Conference playoff series before 19,543 at Staples Center.
The Clippers win the series 4-3 and advance to the conference semifinals and will play Game 1 at Oklahoma City on Monday. The Warriors, though they played a gallant series, will head home to Oakland, their season over.
It was an incredible back-and-forth game with plenty of heroics.
The Clippers trailed almost all of the first 2 1/2 quarters before they finally took the lead for the first time at 73-72 on a basket by J.J. Redick. The Clippers lead 87-84 heading into the fourth quarter.
The Clippers led 103-96, but then the Warriors came back to take a 107-106 lead on a 3-pointer by Andre Iguodala with 4:24 to play. But the Clippers were not going to roll over on their homecourt and when Blake Griffin threw down a dunk with 1:54 to play, they were up 112-109.
The Warriors called time out to set up the final moments of a real thriller.
Blake Griffin, who led the Clippers with 24 points, made a layup then rolled over backward after hitting the floor for a 116-111 lead. Leading 118-115, DeAndre Jordan threw down a dunk off a lob by Griffin for a 120-115 lead.
But Draymond Greed nailed a 3-point basket to get the Warriors within 120-118 with 13 seconds to play. The Clippers’ J.J. Redick made two free throws with 12.1 seconds to play. Stephen Curry then threw up an air ball, and Chris Paul made two free throws for a 124-118 lead.
Curry came back and made a 3-pointer to cut his team’s deficit to 124-121, but Darren Collison made two free throws with two seconds left to seal Golden State’s fate.
Paul scored 22 points and had 14 assists for the Clippers and Jamal Crawford added 22 points. Redick scored 20 points.
Curry led the Warriors with 33 points, Green had 24 and Klay Thompson 15.
The Clippers trailed almost all of the first 2 1/2 quarters before they finally took the lead for the first time at 73-72 on a basket by J.J. Redick. The Clippers led 87-84 heading into the fourth quarter.