The Los Angeles Clippers are the walking dead.
After the greatest comeback in NBA postseason history in Game 2 of their first-round playoff series with the Golden State Warriors, the Clippers lost back-to-back games at home.
This series is over. Make no mistake about it, but the Clippers can prolong the inevitable, as the Warriors still need to end it.
Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson combined for 65 points, and the Golden State Warriors defeated the Los Angeles Clippers, 113-105, in Game 4 of their best-of-seven playoff series at Staples Center.
If Easter Sunday was the final home game of the season for the Clippers, then they definitely did not go quietly into the night. After losing by 27 points in Game 3 on Thursday, the Clips came out with something to prove in Game 4.
Unlike their start in Game 3, where they surrendered 41 first quarter points and trailed by 17, the Clippers began the game making a statement to the Warriors:
we won’t go down without a fight.
The Clippers actually took a 22-20 first quarter lead before Thompson and the Warriors went on a 12-0 run to end the first frame.
The Clippers clawed and scratched their way back into the game, trailing by just four points with three seconds left in the half, but Durant drained a three, and got fouled, to complete a four-point play just before the break.
“Any shots you can make going into the halftime, whether it’s a lay-up, or a four-point play, that’s good for momentum,” said Durant. “Basketball is all about momentum and flow, and they had it. Even though it was just four points, it was good at that time for us to get a little bit more separation knowing that they had some momentum going into the half.”
Clippers’ head coach Doc Rivers thought Durant’s four-point play was a pivotal play in the game.
“It was a big play,” said Rivers. “We should have trapped him. That’s what we were trying to do. No one came. That’s a great example at the end of that quarter, I think we have a four-on-one, Pat [Beverly] pulls up for a three, we get nothing out of it, and they come down and get a four-point pay. That’s just the way the game goes. Can’t get it back.”
The Clippers resiliency continued throughout the game. Every time the Warriors made a push, the Clips pushed back. Every time the Warriors hit the Clippers with a punch, the Clips counterpunched. L.A. played inspired basketball during stretches throughout the game, including an 18-7 run in the third quarter that put them up five.
“You’ve got to keep punching,” Clippers’ coach Doc Rivers said. “You’re going to get hit. You have to throw punches back. I loved how we fought. I loved how we kept coming back.”
Unfortunately for the Clippers, the Warriors landed the knockout punch in the final few minutes of the game, and hung on to defeat the Clippers, sending the series back to Oakland with the three-time defending Champions up 3-1.
“We already let one slip away,” said Thompson who had 27 points in the first half and a dagger three late in the fourth quarter. “Tonight we came in with that mindset to put our foot on the throttle and not let go because we let go in Game 2 and we won’t do that again the rest of the Playoffs. I really believe that.”
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander led the Clippers with a career-high 25 points, the most by a Clippers’ rookie in the playoffs in franchise history.
“I saw spots where I could take advantage offensively, and I tried to do so today,” said Gilgeous-Alexander of his offensive explosion in Game 4.
Patrick Beverly and Lou Williams each had 12 points, Montrezl Harrell had 10, and Danilo Gallinari finished with 16 points, as the Clippers now find themselves on the brink of elimination.
“If those two guys — and those are our two key offensive guys, struggles, then it’s going to be hard, very, very hard for us to win against anyone, let alone Golden State,” said Rivers about Williams and Gallinari combining to shoot 7-for-30.
This could be the last time Los Angeles fans see Patrick Beverly, Garrett Temple, and JaMychal Green at Staples Center. They are all unrestricted free agents at the end of the season.
Thompson got hot in Game 4, scoring 32 points and sinking six three-pointers. Durant had a team-high 33 points, seven rebounds, and six assists.
“The ball was just finding me,” said Thompson of his hot-shooting. “I didn’t do anything special. I was just getting open and knocking down shots, playing in a good rhythm, see a few go in, and then all you need is a little space.”
Stephen Curry was in foul trouble for most of the first half, but still finished with 12 points, 10 rebounds, and seven assists in the victory, the Warriors fifth consecutive on the road in the playoffs dating back to last season.
The Warriors can close out the Clippers in Game 5 at Oracle Arena on Wednesday.