They still have a pulse.
Lou Williams scored 33 points and the Los Angeles Clippers shocked the Golden State Warriors, 129-121, in Game 5 of their best-of-seven series on Wednesday night.
The victory was the second straight for the Clippers at Oracle arena, after losing back-to-back games at home in Los Angeles last week.
The Clippers came out of the gate like a team possessed. With their backs against the wall, and nothing to lose, they put up 71 points in the first half, and 156 in their last four quarters at Oracle Arena overall.
Missing in action for the first four games of the series, Italian sharp-shooter, Danilo Gallinari, finally arrived in the nick of time, scoring 26 points in the do-or-die Game 5.
The Clippers led by eight at the half, and in the third quarter, Los Angeles went up by 15 points before the Warriors mounted a comeback, closing the lead to three points late in the quarter.
The first Warriors lead of the game came on an emphatic dunk by Kevin Durant with 2:38 remaining, giving Golden State their first lead since early in the second quarter.
But Williams caught fire down the stretch, scoring nine straight points in the final two minutes to close the door on the defending champs, sending shockwaves throughout the NBA.
The surprising Clippers weren’t even supposed to make the playoffs this season. In what was was deemed to be a rebuilding year after losing Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, and DeAndre Jordan, the Clippers traded away their best player [Tobias Harris] at the trade deadline, signaling to most in the league that the Clips had their sights set on the future, not the present.
However, the Clippers came together through their inspirational leaders in Patrick Beverly and Montrezl Harrell. The Rookies learned from the single greatest bench scorer in NBA history in Williams, and the veteran leadership of their head coach Doc Rivers.
Together, they posted a better record after the All-Star break (21-9), than they did in the first half of the season with Harris. They solidified a playoff spot and fell just two games short of securing the fifth seed, settling for the eighth spot and a first-round matchup with the Warriors, winners of three of the last four NBA titles.
The Warriors have taken the Clippers for granted throughout the series, even hinting after Game 4, that their sights were already set on a second round matchup with the Houston Rockets (a rematch of the 2018 Western Conference Finals).
The Clippers used their status as the largest underdogs in NBA playoff history to their advantage, and came out fast and furious facing elimination in Game 5.
Not only did the Clippers punch first, they punched back. Throughout the last two games of the series, each and every time they got knocked down, they got right back up. Throughout the contest, they showed they were the team with more energy, more grit, more determination and toughness than the reigning NBA Champions.
Williams led the upset-minded Clippers with a team-high 33 points and 10 assists. Harrell chipped in 24 points, and the duo outscored the Warriors bench by themselves, 57-to-19.
Beverly had 17 points and 14 rebounds and JaMychal Green chipped in 15 in just his second start of the series.
Kevin Durant had his best game of the series with a game-high 45 points and the “Splash Brothers” duo of Klay Thompson and Steph Curry combined for 46 points and eight three-pointers.
The loss was just the second in the Steve Kerr era for Golden State in a Game 5 at home. For the Clippers, the victory snapped a streak of five consecutive Game 5 losses. Ironically, the last time the Clippers won a Game 5 was against the Warriors in 2014.
Perhaps, if the Warriors win the Larry O’Brien trophy this year, to complete the first three-peat since the 2000-2002, Lakers, they will look back and credit the Clippers for their keeping them focused in their first round series.
For now, they have to carry over that focus into Game 6, where they will look to win their sixth consecutive playoff game on the road and dispatch of these pesky Clippers who don’t ever seem to go down without a fight.
Game 6 will be on Friday in Los Angeles at Staples Center.