Clippers beat up, but not beaten

By Scott Howard-Cooper, NBA.com


VIDEO: The Clippers storm from 22 down to shock the Thunder in Game 4

LOS ANGELES – His face worn with the exhaustion of recent weeks, the top button of his white dress shirt undone and the burgundy tie splashed with silver and light blue loosened, Doc Rivers dropped into a chair at the front of the room for the post-game press conference.

He let out a big exhale.

“Would you like to make an opening statement or go right to questions?” the Clippers’ coach was asked at the start.

“No, I want a beer,” Rivers said, drawing laughter from the gathered media even if he wasn’t joking.

He was spent. All the Clippers were. It was a physical Game 4 of the Western Conference semifinals, with Blake Griffin playing the final 8:44 with five fouls and being sent in by Rivers with one instruction, to play with the energy of someone with one foul. Chris Paul gave away nine inches and some 55 pounds while defending Kevin Durant and lived to tell. Griffin got a fist to the groin from Oklahoma City’s Serge Ibaka.

The Clippers came back to somehow beat the Thunder 101-99 on Sunday afternoon at Staples Center and tie the series 2-2 because they were scrappy, not because they were flashy. If this was Lob City, it was the working-class section.

Paul on Durant? “That’s called desperate coaching,” Rivers said. The Clippers were anxiously searching, even reaching, for something to administer CPR.

Scoring 38 points in the fourth quarter to win? The defense was the offense. L.A. went small — Darren Collison, Jamal Crawford, Paul, Danny Granger and Griffin most of the final period — and forced turnovers that became fast-break baskets.

The new energy in the final period? Rivers hoped that trapping more would generate the turnovers, but he also saw that it energized the Clippers to be more aggressive than they had been most of the game that existed before in an alternate universe, the one where the Thunder owned the arena, were coasting to a second win in a row and about to head home to close out the series Tuesday night.

“I think we just willed this one,” Paul said.

Willed it.

Forged it.

Dug deep for it.

The Clippers season was quickly — and, under the circumstances, easily — slipping away, falling into a 12-point hole with only 4:51 gone and having that turn into 22 points, at 29-7, after 9:01. There was zero atmosphere from the home crowd. A 3-1 deficit against a very good team was looming large. And when L.A. did close within 39-35 about midway through the second quarter, the Thunder seemed to slam the door with another demoralizing surge that restored order with a 15-point lead with eight minutes remaining in the third quarter. The cushion was still 12 heading into the fourth.

Rivers’ lineup to start the most important 12 minutes of the season was Glen Davis, Collison, Granger, Crawford and DeAndre Jordan. Paul replaced Davis after 53 seconds. Griffin went in for Jordan and the closest thing to a last stand, given the long odds of beating the Thunder three times in a row with two of the games in OKC, was set for the final 8:44.

“We really locked in on defense,” Crawford said. “We were down 22 at one point and we kept believing and never gave up. We refused to lose. It was a big-time win. I’m not sure that win happens on the road. Like I said, the crowd was terrific tonight and they played a huge part.”

Paul was on the court for all but 3 minutes 2 seconds. Griffin went 40 minutes, Crawford 34, or about nine more than his playoff average. Rivers was weary and he didn’t walk into a size mismatch or get told by Ibaka to turn his head and cough.

“I just thought we hung in there,” Rivers said. “We searched for combinations. We went completely unconventional. We went ultra-small. We put Danny at the four. His numbers won’t show it, but Danny Granger was huge for us. He kept guys from getting rebounds. I thought his length was a factor. Then obviously Jamal and (Collison) in that small lineup, that won the game for us. I’m not sure we ever used that lineup. But that group won the game for us tonight.”

That settles it then. Beers all around.

30 Comments

  1. FreeJack2k2 says:

    When is Ibaka finally going to get disciplined for his dirty play…he has tagged Griffin in the nuts twice now, and bloodied his nose last game. The guy is D.I.R.T.Y.

  2. hjaffe says:

    Notes: Clips deserved to win. Yes, refs messed up in the 4th, but they were missing calls the whole game, the entire series. Doc Rivers is simply out of Scott Brooks’s league as a coach. Ibacka is a dirty player, who, with his thickened frame, looks he’s been on the juice.

  3. MachoCombo says:

    Westbrook said at the end of the game that his last shot was a good look! no shot from 4 feet behind the arc is a good look. Don’t care who you are.

  4. lakers says:

    ibaka is such a dirty player..always seems to hit the player below the belt….besides that great win for clippers but ugly game….going 7 ..anything can happen

    • Your Floppiness says:

      Blake Griffin grabs, holds, pushes and shoves every chance he can. Throws his head back like a 2 year old at every touch. He’s begging for stuff like that. I guess nobody seen the clear out with the right arm to Serge’s junk.

      • FreeJack2k2 says:

        You just described every big in the league. That’s just playing in the post. But Griffin doesn’t nut-punch other players, or purposely bloody their noses. Ibaka is just flat-out dirty.

  5. Game Time says:

    Can the league review Ibaka’s elbow to the groin? That’s clearly a flagrant two.

  6. MR210 says:

    Nice comeback.
    Clippers in 6.

    But they won’t get past the Spurs in the Western Conf Finals.

    OKC completely buckled under pressure. They don’t have the bench, or Coach to defeat the Clippers.

    And to think – many people picked OKC to represent the West in the Finals. That was ridiculous.

    Sorry OKC – you had your chance – but your window is closing. They need to make some changes next year if they truly want to be a Contender…instead of a Pretender.

  7. PalmOil Preference says:

    Im happy the series will go at less game six now. Scott Brooks is making it hard for me to stick up for him anymore. His in game adjustments are horrible. It is not like the Okc is void of a small ball lineup. A lineup with Reggie Russ Caron KD Ibaka could wreck some havoc against the small ball lineup Doc is throwing out there.

    As far as CP3 defense, leverage is a you know what. KD has to be moving of a pick or somethin before he post up. So it can help him get deeper postion because when he stands there and just tries to post up CP3 it benefits CP3 with his stronger lower body he just forces Kd off his intial spot. They need more body movement.

    Coaching and playing with a big lead is hard though especially when it’s early in the game.

  8. celentano says:

    What a comeback this game from the Clips! Westbrook is nada,fake pointguard!

    • Your Floppiness says:

      If’s he’s fake what does that make CP. At least WB has made past the 2nd round in his short career.

      • Game Time says:

        If Westbrook ever has to lead a team by himself maybe he can be in the PG convo. Right now he’s a SG who has control of the ball.

  9. thespectator says:

    it was all doc for sticking with small ball to win that game, this is the difference between coaches, why teams look for good coaches, its for those kinda situations…but for okc to come out and be up that much and still be in strikin distance to win the game, i woulda had kd hit the three and not westbrook…but ya game 5 here we go..

  10. jdub455 says:

    hopin that the clips wud win this series!! go LAC!!

  11. Someone says:

    still Thunder in 6

  12. Brain32 says:

    @squala96 please keep politics out of sports. The owner has nothing to do with the players that worked hard for the entire season and have a bunch of fans, go frame elections or something, there’s too much politics in the sports as it is…

  13. zeke says:

    1. NBA wants 7 games in this series.
    2. horrible ref calls especially with Paul and Griffin in the 4thQ
    3. OKC played dumb basketball in the 4thQ. WB got ill

    • FreeJack2k2 says:

      Don’t even start with the “refs favored the Clippers” mess…this series has been ALL OKC as far as the officials are concerned. You can’t even breathe on Durant and Westbrook.

  14. OKc2014 says:

    Either team can win this series

  15. Ako si Dabid says:

    Oh Im sorry I mean Okc Thunder are gone by the small line up by Lac!

  16. Ako si Dabid says:

    Clippers are struggling to stop small line up. 2012 nba finals that Miami vs Okc could not stop the small line up and thats the smartest Doc Rivers did and should make it again in next game.

  17. squala96 says:

    Clippers should never win this, not with a bigot of an owner, not while they’re in LA. OKC ought to beat them no matter what. But unfortunately, what’s set to be a 3-1 lead coming into the fourth quarter of Game 4 turned out to be a defensive joke from the Thunder that allowed 38 points in the final 12 minutes. This should be a wake-up call for them, that they could have won the game if their D didn’t collapse.

    • WeAreOne24 says:

      The Clippers deserve to win this just as much as the Thunder does. If you don’t understand that, you obviously aren’t a real basketball fan.
      Sorry to break it to you.

    • Common Sense says:

      Bigot – a person who is obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices; especially : one who regards or treats the members of a group with hatred and intolerance
      You my friend are actually acting like a Bigot right now. The owner is on his way out LARGELY in part because the Clippers franchise, players, executives, employees and coaching staff wouldn’t have it. The reason he’s on his way out is because the PRESIDENT of the NBPA, Chris Paul, made it so. If anyone deserves it, for removing an owner who is a Bigot, it is Chris Paul and his team. So it looks like OKC should never win this, since they just sat on the sidelines and waiting while Chris Paul and the NBPA were working to remove an unfit owner of the NBA…#perspective

      • Your Floppiness says:

        Can you image if the Clippers go all the way and end up worth 300 million. When he bought him he paid 17 million. Shame on you cash out and get paid!

  18. Common Sense says:

    Long time Clipper fan and pissed off that we had to watch that game on ABC. Went to Prime Ticket and it was some dumb thing. I literally had to leave the house and turn on 980 to hear Ralph and Mike. Left the house and drove around until the Clippers caught the Thunder and finished them off. Love Ralph and Mike! Not a Clipper game without them. When I heard Jamal Crawford put up a three, I closed my eyes and waited until…BIINNNGOOOOOOOOO!!! Love you Ralph!

  19. Kome the Black Dumba says:

    Hell of a game! Nice comeback but could gone either way. But as usual refs and coaching were horrible.

    • Common Sense says:

      The players were just as horrible as the coaching and refs. So in a nutshell, the game was horrible. And if this game was horrible I guess the NBA is horrible, and in that case I really don’t understand why you spent 3 hours yesterday watching this, theres 500 other channels.#readabook