Los Angeles Clippers
MVP: It sure wasn’t James Harden, who led the Rockets with 23 points (21 at halftime) but sat all fourth quarter. It sure wasn’t Blake Griffin, who had 28 points on 15 shots through three quarters, but went 0-for-5 from the field and fouled out in a scoreless fourth quarter. I could give it to Dwight Howard, who put up 20 points and 21 rebounds. But I’m giving it to new starter Josh Smith, who hit improbable shots while scoring 11 points during Houston’s 25-2 series-saving run in the 4th quarter.
That was … an unforgettable choke job: The Clippers led by 19 points in the third quarter. The Rockets/Dwight Howard/James Harden hate was reaching a rolling boil. Josh Smith’s first fourth quarter three cut the Clippers lead to six with 6:59 left, but Paul answered with a layup to extend the lead to eight with 6:47 left. From that point on, the Clippers opened the door for a monstrosity of a choke by missing 15 field goals in a row. But with Harden sitting, the Clippers let the Rockets go on the aforementioned 25-2 run. Overall, the Rockets scored 40 points in the 4th quarter on 63.9 percent shooting from the field, while outrebounding the Clippers 21-5. The Clippers went from finally reaching the West Finals, to taking yet another trip to Houston… and they lost with their best on the floor.
X factor: Corey Brewer had as many 4th quarter points as the Clippers (15). Brewer also matched the entire Clippers team in 4th quarter rebounds with five. For the game, Brewer outscored the Clippers’ bench by himself, 19-16.
— Law Murray
Tweet(s) Of The Game
(Cont.) BG miss layup Craw miss corner 3 CP3 miss contested corner 3 BG blocked layup CP3 late 24 step back Redick miss open 3 Down 9 w/1:30
— Seth Partnow (@SethPartnow) May 15, 2015
— Kobe Bryant (@kobebryant) May 15, 2015
50th time is a charm! 1st time in 50 tries that Rockets won a playoff game in which they trailed by 10 or more entering 4th quarter
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) May 15, 2015
And, Lawler's Law: pic.twitter.com/eqtGLl2ZRT
— David Aldridge (@daldridgetnt) May 15, 2015
Check Your Messages
Weight On Their Shoulders
Futility. Grabbing defeat from the jaws of victory. Expecting anything that could possibly go wrong to do just that. These are scars that Clippers fans wear as an identity. Some might even call it a curse.
Given the duality of this game’s nature, it was certain that the result of this game would elicit the most polarizing set of emotions. Win, and a chance to further distance oneself from the trauma of many a yesteryear. Lose, and watch as blood begins to surface from scratches and cuts that were long believed to have healed. The unfolding of tonight’s outcome couldn’t have just happened, but had to happen in a way that twisted the knife the furthest and the deepest.
Only once have the Clippers played this late into May, and most players on this team haven’t, either. The tension and apprehension of going even further must have made the ball feel as heavy as the globe, with nobody tonight stepping into the role of Atlas. It certainly appeared that way as the seconds ticked down in the fourth quarter.
Should this current iteration of Los Angeles’ second team have to bear the weight of this team’s torrid and tumultuous past? Do they owe the fans for their persistence in waiting long enough for the privilege of being a contender to fall on this team? Sports is funny in the way that at times one’s allegiance can give the sense that they should and they do, even when the team’s darkest days have nothing to do with the few that don the team’s jerseys now.
But sports is also funny in the way that should the Clippers win on Sunday, the pain of tonight’s loss all but becomes a fading memory, and the healing proceeds once more.
As the saying goes: nothing easy. And why would it be? After all, it’s the Clippers.
– Brandon Tomyoy