The Clippers have scratched and clawed all season, and they weren’t about to let up because they were down 3-1 to the reigning champion Warriors.
Lou Williams came off the bench for 33 points and led the Clippers past Golden State with a flurry of points in the final four minutes. The 129-121 victory on the Warriors’ home court overshadowed a stellar game by Kevin Durant, who finished with a playoff career-high 45 points.
But Wednesday night belonged to Williams, Montrezl Harrell, Danilo Gallinari and Patrick Beverley, who extended the first-round series to Game 6 on Friday.
The Clippers led most of the game, but the Warriors made a run late in the fourth and took a 118-117 lead with 2:40 left on a drive and dunk by Durant, his final score. Williams then proceeded to reel off nine points, including this fadeaway jumper at 1:29 that put the Clippers up by seven, 125-118.
They cruised the rest of the way as the Warriors capitulated in the final 30 seconds.
Harrell also contributed big time off the Clippers bench, dominating in the paint with dunk-after-dunk and finishing with 24 points.
Here are a couple of examples:
Beverley grabbed 14 rebounds, took a key charge late and finished with 17 points.
“He came out with more energy and that set a tone,” said Warriors coach Steve Kerr, noting that Beverley fought for three early offensive rebounds.
Gallinari added 26 points and seven rebounds.
Durant’s shooting — he was 14-for-26 with five 3-pointers and 12-for-12 at the line — kept the Warriors within striking distance.
This heavily contested 3-pointer, which resulted in a four-point play, shows his shooting prowess.
Climbing the playoffs list
Durant passed John Havlicek for No. 12 on the all-time playoffs scoring list, moving past Havlicek’s 3,776 points late in the first quarter.
— NBA (@NBA) April 25, 2019
Durant, who poured in 21 in the first half, passed Havlicek with his second 3-pointer with 2:37 left in the first quarter. His 45 for the game gives him 3,815, and Larry Bird is next on the list with 3,897.
Taking away the step-back 3 — and losing
But they’ve showcased a way to keep reigning Kia MVP James Harden somewhat in check — guard him from behind, taking away the step-back 3 and forcing him to drive and shoot floaters. Despite an 0-for-7 start from the field, Harden still finished with 26 points. But that’s well off his league-leading regular-season average of 36.1 points.
Harden made this floater in the fourth quarter, but this is how Ricky Rubio guarded him, sliding behind and allowing a lane to open.
The Jazz forced him inside and tried to protect the rim without fouling, forcing the two-point shot instead of the 3-pointer from distance with the possibility of a foul and a four-point play.
Harden also misfired a bit more than usual in his 10-for-26 shooting night as this failed dunk attempt shows:
Harden missed a wide-open dunk 😬 pic.twitter.com/SliKqnpwD7
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) April 25, 2019
The strategy employed by the Jazz showed up in the limited number of times Harden went to the foul line: only five and hitting three. He averaged getting to the line 11 times per game in the regular season and scored 9.7 points from the line. And Harden wasn’t a big factor from behind-the-arc, going 3-for-12.
But the Jazz couldn’t capitalize on the offensive end, missing many open 3-point looks. They were a woeful 9-of-38 from behind the arc, or 23.7 percent.
Joe Ingles (11 points, nine assists) and Rubio (17 points, 11 assists) played well, keeping Utah in the game, but the Jazz couldn’t break through down the stretch.
Donovan Mitchell, who was only 4-for-22 and finished with 12 points, missed a 3-pointer in the final minute and Chris Paul sealed the win with two free throws. Mitchell misfired on all of his nine 3-point attempts.
Andrew Bogut joined the Warriors near the end of the regular season after playing Down Under with the Sydney Kings. The big man has filled a valuable role with the leg injury to DeMarcus Cousins. In Australia, they’re under the impression he would like to do it again next year.
Andrew Bogut open to returning to NBA for another playoff run after next Sydney Kings season #NBLxNBA
— NBA Australia (@NBA_AU) April 24, 2019
Stat of the night
The Rockets had 12 steals and 12 blocks. The last time they had double-digits in both categories was 1995 in Game 5 of the conference finals. They went on to win their first title.