Clippers Choke Away Finals Trip

By on May 18, 2015

 

The San Antonio Spurs lost game 7 111-109 in Los Angeles to end the 2014-15 season for the Spurs.  Tony Parker and Tim Duncan tried to stop Blake Griffin and the Clippers. What an amazing 15 year run for San Antonio. (photo USA TODAY Sports  Jayne Kamin-Oncea)

Blake Griffin  and the Clippers got by the San Antonio Spurs but a meltdown against another Texas team the Houston Rockets  brings “choke” into the conversation.  (photo USA TODAY Sports Jayne Kamin-Oncea)

It wasn’t supposed to end like this.  They were up 3-1.  They almost had them in Game 6.  They almost made it to their first Conference Finals.  They were the Los Angeles Clippers and they choke.

One can look at the dispatching of the Spurs as youth and speed getting the best of old age and methodical play.  But what about when the Clippers take on a team similar in age?  Early on in the series, the Clippers were dominate, defeating the Rockets by an average of 24 points in their 3 victories.  A sign of the Clippers domination was reflected in the most recent ESPN Basketball Power Index, where it showed Clippers had overtaken the Golden State Warriors as favorites to win the NBA Title 41%-24%.  But then came games 6 and 7.

Trailing by 19 in the 3rd quarter on Game 6, the Rockets could not seem to figure out a way to stop Blake Griffin and the Clippers.  Griffin had been dominating the series averaging 26.6 points, 13.4 rebounds and 5.2 assists thru the first 5 games.  Desperate Times call for desperate measures and Rockets Head Coach Kevin McHale decided to call a Hail Mary.  He decided to take James Harden (the team’s leading scorer and MVP runner up) out of the game with 1:33 to play in the 3rd Quarter.

The Rockets responded.  Led by Corey Brewer, Josh Smith, Jason Terry and Trevor Ariza, the Harden-less Rockets outscored the Clippers 49-18 over the last 14:30 of the game.  The group of Brewer, Smith, Terry and Ariza scored 34 of the Rockets 49 points.

The momentum from Game 6 carried over into game 7.  Harden led the Rockets with 31 points and Dwight Howard stepped up as well contributing with 16 points and 15 rebounds.  The Rockets dominated the Clippers never trailing and making an improbable comeback to take the series 4-3.  They become the 9th team in NBA history to win a playoff series after trailing 3-1.

The Rockets now move on to play Golden State in the Western Conference Finals and the Clippers will now be forced to sit at home and contemplate what went wrong, and to think about how they blew a two game lead.  Questions will be asked and answers will have to be given.  But one things for sure, the Clippers have nobody to blame but themselves.

 

 

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