Clippers Look To Avoid Total Collapse In Game 7 Vs. Rockets
If you are compiling a list of the biggest single-game playoff choke jobs in NBA history, Thursday night’s Game 6 between the Clippers and Rockets has to be either at or near the top. Los Angeles seemed to have its first-ever trip to the conference finals in the bag only to wilt in the fourth quarter. Now there’s a Game 7 in Houston on Sunday. The Clips are 1.5-point favorites on BetOnline with a total of 220.
Clippers Stopped Playing Hard
The Clippers, who had destroyed Houston in Games 3-4 in L.A., were up 19 late in the third quarter. Rockets coach Kevin McHale seemed to have waived the white flag in taking out star James Harden. The lead was 12 with 8 minutes 17 seconds left. A few shaky moments were erased by guard Chris Paul’s layup with 6:47 left, the lead at 8.
“Sometimes you want stuff so bad that you can’t get it because you’re in your own way,” Coach Doc Rivers said later.
With their 102-94 lead with 6:47 left, the Clippers missed their next 11 field goal attempts — open jump shots, layups, even a dunk. The Rockets scored the game’s next 18 points and 25 of the next 27. During the fourth quarter, in what should have been a celebration, the Clippers were outscored, 40-15. Final score: 119-107. Corey Brewer scored 15 of his 19 points in the fourth quarter, while Harden didn’t play a single second in the quarter. Amazing. Josh Smith scored 14 of his 19 points in the fourth. it was just the third time in NBA history that a team playing at home with a chance to clinch a playoff series blew a double-digit lead entering the fourth quarter.
“We took our foot off the gas, stopped defending, a lot of things,” said Blake Griffin, who finished with 28 points and missed all five of his shots in the fourth quarter when the Clippers were 4-of-22 from the field.
In their history, the Rockets had never won a playoff game when trailing by 10 points entering the fourth quarter (0-49). After taking a 3-1 series lead and leading every game of the series but one by at least 15 points, the Clippers must now travel to Houston to play Game 7 to save their season.
Blowing 3-1 Leads Rare
In NBA history, teams that have led a best-of-seven series 3-1 have gone on to win the series 96.5 percent of the time. Prior to this series, 227 teams had trailed 3-1 but only eight came back to win, with the last being the 2005-06 Phoenix Suns over the Los Angeles Lakers in the first round.
If there is one silver lining for L.A. backers, it’s that the Clippers are 3-0 in Game 7s over the past four seasons. They were forced to win Game 7 at Memphis after blowing a similar 3-1 series lead to the Grizzlies in 2012 and beat the Golden State Warriors and Spurs in Los Angeles in Game 7 of the first round the past two postseasons. However, home teams win Game 7s more than 90 percent of the time in the NBA playoffs.
Watch the rebounding total in Game 7 as the team that has won the battle of the boards has taken all six games in this series. With Dwight Howard on the court for 40 minutes, energized, engaged and grabbing 21 rebounds, the Rockets outrebounded the Clippers 60-41 in Game 6.
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