Warriors squander 31-point lead, Clippers tie series at 1-1
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Lou Williams led the Los Angeles Clippers to the largest postseason comeback in NBA history.
Landry Shamet hit a go-ahead 3-pointer with 16.5 seconds left, Stephen Curry couldn’t answer on the other end, and the Clippers somehow rallied from 31 points down on the road to stun the Golden State Warriors 135-131 on Monday night and even their first-round playoff series at one game apiece.
The comeback topped a 29-point rally by the Los Angeles Lakers in the 1989 Western Conference semifinals over Seattle. The Clippers confirmed it’s the best comeback ever.
“That’s a record we didn’t necessarily want to have. We’ll take it,” Williams said. “You’re competitive and you get lost in the game. Once you cut the lead to 12, you cut the lead to 10, then you realize you’ve got a game going. I’m one of those guys who can get hot.”
Curry scored 29 points and put the Warriors up 131-128 with 58 seconds left before Shamet’s dagger on a night the two-time defending NBA champions lost DeMarcus Cousins to a leg injury in the first quarter.
“We changed a couple things offensively and defensively in the third on the fly. It worked out for us. But I thought it was our spirit more than anything,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. “Just every single guy. I loved the end of the game.”
Williams tied the game on a jumper with 1:10 to play then Curry immediately answered. Williams scored again at 46 seconds and finished with 36 points and made 8 of 10 free throws in as the teams combined for 64 fouls and 76 free throws attempted.
“When I say we stopped playing, we stopped playing, like defense, offense, execution-wise we were not as engaged as we needed to be,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “We got exactly what we deserved. The Clippers were great. They executed, they were hungry, they stayed connected. They were together.”
Cousins injured his left quadriceps muscle in the first quarter and was done for the game, but Golden State’s depth shined and the Warriors built a 23-point halftime lead they pushed to a 31-point advantage before failing to hold off Los Angeles late.
Williams’ jumper and three-point play with 5:34 left pulled the Clippers within 120-117 then he rebounded his own miss and scored the putback at the 5:05 mark and cut it to 121-119.
“The wheels fell off,” Curry said.
Cousins was scheduled to undergo an MRI exam after the injury in just his second career playoff game following a nine-year wait. The big man returned in January from a nearly year-long absence following surgery for a torn left Achilles tendon.
He won’t play in Game 3 on Thursday at Staples Center and Cousins’ entire postseason is in serious doubt.
Kerr said Cousins will be out “a while.”
“There’s a pretty significant quad injury,” Kerr said.
Cousins hobbled to the locker room at the 8:09 mark of the first quarter. At the 8 1/2-minute mark Cousins stole the ball from Patrick Beverley in the back court and tried to retrieve the loose ball when went down in front of the Golden State bench and grabbed at his left quad.
LeBron James tweeted prayers for Cousins, who fouled out of Saturday’s 121-104 Game 1 win with nine points, nine rebounds and four assists in 21 minutes.
Kevon Looney picked up the bulk of the extra minutes in Cousins’ absence and scored a career-high 19 points making all six of his shots but the Warriors had their seven-game postseason winning streak snapped that dated to last year’s run to a repeat championship. Durant had 21 points, five rebounds and five assists, Klay Thompson scored 17 points and Draymond Green 14 with nine assists.
Curry followed up a 38-point performance in Game 1 that gave him the most 3s in postseason history with another nice showing but Golden State hurt itself with too many miscues.
The Warriors committed 21 turnovers in Game 1, then 22 more Monday — nine by Durant.
“We let our guard down. We weren’t the aggressors anymore. We didn’t deserve to win that game,” Thompson said.
Los Angeles wanted to do a better job stopping the late bursts each quarter the Warriors had in Game 1, and the Clippers were somehow able to claw their way back.
Both coaches challenged their teams to be more poised in Game 2 following the ejections of Beverley and Durant in the opener. Beverley again pushed the limits but the sides avoided a testy encore, and he fouled out with 4:33 to go to roaring cheers from the sellout crowd. Kevin Durant fouled out at 1:21 with a third straight offensive foul.
At morning shootaround, Durant apologized for being tossed from Game 1.
The two-time reigning finals MVP has two technicals, and if he reaches seven during the postseason it brings an automatic one-game suspension.
“I don’t want to disappoint my coaches and my fan base and owners who expect me to be out on the floor, so I apologize for being thrown out the game,” Durant said. “Just keep my mouth shut, just play the game. Simple.”
DOC APPRECIATES GOOD DEED
Doc Rivers dropped $2,000 cash on the street in San Francisco earlier in the day — and offered a pregame “shoutout” to the man with the integrity to return the money.
“Kept walking, didn’t know it. The guy tapped me on the back and said, ‘that’s your money,’” Rivers shared. “I don’t know a lot of places that that would happen, but it happened today, so whoever that was he could have had free tickets if you hadn’t ran away.”
Clippers: Williams scored 17 points in the third to match Chris Paul’s postseason franchise record done May 5, 2014, against Oklahoma City. ... The L.A. backups scored another 83 points after getting 65 in the opener. In fact, in Game 1, Harrell (26) and Williams (25) were the first teammates to come off the bench and score 25 or more points in a postseason game since bench stats began in 1970-71, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
Warriors: With his 129th career playoff game, Durant passed Kerr for 73rd place on the NBA’s all-time list. ... C Andrew Bogut (419) moved by Clifford Ray (411) for sixth place on the Warriors’ career postseason rebounds list.
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