LOS ANGELES—In the end, the Los Angeles Clippers didn’t let the distractions stop them from prevailing to win the Western Conference first round series against the Golden State Warriors of the NBA playoffs.
It has been a long week full of drama surrounded by the Clippers organization, but the team managed to put the Donald Sterling’s untidiness behind them and focus on basketball. The Clippers backs were against a brick wall in Saturday’s must-win Game7–but they survived to see the light at the end of the tunnel after beating the Warriors 126-121.
“I just thought with all this stuff, this team just needed this win,” Coach Doc Rivers said. “This was a hard week. It feels like two months. I just needed to be able to smile and laugh and cheer, and be proud of something. And I was very proud of my players.”
Blake Griffin stayed out of foul trouble and made his presence known on the court scoring 24 points. Chris Paul had 22 points and 14 assists.
But it was Jamal Crawford’s performance that made the difference in the huge victory. His spectacular 4-point play gave the team a spark. Crawford showed why he’s such an important piece to the Clippers’ playbook. Without his services, the Clippers wouldn’t be advancing to the next round. Crawford scored 22 points that had a meaning behind
That kid is something special and the Clippers are more than lucky to have him on their roster. He’s most definitely a reliable player you can rely on daily.
“First off thank God for the win,” Crawford said. “You have to tip your hats to the Warriors, they pushed us to the limit- those guys just would not go away. It was a hard fought game; Even though (Floyd) Mayweather fought tonight, it (Game 7) felt like a heavyweight fight at the Staples, and it was two teams who did not want to lose.”
Rivers had a surreal moment once he realized the game had expired; he spilled his emotions out as the buzzer sounded. Rivers started celebrating from the bench, pumping his fists and high-fiving fans, players and any human being that was in near reach. The only thing he held back were his tears.
“I just thought this team really needed the game,” Rivers said. “I just wanted us to win the game. Not because of not winning last year, I just thought with all this stuff, this team just needed a win. My excitement was not for me at all, it was for everybody. I wanted the fans to get excited. They were almost sitting there in shock, and I
just wanted them to get excited and exhale for a second.”
After an emotional roller coaster ride, the Clippers can finally press the reset button. They will now face the No.2 seeded Oklahoma City who also had a long series and played in a Game 7, just hours before the Clippers had their wills tested by Steph Curry and the Warriors. Both teams will only get 24-hours of rest before tip-off on Monday night, so it’ll be interesting to see how they respond.