The Los Angeles Clippers have had some big playoff wins through the years. They beat Memphis in a Game 7. They closed out Golden State with all the Donald Sterling drama hanging over their heads.
And then there was Sunday.
After losing Game 3 by 37 points to the Spurs, the Clippers won Game 4, 114-105, in San Antonio to even the series at 2-2 and return to Los Angeles for what now amounts to a three-game series. Game 5 is Tuesday at 9:30 p.m. ET.
“I put this (win) on a tier slightly below those as far as big franchise wins, but this no doubt was a big one,” Orange County Register Clippers beat writer Dan Woike said on CBS Sports Radio’s Ferrall on the Bench. “I think the other thing too was not only was it a win on the road deep into a series and in a situation where they needed it, it came on the heels of getting absolutely the pants blown off of you by a team where they got destroyed in Game 3. (The Spurs) were 38 points better at a time in that game. They looked at least 40 points better. There were questions about could the Clippers bounce back from a loss like this.”
Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, J.J. Redick, Austin Rivers and Jamal Crawford all scored at least 15 points. Paul had a game-high 34, Griffin had 20, and they tied for the game-high in assists, with seven apiece. The Clippers shot just 5-of-18 (27.8 percent) from outside the arc but 40-of-66 (60.6 percent) from inside it.
“I think what this showed, at least to me, was that this team has matured enough to know that when they go into the playoffs, each game is its own independent event,” Woike said. “Game 1 has nothing to do with Game 5, and Game 3 has nothing to do with Game 4. Every time the ball gets tossed up, it’s a new fight, and I think the Clippers showed that. It’s a big sign of maturity.”
The Clippers outscored the Spurs in each of the last three quarters and held of a late surge by San Antonio.
“The Spurs made a couple pushes at the end of the game,” Woike said. “I think there was a time when I looked over and they were up 14 and I looked at the reporter sitting next to me and I said, ‘This would be the worst loss in Clipper history’ – kind of half-joking. And then Kawhi Leonard makes two straight threes and all of a sudden it’s like, ‘uh-oh.’
“(But) I think the Clippers were able to get the ball to the right guys,” Woike continued. “Blake Griffin made some big shots. Jamal Crawford made some big shots. Chris Paul was great in the fourth quarter. Everybody did a little something. They counted on only really eight guys in that game, and you could point to things that all eight guys did to make massive contributions.”
Griffin, for example, had 10 of his game-high 19 rebounds in the fourth quarter. DeAndre Jordan had four blocks.
“That’s the thing that Doc Rivers says: ‘In the playoffs, if you’re not scoring, you got to find something else to do to help us win,’” Woike explained. “I think a lot of guys did that in that game. It just so happened that a lot of guys were scoring, too.”