The Los Angeles Clippers beat the Oklahoma City Thunder 101-97 in Game 4 to tie their NBA Western Conference semifinals series 2-2.
Instead of coming out hot and exhibiting the necessary energy required to put up a challenge, the home team came out flat. For the first six minutes, the Clippers only had one basket and trailed by 12 points. The Thunder came out hot and made 11 of their first 17 shots, extending their lead to 17 points after one quarter.
However, Chris Paul would not let his team die without a fight. On Mother’s Day at Staples Center, the Clippers’ point guard guided his team to an 11-point deficit at the half. Paul had 13 points, four assists and three rebounds at the intermission.
The Thunder had led by as many as 22 points in the first half, and the combination of Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant continued to prove potent. Durant, who was named the NBA’s Most Valuable Player following Game 1, had 19 points at the half, and Westbrook had 15 points of his own to go along with four rebounds and five assists.
Although the third quarter featured the Clippers cutting the lead to single digits, the period finished with the Thunder holding on to a 14-point lead. By that point, Durant already had 30 points, and Westbrook was the second-leading scorer in the game, which did not bode well for the Clippers.
Blake Griffin, who started the game 0-5, was up to 15 points for the contest, but he was unable to completely get going, as Serge Ibaka continued to play tough defense on the Clippers' all-star forward.
Entering the fourth quarter, a comeback in the game and the series seemed less and less likely, and the Clippers did not help matters by falling behind by 16 points almost immediately.
However, Paul again led the charge and cut the deficit to only six points with a little more than six minutes remaining in the game. From there, it was anyone's ball game, and the towel-waving Clippers' home crowd suddenly came to life.
With 2:57 left in the game, the Clippers cut the lead to one point after Durant committed his seventh turnover, and the crowd proceeded to stand for the final few minutes of the engaging contest. Durant, however, responded with a couple big baskets his next couple times down the court.
The Clippers, though, suddenly could not stop scoring, and the Thunder found themselves trailing in the final minute. With 32.8 seconds, the Clippers point guard Darren Collison ran out and caught the Thunder’s defense sleeping.
With his layup, the Clippers led 101-97, their largest lead of the game. Westbrook would respond with a lightening quick layup. Following a miss by Griffin, Westbrook came down the floor and launched an open three-pointer for the win. The ball did not drop, however, and the Clippers won the game and tied the series at 2-2 heading back to Oklahoma City.
Game 5 will be Tuesday at 6:30pm Pacific Time