The Golden State Warriors looked like they were going to cruise to a 2-0 series lead over the Clippers midway through the third quarter on Monday night, as they held a 31-point lead over L.A. in Oracle Arena.
It was a mere formality, given that the largest comeback in a playoff game since 2000 was 27 points — done by the Clippers in 2012 against the Grizzlies. Until it wasn’t. The Clippers stormed back to end the third quarter, making it just a 14-point Warrior lead, forcing Steve Kerr to insert his four All-Stars back into the lineup for the final period.
However, the Warriors could never flip the momentum back in their direction as the bench duo of Lou Williams and Montrezl Harrell, who have been magnificent for L.A. all season, led the way in the largest comeback win in postseason history (topping the Lakers 29-point comeback over the Sonics in 1989). Harrell had 25 points and 10 rebounds, dominating in the paint and hitting a pair of crucial free throws in the closing seconds to ice the game at 135-131.
Williams finished the game with 36 points and 11 assists, hitting 13 of his 22 field goal attempts, including some incredibly difficult shots down the stretch.
Williams had the game-tying bucket for the Clippers to complete their comeback, but Steph Curry had the immediate answer with a three to put the Warriors back up three after Kevin Durant fouled out on an illegal screen.
After that, the Warriors went cold, unable to hit some decent looks from Curry (who had just seven of his 29 points in the second half) and Klay Thompson late. On the other side, it was rookie Landry Shamet was the one that got to be the hero as he hit the go-ahead three-pointer in the final 20 seconds to give L.A. their first lead of the second half.
Danilo Gallinari chipped in 24 points, and Patrick Beverley served as the catalyst for the turnaround on the defensive end for the Clippers in the most shocking performance in playoff history — and did extremely Pat Beverley things down the stretch to get the Warriors off their game.
Not only is it the biggest comeback ever, but to do it in Oakland, the place that has been a house of horrors for opponents during this Warriors championship run against the two-time defending champs is spectacular. Afterwards, the Clippers were unsurprisingly thrilled with the accomplishment and celebrated in kind in a stunned Oracle Arena.
What this mean moving forward is unknown. It might serve as a positive for the Warriors, refocusing them on the task at hand and lead them to rattle off a long playoff winning streak. Or, it could be the catalyst for the biggest first round upset the league’s ever seen. That will be settled in the coming weeks, but for now, we can appreciate the impressive fight of the Clippers to get back into that game and give themselves a chance, as well as marvel at the scoring prowess of one of the league’s greatest bucket getters in Lou Williams to finih it off.