There will be heartache in Clippers’ Nation for the next two days.
The Clippers gave away a game they essentially had won.
They stopped playing in a game that wasn’t over.
They didn’t deliver the final knockout blow when they had their opponent on the ropes.
And because of that, the Clippers are in a bind.
The best-of-seven second-round series they once led 3-1 over the Houston Rockets is tied at 3-3 because the Clippers failed to complete the job in Game 6 at Staples Center on Thursday night.
They somehow blew a 19-point lead they had built with 2:35 left in the third quarter.
They somehow have twice failed to close out a series when the opportunity was right there in front of them.
The Clippers will have to collect themselves and win Game 7 in Houston at the Toyota Center on Sunday to advance to the conference finals for the first time in franchise history.
But NBA history is not on the Clippers’ side.
The home team has won 80% of Game 7s.
However, the Clippers have had success during the Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan era in Game 7s.
They won a Game 7 at Memphis in a 2012 first-round series, won a Game 7 at home against Golden State in a first-round series in 2014 and won a Game 7 at home against the defending NBA champion San Antonio Spurs in a first-round series in 2015.
“We don’t have a choice but to forget about this game and move on,” Paul said. “We have another Game 7 on our hands.
“Unfortunately, we’re very familiar with Game 7s. We just have to finish off the series.”
The best strategy for the Clippers is playing as hard as they can for as long of the 48 minutes as they can.
They must keep their pace on offense and not slow down because they have a big lead.
They can’t play not to lose like they seemed to do in Game 6.
They went through a stretch in which they missed 14 consecutive shots in the fourth quarter and were outscored 40-15 in the fourth.
“Hopefully we can learn something from this and get them ready for Sunday,” Clippers Coach Doc Rivers said. “They’ll be ready. It’s just going to take a little while.”
Follow Broderick Turner on Twitter: @BA_Turner