The Clippers accomplished the improbable, eliminating the defending champion San Antonio Spurs in Game 7 of their first-round playoff series with a 111-109 win Saturday at Staples Center. Fitting for the series, the game came down to the final second.
With one second left and the game tied, 109-109, Chris Paul made a running jumper to give the Clippers the win.
The game featured 31 lead changes and 16 ties, the Spurs leading by as many as eight points, the Clippers leading by as many as six.
The Spurs went on an 8-1 run to pull ahead by five points, 97-92, with 5 minutes and 40 seconds left. Blake Griffin then made a pair of free throws and J.J. Redick made a three-pointer to tie the game, 97-97, with just under five minutes remaining.
Glen Davis was then put on the jumbotron. He proceeded to roar at the camera. The Staples Center crowed responded by standing the entire final five minutes of the game.
Paul was an unlikely game hero after sustaining a left hamstring strain in the last two minutes of the first quarter. The team said it was questionable whether he'd return.
He then checked back in the game with 6:27 left in the second quarter, and went on to finish with a team-high 27 points on nine-for-13 shooting from the field and six assists. He made five of his six three-point attempts.
The Clippers outshot the Spurs from the field, 52.6% to 48.3%, and from beyond the three-point line 51.9% to 40%. The Spurs outrebounded the Clippers, 46-43.
Blake Griffin had 24 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists. Matt Barnes had 17 points on seven-for-13 shooting, including making three three-pointers. Jamal Crawford had 16 points. Redick added 14 points.
The Spurs were led by Tim Duncan, who had 27 points on 11-for-16 shooting and 11 rebounds. Tony Parker had 20 points and five assists.
The Spurs have won five NBA championships, including one last season. The Clippers have never made it past the second round of the playoffs.
Spurs Coach Gregg Popovich offered a bit of perspective before the game.
"In this situation, one of us goes to Houston and one of us goes on vacation," Popovich said. "We'd each rather go to Houston, but vacation is not terrible. A lot of people have it a lot tougher than us. If those are your two choices in life, you should shut up and just live."
The Clippers open their second-round playoff series against the Houston Rockets on Monday in Houston.
The Clippers advanced to the second round of the NBA playoffs after defeating the San Antonio Spurs, 111-109, in Game 7 at Staples Center on Saturday night.
The Clippers will play the Houston Rockets in the Western Conference semifinals.
Chris Paul had five points in the first three and a half minutes of the fourth quarter after making jumper with 8:28 left to put the Clippers up, 88-87. Paul leads all scorers with 23 points on eight-for-10 shooting. He's made five of his six three-point attempts.
The first two minutes of the fourth quarter featured three three-pointers -- two of them made by the Spurs, one by the Clippers. A driving slam dunk from Matt Barnes tied the game at 84-84 with 10:06 left.
Clippers 79, Spurs 78 (end of third quarter)
With 7.8 seconds left in the quarter and the game tied, 76-76, Manu Ginobili was fouled from way behind the half-court line as he heaved the ball up in the air. The referees awarded him three free throws. He made two of them to put the Spurs up, 78-76.
Chris Paul then made a three-pointer with 1.1 seconds left to give the Clippers a one-point leading heading into the fourth quarter.
The Clippers led by as many as six points in the third quarter, their biggest advantage of the game, before the Spurs went on an 8-2 run to tie the game, 72-72m with four minutes left.
Paul, who sustained a left hamstring strain in the first quarter, opened the third quarter by making two consecutive three-pointers. He has a game-high 18 points on six-for-eight shooting and six assists. He's made four of his five three-point attempts.
Blake Griffin has 17 points, 11 rebounds and six assists. Jamal Crawford and Mattt Barnes each have 12 points. Glen Davis has six points and three rebounds.
Tim Duncan leads the Spurs with 17 points and 10 rebounds. Tony Parker has 16 points and four assists. Danny Green has 13 points, six rebounds and three assists. Kawhi Leonard has 11 points and six rebounds.
The Spurs went on a 5-0 run to cut their deficit to one-point, 65-64, with just under eight minutes left in the third quarter. J.J. Redick then made a three-pointer to put the Clippers back up by four points, 68-64, with 6:49 left, prompting Spurs Coach Gregg Popovich to call a timeout.
So much for that left hamstring strain. Chris Paul opened the third quarter by making two three-pointers to put the Clippers up by six points, their biggest advantage of the game, 65-59, with 8:45 left in the third. Paul leads the Clippers with 15 points on five-for-seven shooting, and has made three of his four three-point attempts.
Clippers 57, Spurs 55 (halftime)
Chris Paul sustained a left hamstring strain with just over two minutes left in the first quarter. He was taken back to the Clippers' locker room, and the team said it was questionable whether he'd return.
Paul then checked back into the game with 6:27 left in the half. He went on to make a fadeaway jumper and two free throws before halftime, and has nine points on three-for-four shooting from the field and a game-high five assists.
With 31.7 seconds left in the first half, Jamal Crawford made a three-pointer to put the Clippers up by four, 56-52. DeAndre Jordan then made one-of-two free throws with 21.1 seconds left to give the Clippers a five-point advantage, their biggest lead of the game.
Boris Diaw responded with a three-pointer to cut the Spurs' deficit to two points at halftime.
The Spurs are outshooting the Clippers from the field, 52.5% to 50%. Both teams are shooting 46.2% from beyond the three-point line.
Blake Griffin leads the Clippers with 13 points, six rebounds and two assists. Jamal Crawford has 12 points. Matt Barnes has 10 points.
Tim Duncan leads the Spurs with 13 points and five rebounds. Kawhi Leonard has nine points, four rebounds and one assist.
There were 17 lead changes and seven ties in the first half, with the Spurs leading by as many as eight points and the Clippers leading by as many as five.
Chris Paul checked back into the game with 6:27 left in the second quarter. He sustained a left hamstring strain in the first quarter with just over two minutes left and went to the locker room. Paul apparently is not going to let an injury stop him from playing in Game 7.
Chris Paul sustained a strained left hamstring in the first quarter and is questionable to return, according to the Clippers. He's back on the team's bench. That's a big blow for the Clippers.
Jamal Crawford made two consecutive jumpers to turn the Spurs' three-point lead into a 38-37 advantage for the Clippers with 7:21 left in the second quarter. Crawford has nine points on four-for-five shooting. Spurs Coach Gregg Popovich just called a timeout to talk to his guys.
Spurs 30, Clippers 28 (end of first quarter)
The Spurs led by as many as eight points in the first quarter before the Matt Barnes show happened. Unfortunately for the Clippers, they'll start the second quarter without Chris Paul.
Paul went to the locker room after sustaining an apparent left hamstring injury. Paul grabbed his left leg after making a three-pointer with a little more than two minutes remaining in the quarter. The team has not given an update on his condition.
Barnes made two three-pointers and two layups to cut the Spurs' lead to one, 19-18, with four minutes left.
Glen Davis, who sustained a sprained left ankle in Game 6, then made his first shot of the game, with three minutes left to give the Clippers a 20-19 advantage.
The Clippers went on to pull ahead by as many as four points before the Spurs closed the quarter with consecutive three-pointers by Patty Mills and Boris Diaw to retake the lead heading into the second.
Barnes leads all scorers with 10 points on four-for-six shooting, including making two of his four three-point attempts. Blake Griffin has six points. aul and Jamal Crawford each have five.
Tim Duncan leads the Spurs with nine points and two rebounds. Tony Parker has six points and two assists.
The Clippers are outshooting the Spurs from the field, 57.9% to 56.5%, and from beyond the three-point line, 57.1% to 50%.
Matt Barnes made two consecutive layups to bring the Clippers within one-point of the Spurs, 19-18, with four minutes left in the first quarter. Barnes leads all scorers with 10 points on four-for-six shooting, including making two of his four three-point attempts.
The Spurs have taken a 13-6 lead over the Clippers with 8 minutes and 30 seconds left in the first quarter, prompting Clippers Coach Doc Rivers to call a timeout. The Spurs are outshooting the Clippers from the field, 75% to 40%.
The Clippers and the San Antonio Spurs will play a winner-takes-all Game 7 at Staples Center at 5 p.m. PDT. The winner will play the Houston Rockets in the second round of the playoffs. Before the game, Spurs Coach Gregg Popovich offered a bit of perspective.
"In this situation, one of us goes to Houston and one of us goes on vacation," he said. "We'd each rather go to Houston, but vacation is not terrible. A lot of people have it a lot tougher than us. If those are your two choices in life, you should shut up and just live."
The Clippers forced a Game 7 by avoiding elimination in Game 6 with a 102-96 win in San Antonio on Thursday. Historically, the home team wins Game 7 nearly 80% of the time.
That stat can only be somewhat applied to this game, though, considering the Spurs have won twice at Staples Center in this series. And the Spurs have won five NBA championships, while the Clippers have never made it past the second round.
"They've been together," Clippers Coach Doc Rivers said of the Spurs. "They trust everybody, and everybody trusts each other."
Popovich said it's a shame that two teams of this caliber are meeting in the first round.
"It just seems odd that a team that wins 55 and a team that wins 56 plays in the first round," he said. "That's a tough, tough West."
Rivers said Glen Davis will play in Game 7 despite sustaining a sprained left ankle in Game 6.