A week like no other in Clippers history gets to last a little longer after the Golden State Warriors took a 100-99 victory over the Clippers on Thursday night at Oracle Arena in Oakland, sending the series to a winner-take-all Game 7 at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Staples Center.
The winner of Game 7 plays the winner of the Oklahoma City-Memphis series, which is also tied, 3-3. Game 1 of the next round will be early next week. If Oklahoma City wins, the series will start there. If Memphis wins, it will be at Staples Center or Oakland.
It wasn't a pretty game with both teams playing ragged and out of sorts. But, in the end, despite a lot of advantages, the Clippers couldn't exploit them to their benefit.
Warriors center Jermaine O'Neal left the game early in the second quarter when he collided with Glen (Big Baby) Davis and sprained his right knee. It left the Warriors short of big men. And things didn't get any better when power forward-turned-center David Lee fouled out with 9:44 left in the fourth quarter.
But, the Clippers still couldn't mount enough of a rally to win the game.
The Clippers did close their deficit to four points late in the fourth quarter, but a Blake Griffin foul on Andre Iguodala on a successful three-point shot made it a seven-point game with 2:31 left. Iguodala missed the free throw. It was Griffin's sixth foul of the game, sending him to the bench. Griffin finished with 17 points.
The Clippers were able to make it a two-point game and eventually one with 1.1 seconds to play after a Matt Barnes three-pointer. But Stephen Curry was fouled with less than a second to play and missed free throws, the second on purpose so the Clippers could not get an easy rebound.
Still, in the end, the game wasn't as close as the score.
Curry was the game's leading scorer with 24 points. Jamal Crawford led the Clippers with 19, followed by Matt Barnes with 18.
Warriors 70, Clippers 67 (end of third quarter)
Can the Clippers rally to close out the series or is the series headed back to Staples Center for a winner-take-all Game 7 on Saturday?
A spotty third quarter left a lot to be answered with neither team playing that well.
The Warriors were dealt some bad news when center Jermaine O'Neal did not come out for the second half after spraining his right knee in a collision with Clippers power forward Glen Davis. It left the Warriors with very few big men, an advantage the Clippers did not immediately exploit.
One Clippers big man was also missing, sort of. Blake Griffin had10 points on a dreadful 5-of-20 shooting from the field.
The third quarter started as pretty much a mess for both teams. Warriors guard Klay Thompson was trying to find his shot. Clippers point guard Chris Paul was trying to not let an injured left hand affect him. However, Paul had to alter his game when he picked up his fourth foul with 9:34 left in the quarter, sending him to the bench for several minutes.
It was as if each team was looking to make a run in the quarter but neither was playing well enough to do it.
The Warriors tied the score, 59-59, with 4:35 left in the quarter when Stephen Curry made a foul shot after Matt Barnes was assessed a technical. The Warriors took a 60-59 lead with 4:24 to play on an Andre Iguodala free throw.
The Clippers were struggling just to make any shot. Things then started to unravel in the final two minutes when they fell behind by seven. But a three-pointer by Jamal Crawford and a basket by Darren Collison closed the margin.
The Warriors were shooting 35% from the field and the Clippers 34%. Enough said.
Clippers 51, Warriors 48 (halftime)
The Clippers had to feel fortunate after the first half to be up by three, 51-48, given that they weren't playing that well.
The offensive rebounding was beyond bad as the Warriors held a 14-5 advantage, and when you combine that with eight turnovers you can see how lucky the Clippers are to hold a lead.
Now, the Warriors weren't exactly lighting things on fire, making only 17 of 52 shots (33%) from the field. The Clippers weren't much better with 14 of 38 (37%).
You know things are odd when Matt Barnes is the Clippers' leading scorer with 11 points. J.J. Redick had 10, Blake Griffin 8 and Chris Paul 7.
Stephen Curry was the Warriors' top scorer with 18 points.
The Warriors, already down to their backup center, were hurt even more when Glen (Big Baby) Davis crashed into the knee of Jermaine O'Neal, sending him to the locker room.
Then with 6:33 left in the quarter, Marreese Speights, the Warriors only remaining quality big man, picked up his fourth foul, sending him to the bench.
The normally reliable Clippers second team did not start the quarter well and the Warriors took a six-point lead with about three minutes gone in the quarter.
The Clippers continued to struggle to get Griffin involved in the offense, although he was the one that picked up the foul that sent Speights to the bench.
Once the starters got back into the game for the Clippers they took the lead, 36-35, after a pair of Redick free throws with 5:56 left.
The Warriors went back on top, 38-36, when Curry made a couple free throws with 5:05 to play. But a three-pointer by Redick gave the Clippers the lead again.
A Barnes three stretched the Clippers' lead to five, 44-39, but Paul picked up his third foul on the next possession and was sent to the bench.
The end of the quarter turned into a foul-shooting contest as the Warriors were fouling DeAndre Jordan, who lived up to his bad reputation at the line, while the Clippers kept fouling Hilton Armstrong, who also missed his shots. Jordan made only two of seven from the free-throw line.
Darren Collison, however, kept the Clippers strong at the foul line by making all six of his attempts down the stretch.
Clippers 25, Warriors 25 (end of first quarter)
If there was any question who would be the key for the Warriors in Game 6 of their playoff series against the Clippers, it was answered in the first quarter Thursday night at Oracle Arena in Oakland when Stephen Curry scored 14 points to help bring them back from a nine-point deficit for a tie after 12 minutes.
And what the Clippers need to do better is get Blake Griffin involved in the offense. He was one-for-three shooting from the field for only three points. Another area the Clippers need to improve in is turnovers, committing six to the Warriors' two.
The Clippers got off to a great start, going on a 12-3 run in the first four minutes.
With the score tied, 2-2, Matt Barnes made a three-pointer, followed by two free throws by J.J. Redick and a three-pointer by Chris Paul to give the Clippers a 10-2 lead. Curry came back with a three for the Warriors but Griffin and Barnes each scored before Warriors Coach Mark Jackson called a time out.
But what might have been more encouraging was the strong defense being played by the Clippers. DeAndre Jordan had two blocked shots and Griffin one in only four minutes. Jordan finished the quarter with three blocks.
The timeout seemed to work for the Warriors as they climbed back into the game by forcing four straight turnovers from the Clippers to close the score to 16-13. The Clippers kept trying to get back their rhythm by shooting three-pointers but that didn't work. They were only two of eight from long range with about 3 1/2 minutes to play in the quarter.
The Warriors tied the score, 16-16, with 3:28 left, forcing Clippers Coach Doc Rivers to call a timeout.
Things didn't change much the rest of the quarter, which ended with a Jordan Crawford put-back basket to tie the score, 25-25.
Barnes led the Clippers with eight points.
There have been few NBA playoff series like the one between the Clippers and Golden State Warriors. And that's not even mentioning the play on the court.
As Game 6 was about to tip off at Oracle Arena in Oakland on Thursday night, the controversy surrounding the comments of Clippers owner (for now) Donald Sterling have only slightly abated. Sterling was fined $2.5 million and suspended from league and team activities for life. Now the league's owners are discussing forcing him to sell the team.
But as all this has gone on, the Clippers have managed to take a 3-2 lead in this best-of-seven series. If Golden State wins Thursday, Game 7 will be played Saturday evening at Staples Center.
The game seem to have echoed the mood of the teams. The Warriors won a hard-fought Game 1 at Staples. They seemed happy to get a road split and were blown out in Game 2.
Back in Oakland for Game 3, the Clippers outplayed the Warriors and took back the home-court advantage. But, in Game 4, the first one after the Sterling news broke, the Clippers were lackluster and clearly distracted. This time they were on the other end of a blow out.
The Clippers bounced back with a strong effort in Game 5, and here we are to find out if they can win the series in Game 6. The winner of the series will play the winner of the Memphis-Oklahoma City series, which appears headed for a Game 7 with the Thunder leading by double digits midway through the fourth quarter.
The key players for the Clippers and Warriors tonight remain the same. Blake Griffin has to play up to his level to keep the Clippers in the game and Stephen Curry has to show some of the shooting ability he displayed during the regular season for the Warriors to win.
So, a close out or a winner-take-all Game 7? We'll know in a few hours.