The Clippers hit so many highs on the court this season, they couldn't stop now.
They outlasted the Golden State Warriors, 126-121, in a Game 7 on Saturdayat Staples Center to advance to the Western Conference semifinals.
Making the playoffs hasn't been a strong part of the Clippers' past. Neither has advancing when they got there. In fact, they've never made it past the second round.
But they will continue onward in a series that begins Monday at Oklahoma City. Game 2 is Wednesday. Games 3 and 4 are May 9 and 11 at Staples Center.
Chris Paul had 22 points, 14 assists and four steals as the Clippers pushed through an eight-point halftime deficit. Blake Griffin had 24 points and was solid on defense with three steals and three blocked shots.
DeAndre Jordan had 15 points and 18 rebounds and was everywhere in the final two minutes. He blocked Stephen Curry's shot, allowing J.J. Redick to find Griffin at the other end for a fastbreak dunk with 1:54 to play.
Then Jordan dunked in a rebound off Paul's miss for a 114-109 lead. Then he had a dunk off Griffin's feed.
Not to be ignored was Griffin blowing past Draymond Green to make a layup despite getting turned away from the basket on a hard foul by Harrison Barnes.
Curry had 33 points for Golden State, making all 16 of his free throws.
Of the many Clippers highlights this season was a franchise-record 57 victories before the playoffs, including a 48-point blowout of the Lakers.
They have a chance to make real franchise history if they can eliminate Oklahoma City. Another series that goes the full seven games could be awaiting them.
Clippers 87, Golden State 84 (third quarter)
It took a long time, excruciatingly long if you ask their fans, but the Clippers finally awoke against the Warriors in Game 7 of their first-round playoff series at Staples Center.
There's still a mountain of work remaining to advance to the second round of the Western Conference playoffs but they moved ahead of the Warriors after trailing by eight at halftime and 10 after the first quarter.
The Clippers took their first lead of the game, 73-72, on J.J. Redick's 20-footer with 6:01 left in the third quarter.
Redick had 10 points in the third quarter and the Warriors' surreal three-point shooting finally slowed down. They made only one of four behind the arc in the quarter.
Chris Paul had eight points and five assists in the quarter. He has 15 points and 11 assists in the game.
Stephen Curry and Draymond Green each have 18 points for the Warriors.
Golden State 64, Clippers 56 (halftime)
Golden State continued its sublime outside shooting and maintained a solid lead over the Clippers in Game 7 of their first-round playoff series.
The Warriors made nine of 13 from three-point range (69.2%) and didn't seem bothered to be seven-point underdogs and playing on the road.
Typical of the Warriors' night so far: Stephen Curry drilled a three-pointer and was fouled by Matt Barnes with 10.8 seconds left in the second quarter. Curry held out four fingers and pounded his chest.
Curry and Draymond Green each have 13 points for the Warriors.
Blake Griffin and Jamal Crawford each have 13 points for the Clippers, who have made only three of 11 (27.3%) from three-point range.
Golden State 32, Clippers 22 (first quarter)
The Clippers didn't exactly jump out to a great start in Game 7 of their first-round playoff series.
As if Golden State cared.
The Warriors took all the early momentum despite a flood of turnovers, riding a surprising 10 points from Draymond Green to a quick lead at Staples Center.
The Clippers couldn't stop the Warriors, who shot a ridiculous 72.2% in the quarter. Green made all four of his shots.
The Clippers were off to a poor start from the free-throw line, making two of five, and missed all five of their three-point attempts.
The Warriors committed seven turnovers in the first quarter after turning the ball over only eight times total in their 100-99 Game 6 victory Thursday.
Blake Griffin had seven points on subpar three-for-seven shooting for the Clippers. He had only one rebound in the first 12 minutes.
Coach Mark Jackson keeps pointing fingers. Not at his Golden State guys. At the allegedly nervous Clippers.
The Warriors' coach keeps saying all the pressure is on the Clippers, which is true for the usual reasons. They had the better regular-season record, they were the higher-seeded team in the first-round matchup (three vs. six) and they were the home team Saturday in Game 7.
Not that Clippers Coach Doc Rivers wanted to hear about any stress stacking up.
"Whatever. [Jackson's] been saying that for a while," Rivers said before tip-off at Staples Center. "I think what he's trying to say is, 'Please, my team, you've got to relax. It's all on them.' "
There are two keys to Saturday's game. Chris Paul's left thumb. And Chris Paul's right hamstring.
"He just can't get away from anybody offensively," Rivers said, more concerned about the strained hamstring than the sore thumb. "When you watch him in film, he really struggles where he's great on the [isolations], especially on the elbows, he just can't get away from anybody."
The Clippers have been trying to use more screens to free up Paul with limited success. Paul's defense was not affected as much, Rivers said.
Paul's numbers are down through six playoff games compared to the regular season. His scoring average has slid from 19.1 points in the regular season to 16.7 in the playoffs and his assists are down from 10.7 to 8.2 a game in the playoffs . His shooting accuracy from the field has dropped from 46.7% to 40.2%.
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