Before the Clippers became kings of the epic postseason comebacks on Monday, the Lakers sat on the throne.
So when Hall of Famer James Worthy tuned back in late Monday night to the Clippers’ historic rally from 31 points down in the third quarter to snatch Game 2 of the Western Conference first-round series against the Golden State Warriors, the former Lakers forward smiled and reminisced about how such an amazing feat can be accomplished.
The Clippers’ 135-131 win over the Warriors pushed the Lakers’ 29-point comeback in a 97-95 victory over the Seattle SuperSonics in Game 4 of the 1989 conference semifinals to second best.
Worthy explained how those types of phenomenons take place.
“Unlike golf when you’re down two strokes, you hardly ever are going to get that back. But in basketball, it’s a game of moments,” Worthy said. “And it’s funny how momentum can take you to another level. It only takes about five minutes really to get the job done if you’re zoning in, especially on the defensive end.
“Now you got to be getting points off of both ends. If I’m not mistaken, I think the Clippers may have done that. They hit some big threes. Back when we made our comeback against the SuperSonics, we were getting points off our offense. You had to double Kareem [Abdul-Jabbar] and I, and we had [Michael] Cooper and Byron [Scott] shooting the threes. We were getting the threes and we were getting steals and running. It was about the pace of the game with us.”
Worthy saw many similarities between the Lakers’ and Clippers’ comeback wins.
He had 12 of his 33 points in the fourth quarter for the Lakers. Clippers guard Lou Williams had 29 of his 36 points in the second half.
Cooper was the tenacious, take-no-prisoners defender for the Lakers. Patrick Beverley is the in-your-face, unwavering defender and agitator for the Clippers.
“You could smell that blood,” Worthy said. “You know when you’re better than somebody. I’m not saying that the Clippers thought that they were better than Golden State, but they had the ‘Beverley Effect.’ When you have that kind of chemistry and cohesiveness, he’s the pulse. It was Coop for us. So when you feel that, sometimes you can act on it and they did.”
The Lakers scored only 12 points in the first quarter against Seattle, which relocated to become the Oklahoma City Thunder, and were down by 29 points twice early in the second quarter.
The Clippers trailed by 23 points at halftime and by 31 against the back-to-back NBA champion Warriors with 7 minutes 31 seconds left in the third quarter.
But both the Lakers and Clippers were undaunted and made playoff history in the process.