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Staples Center farewell: A look at the Clippers’ top moments

Clippers guard Terance Mann is hugged by teammate Paul George.
Clippers guard Terance Mann is hugged by teammate Paul George after scoring against the Jazz while drawing a foul. Mann would finish with a career-high 39 points in the series-clinching win.
(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)
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For the first time since it opened in 1999, the sports venue in downtown Los Angeles will have a name other than Staples Center. Starting Saturday, it will be known as Crypto.com Arena, as part of a 20-year deal between the Singapore cryptocurrency exchange and AEG.

To commemorate the end of an era, our writers have compiled their top 10 Staples Center moments for each of the teams — the Lakers, Clippers, Sparks and Kings — that call the building home.

Today: the Clippers

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June 18, 2021

Behind Terance Mann’s career-high 39 points, the Clippers overcame a 25-point, second-half deficit to defeat the Utah Jazz in Game 6 to earn their first trip to the Western Conference finals. The Clippers became the first team in postseason history to fall behind 0-2 in consecutive series and win.

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May 2, 2015

Chris Paul returned from a hamstring injury to make a series-winning jumper in Game 7 against the San Antonio Spurs — the last playoff series the Clippers would win until 2020.

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Nov. 20, 2010

Blake Griffin, after sitting out his rookie season because of a knee injury, announced the arrival of his explosive potential with a pair of ferocious dunks against the New York Knicks — first on Timofey Mozgov, followed by a vicious spin move on Danilo Gallinari — to become the unofficial start of the best era of Clippers’ basketball.

Many more memorable nights inside Staples Center followed for Griffin: His 47 points on Jan. 17, 2011, remain the most scored by a Clipper in the arena. One month later, he jumped over a parked Kia to win the NBA’s All-Star slam dunk contest. And in 2019, in his return as an opponent for the first time, he ran past team owner Steve Ballmer’s attempt at a handshake during warmups and went on to score 45 points for Detroit.

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April 29, 2014

On the day then-owner Donald Sterling was banned from the NBA for life, the Clippers defeated the Golden State Warriors in a Staples Center stripped of advertisements because of boycotting sponsors. The Clippers would later close out the seven-game series at home, a win that was cathartic in the moment and has become historic in hindsight: Golden State hasn’t lost a seven-game playoff series to a Western Conference team since.

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May 1, 2006

The franchise finally earned a reprieve from its tortured (and virtually nonexistent) postseason history, with a Game 5 closeout of the Denver Nuggets that marked the franchise’s first playoff series win in 30 years, its first since it was renamed the Clippers and its first since the team moved to California.

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March 10, 2013

DeAndre Jordan caught a lob from Chris Paul and dunked on Detroit’s Brandon Knight, regarded by some as the best in-game dunk of the 21st century.

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June 6, 2021

Kawhi Leonard scored 28 in Game 7 to lead the Clippers past Dallas, who got 46 points from Luka Doncic — the only time in the series the home team won.

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Dec. 30, 2012

Staples Center was the backdrop to the Clippers’ 17th consecutive victory, a win over Utah that completed only the third undefeated month in NBA history, joining the 1971-72 Lakers and 1995-96 Spurs.

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March 7, 2014

Eight Clippers scored in double figures to beat the Lakers 142-94 — at the time, the worst defeat in Lakers history. Since 2011, when a trade of Paul to the Lakers was nixed by the NBA, only to approve a deal that sent the point guard to the Clippers, the Clippers are 30-9 against the Lakers.

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Jan. 15, 2018

This was the night that sparked a thousand (at least) Twitter jokes. No, there is no “secret tunnel” between the home and visiting locker rooms inside Staples Center, but there is a hallway Houston’s Trevor Ariza and Gerald Green used to enter the Clippers’ dressing room “to confront an opponent,” a league investigation found, after a contentious game featuring five technical fouls.

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Honorable mention

Nov. 2, 1999: In the first basketball game played at Staples Center, it looked as if the future had arrived for the Clippers as rookie Lamar Odom scored 30 points and grabbed 12 rebounds against Seattle in his NBA debut.

April 10, 2019: The Clippers celebrated the career of Ralph Lawler, his final regular-season game as the team’s play-by-play announcer after 40 years calling the franchise’s games.

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March 2, 2001: The Clippers posted a losing home record four times in their first five seasons downtown, making memorable moments scarce after moving into their new home in 1999 following 15 years in the Sports Arena. Yet behind Odom, Darius Miles and Quentin Richardson, one of the youngest rosters in the NBA became a cultural touchstone amid the losing, thanks to plays like a full-court sequence from 2001, when Sean Rooks’ outlet pass to a leaping Odom led to a nearly blind alley-oop lob to Miles.

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