Los Angeles Clippers

Paul’s Pulled Hamstring Carries Los Angeles Clippers To Conference Semifinals

The Los Angeles Clippers won a playoff series. Not only that, they defeated the reigning champion San Antonio Spurs. They also came back from a three-games-to-two deficit, having to win a game in San Antonio.

These are not Donald Sterling’s band of lovable losers. These Los Angeles Clippers mean business.

ESPN is reporting the Los Angeles Clippers defeated the San Antonio Spurs 111-109 in Game 7 of the opening round of the NBA playoffs. The Clippers, after beating the Spurs in San Antonio 102-96 on Thursday, set the stage for an epic contest between the long-in-the-tooth champion seeking another title and the young guns looking for respect.

After this series, the Los Angeles Clippers have that. Now, they want more.

The Los Angeles Clippers were led by Chris Paul, who scored 27 points, including a lofting shot over the Spurs’ Tim Duncan with one second left in the game to take the lead and eventually win. Paul scored 18 of his 27 points in the second half, and most of his 27 points after straining his left hamstring.

Paul had just stolen a pass and was going downcourt. Paul, in visible pain, grabbed the back of his thigh as he dribbled down the court and made a shot. He left the game, but came back a few moments later and willed his team to the victory.

Los Angeles Clippers coach Doc Rivers said Paul is “just a tough kid. He’s a street fighter. I mean, he really is. I love him to death because of his will.”

According to the Los Angeles Times, the game included 16 ties and 31 lead changes. The Spurs’ biggest lead at any point was eight, while the Clippers’ was six.

The game was worthy of a Game 7 contest. It was well-played and fiercely fought, with no unnecessary pushing or fighting. There were two teams trying to wrest victory to move on.

The Spurs took a five-point lead at 97-92 with five minutes, 40 seconds left. Two Blake Griffin free throws and a three-pointer by J.J. Reddick tied the game again at 97-97. The Clippers and Spurs then traded off leading for the rest of the game. The scene was so electric that the sell-out crowd at the Staples Center stood for the last five minutes of the game.

The Clippers denied the Spurs a chance at going for their sixth NBA Championship. The Los Angeles Clippers now have a chance to advance past the second round of the NBA Playoffs for the first time.

Perhaps Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said it best.

“In this situation, one of us goes to Houston and one of us goes on vacation. 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 now travel to Houston to face the Rockets in the NBA’s Western Conference semifinals.

[Image courtesy of Streaming Foot]