The Los Angeles Clippers lost a 19-point lead, and so much more.
ESPN is reporting that the Houston Rockets held the Clippers without a made shot in the last minutes in winning Game 6, 119-107, thanks to a 49-18 run in the second half, including dominating the fourth quarter, 40-15.
The Clippers, who led 64-62 at halftime and 92-79 after three quarters, suddenly went cold after Houston turned up their defensive effort. Corey Brewer and Josh Smith combined for 29 points for Houston, while MVP candidate James Harden sat almost the entire fourth quarter. Smith hit three straight three-pointers in the fourth, bringing the score to 102-97. Houston seized control of the game from there, and didn’t allow the Clippers to score a basket until almost the end of the game. The Clippers shot a woeful 18.9 percent in the fourth quarter, their worst effort in the NBA playoffs in 20 years.
The Rockets had never won a playoff game when they trailed by 10 or more points going into the fourth quarter, previously 0-49.
Dwight Howard led the Rockets with 20 points and 21 rebounds, after being in foul trouble most of the game. James Harden contributed 23 points before sitting almost the entire fourth quarter. Corey Brewer contributed 19 points, 15 of them in the fourth quarter. The Rockets hit seven three-point shots in the fourth quarter, while holding Clippers star Blake Griffin scoreless in the fourth quarter. Griffin finished with 28 points before fouling out of the game. Chris Paul led the Clippers with 31 points, 11 rebounds and 7 assists.
Just before the third quarter ended, the Clippers were up by 19 and seemingly in control. The Rockets scored nine points at the end of the third, which left the Rockets trailing the Clippers by 13 points going into the final quarter.
CBS Sports is reporting that neither team led by more than nine points in the first quarter. The Clippers dominated the first quarter after Howard picked up two early fouls. Harden breathed life back into the Rockets, scoring 17 points in the second quarter, after going 0-5 in the first quarter, bringing the Rockets back to only being two points behind at the half.
Once again in this series, it was the team that won the battle of the boards that won the game. In Game 6, the Rockets outrebounded the Clippers 60-41.
TheClippers’ fans in the Staples Center, once yelling in anticipation of the Clippers’ first ever trip to the NBA Western Conference Finals, sat silent as the Rockets went ahead 111-102 with 1:44 on the strength of a 23-2 run. Many Clippers fans started leaving with time left on the clock. Everyone else just sat, in shock and silence. Except for the Rockets.
Game 7 will be in Houston on May 17, 2015 at 3:30 PM EST.
[Image courtesy of CBS Sports]