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Clippers come from 16 down in the 4th quarter to take Game 4 from Thunder

May 11, 2014, 7:54 PM EDT

Darren Collison, Kevin Durant, Reggie Jackson Darren Collison, Kevin Durant, Reggie Jackson

LOS ANGELES – The Thunder jumped on the Clippers early in Sunday’s Game 4 matchup, and were out to a lead of as many as 22 points before nine minutes of game time had elapsed. They withstood runs that had L.A. within four in the second quarter, and back within eight late in the third after the lead had ballooned up to 15 once again.

In the fourth, Oklahoma City appeared destined to cruise to victory, leading by 16 points with under nine minutes remaining, with no sign that the Clippers would be able to figure things out in time to rally and avoid a three games to one deficit that would have all but sealed their fate in the series.

But the home team’s desperation paid off. L.A. used some small lineups as a last-ditch effort, switched Chris Paul onto Kevin Durant defensively, and got an incredible performance on both ends of the floor from reserve Darren Collison to put together an improbable comeback, and steal a 101-99 victory that evened the series at two games apiece.

“That’s desperate coaching,” Doc Rivers said afterward. “Yesterday as a staff we said Durant was beating us with his dribble. If you put a guard on him, you could make him more of a post-up player.”

The strategy worked to perfection in terms of disrupting the Thunder’s fourth quarter offense, which became stagnant at the worst possible time. There was too much Russell Westbrook, who was 4-of-10 shooting in the period, and when Durant did get the ball, often times he was trying to post up the much smaller Paul at the elbow, which created disastrous results.

That decision allowed L.A. to swarm Durant with double teams, usually with the speedy Collison coming over to help create chaos. Durant turned it over three times in the fourth, and the Clippers had 12 fast break points over the final 12 minutes — a huge reason for their success. In fact, 12 of L.A.’s 14 fourth quarter field goals came right at the rim, and many of them were uncontested.

Durant was in no mood to credit Paul for the defensive job he did in the fourth after such a disappointing loss, but there was some truth to his words that went beyond the clearly bitter taste in his mouth.

When asked what changed in the fourth after he was able to score 30 points through the first three periods on mostly good looks, Durant said simply: “Nothing. I scored in the fourth.”

He did indeed — 10 points on 4-of-5 shooting, to give him 40 for the game.

And when asked specifically to detail the challenge Paul presents defensively?

“He doesn’t,” Durant said matter-of-factly. “It’s not a one-on-one. When I catch the ball, they sent in a double team. When they sent the double team, they did a good job of crowding me and making me get rid of the ball. When it’s one on one, I got the advantage.”

Thunder head coach Scott Brooks had few answers postgame, saying only that he’d look at the film and make some adjustments, while commenting more than once on the game’s physicality. Rivers confirmed it’s not something the Clippers can do a lot of in the future and expect the same amount of success.

“Situational,” he said of matching up Paul on Durant defensively. “We do like it because of CP’s hands, he’s pretty strong. But I don’t like it because then you’re taking a lot out of CP. That’s not a matchup we are going to live with, I can tell you that.”

The part about not wearing down Paul is critical, because when things were at their darkest in this one, he’s the one who fought more than once to drag his team back. In the fourth, he scored six straight points to cut a lead that was then 12 to just six with 6:13 to play, before Collison took it from there offensively, scoring nine of his 12 points in the period from that point forward to continue the comeback, and help close the game out.

“Darren Collison was amazing today,” Paul said afterward. “I don’t think I’ve ever had a relationship with somebody like I have with D.C. because we both push each other and motivate each other. Maybe because I was a rookie with him in New Orleans. You just got to love a guy like that who plays with so much heart and never gives up. Game ball goes to Darren Collison.”

Collison was huge down the stretch, but the Clippers wouldn’t have gotten to the point where they had a chance at the comeback if it wasn’t for Paul’s grit, on both ends of the floor, that was present in just about all of the 45 minutes on the court. He finished with 23 points and 10 assists, to go along with five rebounds and four steals, while turning the ball over just once.

The Clippers stole this game from their opponent, and they know it; the desperation on the part of Rivers, Paul and Collison on their home floor ended up being enough to pull this one out. It’s not a scenario that’s repeatable for L.A., especially against a Thunder team that’s proven capable of generating big leads against the Clippers, and holding them for extended stretches.

Now with the series tied heading back to Oklahoma City, Rivers knows his guys can’t afford to get off to another slow start, and will need to match the intensity of an angry Thunder team from the jump in order to have a shot.

“They’re seething right now,” Rivers said. “They had an opportunity to go up 3-1 and now it’s an even series. We were almost on the mat and we got off of it. We didn’t get pinned. We’re back up and now we’re all even.”

  1. rrhoe - May 11, 2014 at 8:01 PM

    Too much standing around on offense,Scott Brooks got out-coached,plain and simple……

    • kb2408 - May 11, 2014 at 8:07 PM

      If OKC gets contributions from someone other than Russ and KD they are lethal. Today they didn’t get that. I don’t know if the blame goes to the coach but because we’ve seen this before I’m inclined to agree with you.

    • kavika6 - May 12, 2014 at 8:33 AM

      Imagine what Popovich could do with this team.

  2. limonadamas - May 11, 2014 at 8:01 PM

    And… the further the Clippers go in the playoffs, the more $$$ in the Sterlings’ pockets, whether or not they’re allowed to actually be in the arena. It’s a no-win situation for Clippers’ fans.

    • paleihe - May 11, 2014 at 10:50 PM

      As a Clippers fan, I want them to win. I don’t care if Sterling makes money off of it or not, as long as he’s not the owner in the near future.

      • limonadamas - May 11, 2014 at 10:52 PM

        That’s totally true. I agree, if they can get him out.

  3. kb2408 - May 11, 2014 at 8:03 PM

    Great game, great comeback by the Clips. By golly, they’re not the same ol’ Clips after all! This series looks like it might go 7 games. Darren Collison was magnificent. And CP3 is a freaking bull dog!

  4. antistratfordian - May 11, 2014 at 8:04 PM

    Thunderstruck. OKC pulled a Kenny Smith. Gotta run through the tape, homie!

  5. 00millerfortune - May 11, 2014 at 8:06 PM

    #ChampioshipOrBust

    #DoItForDonald!!

  6. coffeeblack95616 - May 11, 2014 at 8:08 PM

    Nice win

  7. ProBasketballPundit - May 11, 2014 at 8:33 PM

    Huge 1st half leads by a road team in the playoffs doesn’t amount to much. It never lasts. I’m not saying I wouldn’t want a 20 point lead but whenever that happens there’s 100% chance that the home team ties or takes a lead at some point.

    • apmn - May 12, 2014 at 8:06 AM

      Spurs had a 20 point lead at the half in Portland Saturday night. They never lost it.

      • ProBasketballPundit - May 12, 2014 at 11:13 AM

        Good point. I guess what I’m specifically referring to is in the playoffs when everything seems to go perfectly for a road team in the 1st quarter or even early in the 2nd quarter; all the 3’s fall and the other team couldn’t hit the water if they fell out of a boat. That’s the kind of explosion that the road team never sustains. Mostly because playoff teams are too good to be blown out at home but there’s just a feel to those games where you know things will swing the other way at some point. Then again the Spurs would be the exception; I believe Game 3 of the finals was like that and they just kept on dropping 3’s.

  8. abchome - May 11, 2014 at 8:35 PM

    Great comeback!

  9. charlessb - May 11, 2014 at 8:47 PM

    never want to hear that kevin durant is unguardable when he only scored 5 points with cp3 as his primary defender

  10. reastnt - May 11, 2014 at 8:54 PM

    Wow…. Wow. In the playoffs against a top-notch team, coming back from 22 down, 16 down in the fourth quarter?? What a game.

    Of course Westbrook would have put a dagger in their hearts if he had hit that three at the end. The Clippers shot too soon on their last possession. But an amazing final few minutes.

    This is a great series – I wish it could go 9 games!

  11. tmatic74 - May 11, 2014 at 9:06 PM

    Calling Mark Jackson.

  12. philyeagles5 - May 11, 2014 at 9:09 PM

    Collison won this game. Period.

  13. rodyaugu - May 11, 2014 at 11:17 PM

    No Durant, this is not a dream, your team really blew a 21 points lead, and you really got taken out of the game late by a 5’10 point guard.

  14. newyorkball82 - May 11, 2014 at 11:20 PM

    OKC was basically just letting a free lane open in that 4th quarter. It seemed like they were hoping the clock would run out faster if they just let the clippers score and try not to foul them. Really good job by the clippers in not giving up on this game. They deserve the win 100%

  15. urodaddy07 - May 11, 2014 at 11:38 PM

    This is why you gotta love a team like the Spurs. They move the ball, guys are constantly cutting, they make the right play, even if it doesn’t always work, they play the right way. So they put Paul on KD and doubled him once he got the ball, so its a 4 on 3 advantage for OKC right? Not if the only other person touching the ball is Westbrook. Why do they make the game so hard?

    I also don’t get why Lamb isn’t in the rotation. He played well in the regular season; i’d like to see him get a few minutes.

    • antistratfordian - May 11, 2014 at 11:59 PM

      “They move the ball, guys are constantly cutting, they make the right play, even if it doesn’t always work, they play the right way.”

      Sounds exactly like the Heat. But Tony Parker does take things into his own hands quite often. And sometimes Ginobili will just jack a three for no apparent reason – just because that’s what he wants to do. So, like any other team, they don’t always play “the right way.”

  16. ranfan12 - May 12, 2014 at 1:32 AM

    cp3 guarding durant wasn’t so bad after all lol.

  17. davecotuit - May 12, 2014 at 3:26 AM

    Greatest Clip comeback EVER!

    • jimsjam33 - May 12, 2014 at 10:39 AM

      Two years ago , in the first round against Memphis , the Clips came from 27 down in the fourth quarter in the first game . Nick Young went crazy shooting three’s and single handily put down the Griz . The Clips went on to win the series . Greatest comeback ever !

  18. ranfan12 - May 12, 2014 at 3:40 AM

    wtf was that play in last 40 seconds when okc lost all common sense

    • kavika6 - May 12, 2014 at 8:37 AM

      Westbrook. He has no common sense.

  19. imakcds - May 12, 2014 at 3:16 PM

    Blake picked up his 5th foul very early, yet, somehow, didn’t foul out. Not that he isn’t constantly taking his cheapshots and bull in a china shop tactics.
    Naw, why change when the NBA protects you?
    ANOTHER 7 game series, NBA Mandated.

  20. ufools - May 12, 2014 at 4:36 PM

    Imakcds…..you can complain all you want about the ‘bull in a china shop’ Blake….because us other fans are sick and tired of Durant and Westbrick flops on EVERY 3 point shot where someone is within 5 feet of them.

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