STAPLES CENTER — With the season on the line in a win-or-go-home Game 7, the Warriors are headed home.
Even with 33 points from Stephen Curry, 24 points from Draymond Green, a 12-point first-half lead, and 13 made three-pointers, the Warriors couldn’t get it done.
The Clippers advanced to the second round of the NBA Playoffs by winning Game 7 126-121.
Curry said when the buzzer sounded he knew the season was over. His first thoughts, he said, were of disappointment:
“I’m obviously frustrated, we fought so hard this whole series, this whole season to put ourselves in a position to advance in the playoffs. We weren’t satisfied with just being the sixth seed…its stings right now for sure.”
For the first 24 minutes the Warriors made it look like they could walk out of Staples Center with a victory.
Golden State finished out the first half shooting 58.5 percent from the field including 9-of-13 from beyond the arc. The Clippers chipped away at the Warriors lead and managed to tie the game with 3:49 left in the second quarter but every run Los Angeles made was quickly forgotten.
The Warriors looked like they couldn’t miss — Curry even banked in a half-court shot at the halftime buzzer but the shot was just a hair late.
After the Warriors built up a double-digit lead the Clippers came out of halftime as the aggressor, and midway through the third frame took their first lead of the game on a jumper from JJ Redick.
After the game Warriors head coach Mark Jackson said even though the season ended sooner than they wanted, he sees growth in how the players approached the games:
“I saw a tied-together group that did not look for an excuse, that battled, competed and left their tank on empty.”
The Warriors tied the game 77-77 on a rare Curry dunk with just over four minutes left in the third, but the Clippers were able to hold Golden State at arm’s length thanks to a 10-point quarter from Redick.
A contested three from Chris Paul put the Clippers on top 101-96. Fouls, jump balls, and timeouts halted Los Angeles from making long runs and the game stayed tight deep into the fourth quarter.
But with back-to-back buckets from Blake Griffin, and DeAndre Jordan rejecting a Curry runner, the Clippers had a three-point lead with 1:52.
Despite the Warriors pulling out all the stops in the final minute, the Clippers became the victors and will move on to play Oklahoma City in the next round which begins Monday.
Clippers coach Doc Rivers threw his fists into the air and high-fived commentators at the scorers table, yelling with the crowd as the final seconds ticked away.
Rivers said his excitement wasn’t for himself but for the players and fans:
“I just wanted them to get excited and exhale for a second, because all we have is a second, we play on Monday.”