For the first time this season, the Clippers hosted back-to-back matinee games over the weekend at Staples Center, overcoming a 25-point deficit in the fourth quarter, where they took the lead with under three minutes to play, only to surrender it right back, as L.A. lost a 104-101 thriller to the Miami Heat Sunday afternoon.
“We’ve got to carry this over,” guard Austin Rivers said. “That feeling that we had as a team that last quarter, we’ve got to feel that. And understand that if we play like that, we give ourselves a good chance every night.”
L.A. started the fourth quarter on a 16-0 run, holding Miami scoreless until the seven minute mark, swinging momentum the Clippers way entirely.
Having no other options, Miami sent Austin Rivers to the free throw line with 17.1 seconds to play, as the Clippers were up one, having a shot to push their lead to three.
Under immense pressure, Rivers missed both free throws giving the Heat possession, as James Johnson was then sent to the charity stripe, by a costly Blake Griffin foul with 8.7 seconds to play.
”It’s just really disappointing and frustrating, “said Rivers. “I feel like it’s my fault we lost the game.”
By no means did the Clippers and Blake Griffin mean to foul Johnson, as it was an unfortunate event that led the Heat taking back a one-point lead, with Johnson converting on both of his shot attempts.
L.A. had one final chance, as the ball was in the hands of Blake Griffin, while he was guarded on a switch by Miami’s Hassan Whiteside.
Griffin pump faked once, pumped faked twice but ultimately did not matter, as the Defensive Player of the Year candidate Whiteside caused Griffin to miss the 15-foot fade-away jumper.
“We got what we wanted,” said Griffin who finished with a game-high 23 points. “I thought I had a good look, I thought it felt good actually, but it just didn’t go in.”
“We got some work to do, we gotta be better, we’ll look at the film and just figure some stuff out.”
Miami forward Josh Richardson calmly hit two final three throws for the Heat, ending the game and the madness that followed, as L.A. outscored Miami 35-15 in the quarter, nonetheless, still not being enough to change their win column, but enough to see they didn’t give up.
“It shows you you’re never out of a game,” coach Doc Rivers said. “We didn’t make any changes as far as our schemes or anything like that. We just started getting stops. We started playing. We started playing together.”
Clippers got a great spark off the bench from Lou Williams, as he finished with 22 points, 13 coming in the fourth quarter when he led LA on their late run.
”The second unit saved us,” added Rivers. ”They were spectacular.”
The battle between the seven-footers was a fun sighting to watch as well, where both centers finished with double-doubles.
Hassan Whiteside stuffed the stat sheet with 21 points and 17 rebounds, while DeAndre Jordan had 10 points and 19 rebounds.
Clippers starting forward Danilo Gallinari left in the first half with a left hip contusion and did not return, as he is now expected to miss some games.
”I’ve been having pain the last two or three games and now it’s getting to the point where I’m having problems walking,” he said. ”I’ve got to take care of it.”
It does not get any easier for the Clippers as they prepare for more fierce competition, now being even more shorthanded without Gallinari and Teodosic still, going a three-game road trip to San Antonio, Oklahoma City and New Orleans.