The momentum shifted in a matter of minutes and the Los Angeles Clippers suddenly found themselves in the driver’s seat of making history.
Terance Mann heroically led the charge scoring a career-high 39 points and the Clippers overcame a 25-point deficit to defeat the top-seeded Utah Jazz 131-119 in Game 6 on Friday night at Staples Center, advancing to the Western Conference finals for the first time in the franchise history.
“I trust my work,” said Mann. “When you trust your work, you’re not surprised when any of this happens.”
“We know when Kawhi went down, probably thinking the same thing over and over again,” said Clippers coach Ty Lue. “Our team, I just tell you, they just don’t quit.”
The fourth-seeded Clippers will next face the second-seeded Phoenix Suns in the Western Conference finals.
Game 1 is Sunday in Phoenix. The Clippers had a 2-1 record versus the Suns this season.
Paul George had 28 points, nine rebounds and seven assists for the Clippers, while Reggie Jackson added 27 points and 10 assists.
“The cheers, the excitement, you felt the monkey off of the Clippers back as far as getting past the second round,” said George, who averaged 29 points, 9.5 rebounds and 4.8 assists in the series. “The playoffs are about grit and fighting back. Time after time we have shown that.”
It became the third time in the last 25 years that the Clippers completed a comeback to win a postseason game after trailing by at least 25 points, per the Elias Sports Bureau.
The Clippers are also the first team in NBA history to overcome multiple 0–2 deficits in a single playoff run.
“We’ve battled through adversity all year,” said Jackson. “This is a resilient group. This team is confident. We’re together. We’re a band of brothers.”
Donovan Mitchell had 39 points for the Jazz, making 9 of 15 shots from three-point range.
Mitchell scored 16 of the Jazz 33 points in the first quarter and held a narrow 33-31 advantage over the Clippers through 12 minutes.
Jordan Clarkson had all 21 of his points in the second quarter and outscored the Clippers 21-19 in the period. The run included 17 consecutive Utah points to extend a 21-2 run that ballooned to a 60-42 lead with 4:37 left in the half.
The Jazz led 72-50 at halftime and shot 58.7 percent in the first half, making 12 of 19 three-pointers, while the Clippers shot 30 percent from long distance, converting only 6 of 20.
However, Mann scored 20 third quarter points and the Clippers outscored the Jazz 41-22 to flip the entire momentum of the game.
The second-year wing made 15 of 21 shots from the field and became just the third player in franchise history to make at least seven three-pointers in a postseason game.
“You saw it. You saw a full complete game from a 2nd year player,” George said on Mann’s progression. “You saw him stretch the floor, you saw him defensively, you saw him rebound, you saw him muscle his way to the basket. He did it in the most crucial part of the game.”
The Clippers scored 81 points on 71 percent shooting in the second half and held the Jazz to only 45 points.
“I think our inefficiency early on in the third quarter turning the ball over, that led to a lot of baskets. And obviously in the half court they spaced us and moved it and had us on our heels,” Utah coach Quin Snyder said.
Utah held a 94-91 lead to end the third, but Jackson gave Los Angeles their first lead since early in the second quarter with his layup making it 96-95 with 10:36 remaining.
Mann then gave the LA a double-digit lead with a corner three-pointer that made it 116-106 with 5:33 and Utah had no fight left resulting in the 131-119 victory for the Clippers.
Terance Mann exits with a rowdy ovation after leading #ClipperNation with a career-high 39 points, punching their ticket to the WCF for the first time in franchise history! #NBAPlayoffs #LACvsUTA #Mann pic.twitter.com/BbBbdX4Iae
— Jarred Davis (@Jarreddaviss) June 19, 2021
“Our crowd was unbelieve tonight,” said Lue.” Even when we got down, they stuck with us tonight… We couldn’t have done it with our fans.”
It was a special night at Staples center as a capacity crowd was on display for the first time since the pandemic took place in America in March of last year.
“To finish a game like this, to make history like this, it’s special man,” said Beverley, who had 12 points for the Clippers.
Mann received a standing ovation while exiting with the game in hand and he embraced the moment in dramatic fashion while waving and cheering with fans.
“Just the whole night was special to be able to be in this arena and to fill that playoff atmosphere in my hometown, my friends, my family,” George said.