LOS ANGELES -- Doc Rivers talked about it the moment Game 3 was over. He stressed it during practice the following day. And he once again drove the point home during his pregame speech to his team before Game 4.
If the Los Angeles Clippers were going to tie up their Western Conference semifinal series against the Oklahoma City Thunder and have any chance to win it, they had to play defense. They had to contest every shot and make life miserable for Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook.
None of that happened for the better part of three quarters Sunday as the Thunder jumped out to a 22-point lead in the first quarter and were up by 16 points with less than 10 minutes left in the game. But then the Clippers finally got the stops they needed and started playing the defense that was missing for the past two games.
The final result was one of the most surprising comebacks in recent playoff history, as the Clippers some way, somehow found a way to beat the Thunder 101-99. The series now moves to Oklahoma City for Game 5.
How it happened: The Clippers came out with next to no energy in the biggest game of their season. Just nine minutes into the game, the Clippers found themselves down 22 points. They couldn’t make a shot, couldn’t stop a Thunder shot and looked completely out of sorts. The Clippers were able to push the lead back down to four before the Thunder went into the half up 57-46. Oklahoma City started the third quarter strong and went up 15. The Thunder kept that lead into the fourth quarter before the Clippers mounted a surprising comeback, getting stops and scoring on 18 of 19 possessions during one stretch to take their first lead of the game in the final seconds.
What it means: The Clippers have tied the series 2-2.
Hits: Chris Paul had 23 points, 10 assists and five rebounds while Blake Griffin had 25 points and nine rebounds. Griffin had 10 points in the fourth quarter, and Darren Collison, who finished with 18 points, had 12 points in the final period.
Misses: Matt Barnes was 0-for-6 from the field and finished with zero points.
Stat of the game: For the first time this series, the Clippers outrebounded the Thunder (45-43) and dominated them in points in the paint (52-32).
Up next: The Clippers will take on the Thunder in Game 5 of their second-round series Tuesday in Oklahoma City.