Anthony on LA: Can the Clippers complete another comeback?
Another week means another column, and this time is the last time. Well, at least until August.
And the Los Angeles Clippers are still alive.
No, they didn’t roll over and die after the series was tied two games to two against the Utah Jazz. And, no, they didn’t hide in a corner and cry after the Phoenix Suns went up three games to one.
It’s like that one scene in “Rocky 1” when Apollo Creed kept pounding Rocky with punches in round 14, and he kept taking hits around the turnbuckle while Mickey yelled for Rocky to stay down.
Clippers head coach Tyronn Lue might not be Mickey, but forward Paul George and company are most definitely Rocky Balboa — they simply don’t quit.
The Clippers have been down two games to none in all three of their playoff series this year. Each time, they’ve come back even when it would be easy to just quit.
Being down their franchise superstar Kawhi Leonard seemed like it would have been enough to eliminate the Clippers against the Utah Jazz in the second round. Like I said in my previous column, they still had a chance with the series tied at 2-2 and it came true, as they won the next two games.
With the Suns being up 3-1 and in charge of winning game five at home to seal the series, it was the Clippers’ time to hold off on the party in Phoenix.
George had yet another ridiculous performance to send Suns — and many Lakers — fans home in anger and me back to my computer to write a new column.
I was so sure the Suns would pull it out that I prewrote a column about the Clippers offseason. What a noob I am.
PG’s 41 points, 13 rebounds and six assists game proved to be enough to shut the loud crowd at Talking Stick Resort Arena up. Guard Reggie Jackson continued his lights-out playoffs with 23 points, along with forward Marcus Morris adding 22.
Jackson’s been having a playoff run that will bring him lots of dollars this offseason. He’s one of two players in NBA history to average 3+ three-pointers on 65 TS% in a single playoff.
The other being Steph Curry.
It was evident in Monday night’s game too. Jackson made the big shots whenever the Clippers needed them most.
When the Suns fought back to cut the Clippers lead to four with just under seven minutes left, Jackson proceeded to hit a three to answer back, then iced the game with a three and dunk on back-to-back possessions to extend the Clippers lead to 12 with four minutes left.
But the story of the game was one not seen on the stat sheet — the determination and heart of the Clippers. They clearly wanted the game more, diving for loose balls, making timely baskets and responding on every play.
Luck was involved too, of course. The Suns missed some easy ones, and it seemed like everything that could go wrong, would go wrong for them.
With this being said, you can’t take anything away from the Clippers. Whenever their backs are against the wall, they make sure to show up.
And Lue keeps them prepared and positive. With the win Monday night, Lue’s record in elimination games as a head coach moves to 10-2.
The question now though is if the Clippers can actually pull it off.
History and numbers are more on the side of the Suns in this case. Teams that are up 3-1 in the Conference Finals have won 40 out of 43 times.
Lue does have experience coming back from a 3-1 deficit of course. His Cleveland Cavaliers became the only team in NBA Finals history to do so after beating the Golden State Warriors in 2016.
The last time a team that beat the odds in the Conference Finals though?
2016. When Steph and Klay Thompson went berserk to bring the Golden State Warriors back — two players the Clippers do not have.
Nevertheless, it’ll be a battle and if the Clippers steal game six at home, anything can happen.
We’ll just have to see.
Anthony Gharib is a rising junior writing about all things Los Angeles sports. His column, “Anthony on LA,” runs every other Wednesday. He is also the sports editor for Summer Trojan.