Chris Paul walked off the court with 18 seconds left in game 7, saying his final congratulatory goodbyes yet again without reaching the NBA finals and coming up short in the NBA playoffs. Another playoff party went on without the Clippers, who completed their collapse Sunday with a 113-100 loss to the Houston Rockets in Game 7 of the Western Conference semifinals. Matt Barnes stepped out of bounds on the Clippers’ first possession of the game and things never got much better.
The Rockets’ lead grew from nine points in the first quarter, to fifteen in the second, to seventeen in the third. The mental strain of back-to-back losses in close games was apparent from the opening tip, as the Clippers committed seven turnovers in the first quarter, failing even to execute multiple inbound passes.
They would finish with 18 turnovers; six by Redick, five by Griffin. Redick, Barnes and Jamal Crawford combined to make 10 of 32 shots, including 5 of 19 three-point attempts. Their inaccuracy was an ongoing theme in a series in which the Clippers made only 32.9% of their three-point shots, down from 37.6% in the regular season.
Harden finished with 31 points and Ariza had 22 for the Rockets, who as the series progressed finally resembled the team that had won 56 games during the regular season. An article about DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin was written by us about the two stars being a dynamic duo, and I stand by this article still. They took over games and were superstars when Chris Paul wasn’t there.
But when he returned? They still played well and showed flashes of being brilliant. The downside was that they went from superstars without Paul, to just all stars with him. They took over the series with him on the bench.
With him? They looked like the same playoff Clippers game that couldn’t close out games, and that’s exactly what happened when he returned. They failed to execute and close out games late, and the madness continued as they dropped 3 straight games after taking a 3-1 series lead over the Rockets.
Call me crazy, but, if Chris Paul doesn’t play, are the Clips traveling to take down the splash brothers instead of going home? Would DeAndre and Blake have taken over? We will never know, but we do know one thing, this classic Clippers collapse will go down in history yet again.