Clippers led 89-70 with just 3 minutes remaining in the third quarter at Staples Center during Game 6 on Thursday. It appeared that Los Angeles Clippers were destined to finish off the Western Conference Semifinal Series against Houston Rockets by extending their 3-2 lead only in game 6. Till that point the Rockets’ tally was just 6 in the second half. But Houston had other ideas.
What followed shall be remembered by the sell-out crowd of 19,417 as one of the most surprising turn-arounds in NBA playoff history.
The Rockets finished off the 3rd quarter on an aggressive 11-5 run and reduced the margin. And it was Houston all over the court in the final quarter. The Rockets outclassed Los Angeles 40-15 in this period and clinched the lead on a spirited 22-2 run. The win will go to Franchisee’s history as the Rockets have lost previous 49 playoff games when they went to final quarter trailing by 10 or more points. Last time they pulled off such a sensational comeback was in 1995 NBA finals against Orlando Magic when they won a game after starting the 4th quarter 20 points behind. Moreover, the Rockets registered back-to-back wins here to tie the series 3-3.
James Harden scored 23 points, making 11 of his free throws and Dwight Howard notched up 20.
”We kept saying, ‘We’re not going to quit,”’ said Howard, who had 21 rebounds. ”We kept believing. We never gave up on each other.”
Corey Brewer scored 19, 15 of which came in the final quarter and Josh Smith added 14 of his 19 points in Houston’s dream quarter.
”That group just went out there and they just scrambled, they fought and they played their tails off on defense,” said Rockets coach Kevin McHale. ”They had a great sense about them that they were going to accomplish something.”
Chris Paul led the Clippers with 31 points and Blake Griffin added 28.
”We were trying to run the clock out and we stopped playing,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. ”We gave this one away.”
The Rockets was able to force game 7. The decider is scheduled on Sunday at Houston.