At one point the Los Angeles Clippers were up 18 in the second half. Then, all of a sudden, the Golden State Warriors are down one with three minutes left. The one thing you can never do at Oracle Arena is give the fans hope. If you give the fans hope, the players will rally behind the noise and go on a run. That is exactly what happened. Expect for it didn’t. The Clippers escaped. The Clippers stole the home court advantage back. The Clippers broke through the noise to take control of the series. How did that happen?
It happened because a man with an ailing right hamstring and a 100-degree fever came through when it mattered most. Yes, Chris Paul missed a free throw at the end of the game that could have pushed the lead to three with eight seconds left. Yes, this was the second time in three games that Paul missed a clutch free throw. However, that’s about the only fault you can find in his performance in the fourth quarter. With the Clippers up by one and three minutes left on the clock, Chris Paul did what he does best: make plays. He hit a jumper and a three on back-to-back possessions, which lead to a 7-0 for the Clippers. That pushed the lead to 8. Then, the Warriors clawed back into the game again only for Paul to drive to the lane and force a foul. Yes, he missed a shot. However, he made up for it on the last play of the game.
Eight seconds left. Steph Curry with the ball. If he hits a three the Warriors win the game. What happened? Chris Paul happened. Curry drove to the middle of the arc and launched up a potential game-winning three, only for it to end a foot short of the basket and fall gracefully into the hands of the Clippers for the victory. How did Curry, who is the best shooter in the NBA and one of the greatest of all-time already, put up an airball on the most important shot of the game? Because Chris Paul is one of the most tenacious defenders in the NBA right now. To say that Paul was in Curry’s grill would be the understatement of the week. Paul knew that Curry was going to take the shot. Hell, everyone in the world knew Curry was taking the shot. Paul just wouldn’t let him get it off. Yes, it potentially could have been called a foul because their was some contact. However, it’s only a foul if it gets called. It didn’t. The Clippers stole back home court advantage because Chris Paul refused to let his team lose.
The Clippers now have the advantage in the series and have the opportunity to push the Warriors to the brink with a Game 4 victory by the bay. The Clippers have done an outstanding job of containing Curry and Blake Griffin is playing like an MVP. However, if the Clippers are going to have the opportunity to close this series out at home in Game 5, they are going to need to shut down the Warriors early and demolish them like they did in Game 2. There is no way the Clippers are winning another game like that at Oracle Arena.
But, for now, the Clippers are sitting pretty. They can thank Chris Paul for that.
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