The Golden State Warriors suffered a stunning loss in Game 2 of their first round playoff series on Monday night, blowing a 31-point lead to the Los Angeles Clippers in a 135-131 defeat.
Rather than giving the heavily favored Warriors a comfortable 2-0 lead, the result tied the best-of-seven Western Conference playoff series at one game each.
Comeback Breaks NBA Playoff Record
With about 7:30 remaining in the third quarter, Golden State held a 94-63 lead and appeared to be cruising to victory. The Warriors were digging deeper into their rotation even with nearly 20 minutes left to play, and it appeared that the defending champions were, as predicted, having little trouble handling the Clippers in the first round of the postseason.
That’s when Lou Williams led the greatest comeback in the history of the NBA playoffs. Williams shot 13-for-22 to score 36 points while dishing out 11 assists, and hit two mid-range jumpers in the final 90 seconds to help complete the comeback.
“You’re competitive and you get lost in the game,” Williams told reporters afterwards. “Once you cut the lead to 12, you cut the lead to 10, then you realize you’ve got a game going. I’m one of those guys who can get hot.”
Even though the game finished late Monday, the incredible turnaround got plenty of attention, with social media jumping all over the Warriors for surrendering what seemed to be an insurmountable advantage.
Well actually https://t.co/XI32py0bfx
— The Ringer (@ringer) April 16, 2019
The comeback broke a record set by the Los Angeles Lakers in 1989, when they overcame a 29-point deficit to beat the Seattle Supersonics in the Western Conference semifinals.
Coaches: Spirit, Effort Led to Turnaround
According to Clippers head coach Doc Rivers, the win was a testament to the resilience of his players rather than any brilliant tactical decisions he made.
“We changed a couple things offensively and defensively in the third on the fly. It worked out for us. But I thought it was our spirit more than anything,” Rivers told reporters. “I loved the end of the game.”
On the other end of the floor, Warriors coach Steve Kerr felt like his team simply didn’t put the effort in that was needed to finish off the game.
“When I say we stopped playing, we stopped playing, like defense, offense, execution-wise we were not as engaged as we needed to be,” Kerr told reporters. “We got exactly what we deserved. The Clippers were great. They executed, they were hungry, they stayed connected. They were together.”
The loss of a game may not have been the worst news Golden State received on Monday night. According to an ESPN report, sources say that DeMarcus Cousins suffered a torn left quadriceps while chasing a loose ball early in the first quarter of Monday night’s game. That report said it was unclear how long Cousins might be out of action, or if he might need surgery to repair the injury.
But despite the shocking loss and the Cousins injury, the Warriors are still an overwhelming favorite to get through to the second round. William Hill lists Golden State as a 1/50 favorite to get past the Clippers, and gives the Warriors 4/9 odds of repeating as NBA champions this year.