Oakland, Calif. — Lou Williams led the Los Angeles Clippers to the largest postseason comeback in NBA history.
Landry Shamet hit a go-ahead 3-pointer with 16.5 seconds left, Stephen Curry couldn’t answer on the other end, and the Clippers somehow rallied from 31 points down on the road to stun the Golden State Warriors, 135-131, on Monday night and even their first-round playoff series at one game apiece.
The comeback topped a 29-point rally by the Los Angeles Lakers in the 1989 Western Conference semifinals over Seattle.
Curry scored 29 points and put the Warriors up 131-128 with 58 seconds left before Shamet’s dagger on a night the two-time defending NBA champions lost DeMarcus Cousins to a leg injury in the first quarter.
“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,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. “Just every single guy. I loved the end of the game.”
Williams tied the game on a jumper with 1:10 to play then Curry immediately answered. Williams scored again at 46 seconds and finished with 36 points and made 8 of 10 free throws in as the teams combined for 64 fouls and 76 free throws attempted.
“When I say we stopped playing, we stopped playing, like defense, offense, execution-wise we were not as engaged as we needed to be,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “We got exactly what we deserved. The Clippers were great. They executed, they were hungry, they stayed connected. They were together.”
Cousins injured his left quadriceps muscle in the first quarter and was done for the game, but Golden State’s depth shined and the Warriors built a 23-point halftime lead they pushed to a 31-point advantage failing to hold off Los Angeles late.
Williams’ jumper and three-point play with 5:34 left pulled the Clippers within 120-117 then he rebounded his own miss and scored the putback at the 5:05 mark and cut it to 121-119.
Kevin Durant drove through the paint past Montrezl Harrell for a one-handed jam and three-point play with 2:48 left, then went at Harrell the next time down and was whistled for the offensive foul. Durant fouled out with three straight offensive fouls.
Cousins was scheduled to undergo an MRI exam after the injury in just his second career playoff game following a nine-year wait. The big man returned in January from a nearly year-long absence following surgery for a torn left Achilles tendon.
His status for Game 3 on Thursday at Staples Center is in serious doubt.
Cousins hobbled to the locker room at the 8:09 mark of the first quarter. At the 8 1/2-minute mark Cousins stole the ball from Patrick Beverley in the back court and tried to retrieve the loose ball when went down in front of the Golden State bench and grabbed at his left quad.
LeBron James tweeted prayers for Cousins, who fouled out of Saturday’s 121-104 Game 1 win with nine points, nine rebounds and four assists in 21 minutes.
Kevon Looney picked up the bulk of the extra minutes in Cousins’ absence and scored a career-high 19 points making all six of his shots but the Warriors had their seven-game postseason winning streak snapped that dated to last year’s run to a repeat championship. Durant had 21 points, five rebounds and five assists, Klay Thompson scored 17 points and Draymond Green 14 with nine assists.
Curry followed up a 38-point performance in Game 1 to give him the most 3s in postseason history with another nice showing but Golden State hurt itself with too many miscues.
The Warriors committed 21 turnovers in Game 1, then 22 more Monday — nine by Durant.
“We let our guard down. We weren’t the aggressors anymore. We didn’t deserve to win that game,” Thompson said.
Los Angeles wanted to do a better job stopping the late bursts each quarter the Warriors had in Game 1, and the Clippers were somehow able to claw their way back.
Both coaches challenged their teams to be more poised in Game 2 following the ejections of Beverley and Durant in the opener. Beverley again pushed the limits but the sides avoided a testy encore, and he fouled out with 4:33 to go to roaring cheers from the sellout crowd. Durant left at 1:21.
►(At) Philadelphia 145, Brooklyn 123: Ben Simmons had 18 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds and the 76ers had an answer for the pesky Nets in a win to even their Eastern Conference playoff series.
Simmons had a disastrous Game 1, on the court (nine points) and from a PR perspective after he criticized fans for booing during a game the Sixers were never really in. He backtracked the next day at practice and never gave another 20,591 fans a chance to do anything but roar in approval in Game 2. Simmons flashed the All-Star form that helped lead the Sixers to 51 wins, and was aggressive from tipoff. He used his size and speed to attack the lane and scored 16 points in the half — and then put the game away in the third.
The Sixers busted the game open with a 14-0 run to start the second half and then stretched the lead to 20 on a Simmons steal and fastbreak basket. With a packed house standing, Simmons got a massive ovation when he cupped his hand to his right ear just like Iverson did in his prime.
Iverson and former Sixers teammate Dikembe Mutombo attended the game and tossed T-shirts into the crowd.