No one has ever been more excited about a trip to Oklahoma City.
On Saturday night at Staples Center, the Los Angeles Clippers narrowly edged out the Golden State Warriors in Game 7 of their first round playoffs series, and next up, the Clippers will face the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Entering the game, the Clippers and Warriors had each won three games in the series, and regardless of the outcome, the series would end on Saturday night in Los Angeles.
Following the opening tip, the Warriors appeared determined to pull the upset. Before Chris Paul and the Clippers could blink, the Warriors had doubled their score and led by six. The lead would grow to 10 points by the end of the first quarter, but seven Warriors’ turnovers in the opening 12 minutes allowed the Clippers to hang around despite the Warriors setting fire to the rim with 72 percent shooting.
In the second quarter, the Clippers managed to cut into the deficit and trimmed the lead to two points midway throught the second quarter. However, a late run extended the visitors’ lead back to eight points at the halftime intermission.
Following the halftime team talk, the Clippers finally managed to sustain momentum long enough to make the game competitive. Almost exactly six minutes into the second half, the Clippers took their first lead of the game.
From that point forward, it was anyone’s game.
Whereas the visiting Warriors’ fans had been arguably more enthusiastic than the hometown Clippers’ fans for the first 30 minutes, the sea of red shirts drowned out the minority yellow shirts in the crucial final 18 minutes of the game.
And the players responded.
In the fourth and final quarter, the Warriors and Clippers played about as entertaining a game as anyone could have ever imagined. Stephen Curry of the Warriors scored 14 points in the final quarter, and his production led the Warriors to 37 points in the final stanza.
Two points better, the Clippers’ offense hit its stride at the perfect time. For a team that only put up 22 points in the first quarter, the Clippers managed 39 points in the final 12 minutes.
When the final buzzer sounded, the scoreboard read 126-121 and a flight to Oklahoma City was on the Clippers' updated itinery.
“This team just needed this win,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said after the game, alluding to the offcourt drama surrounding the team and its owner. “I’m very proud of my players.”