Not even a halftime performance by legendary hip-hop artist Too Short could help the Los Angeles Clippers stave off elimination again.
Entering their Game 6 matchup with the Phoenix Suns at home inside Staples Center, the resilient Clippers were undefeated this postseason when facing elimination. Each and every time their backs were against the wall and their championship aspirations were written off, the resilient Clippers would bear down and defy the odds.
That all ended on Wednesday night.
Facing elimination for the second straight game, Paul George was unable to replicate his 41-point performance in Game 5, and the Clippers lost to the Suns, 130-103 in Game 6, ending their season.
Former Clippers’ point guard Chris Paul had his best game of the series, scoring 41 points and eight assists for the Suns. Paul missed the first two games of the Western Conference Finals after testing positive for COVID-19.
For Paul, who once lost a series with the Clippers against the Houston Rockets when they were ahead 3-1, Wednesday’s victory was an exorcising of demons that have haunted him throughout his 16-year career. Paul will play in his first ever NBA Finals on July 6 in Phoenix.
Paul got plenty of help from his teammates. Devin Booker finished with 22 points, Jae Crowder led the team in scoring in the first half with 19 and DeAndre Ayton had 16 points and 17 rebounds. But each and every time the Clippers went on a run and got within striking range, Paul would take over and silence the crowd.
Despite the loss, the greatest season in Clippers franchise history is still considered a success. They reached the Western Conference Finals for the first time in franchise history, and everyone counted them out after Kawhi Leonard went down with a knee injury in the second round.
Without Leonard, nobody thought the Clippers could come back and beat the Jazz, the team with the NBA’s best record in the regular season. But they ran off four straight wins to steal the series despite the naysayers betting against them.
Against the Suns, they dropped the first two games of the series for the third consecutive time, but were able two win two of the next three, and were a last-second tip-in dunk by Ayton in Game 2 from sending this series to a Game 7.
So as the Clippers head into the offseason, watching the NBA Finals from the comforts of their home, they can hang their heads high and hope that Leonard will return to the team next season. Leonard can opt-out of his current contract with the Clippers and become a free agent at the end of the season.
Marcus Morris Sr. led the Clippers with a team-high 26 points and nine rebounds. George had 21 in the loss.
In addition to Leonard, the shorthanded Clippers were playing without starting center Ivicia Zubac who missed the last two games with an MCL sprain in his right knee.
Two nights after George’s fantastic performance in Game 5, it was another Paul’s turn to flip the script. Chris Paul matched George’s total with 41 points in Game 6, and was determined to get redemption against the team he spent six seasons with.
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