The NBA playoffs had the greatest first round in memory, yet the second round has been another matter. The Oklahoma City Thunder and Los Angeles Clippers have had the most explosive second round series of the NBA playoffs, yet even that seemed ready to end early when the Thunder destroyed the Clippers to start Game 4 on May 11. But Los Angeles destroyed Oklahoma City at the end, erasing a 16-point fourth quarter deficit -- and a possible 3-1 series deficit -- for a 101-99 win.
After the Thunder's last two victories, a 29-7 lead in the first quarter of Game 4 looked like the death blow for the Clippers. Even when Los Angeles cut it to single digits, Oklahoma City built it back up before halftime. Once the lead got up to 16 with just over nine minutes left, it was doubtful the Clippers would play in the Staples Center again.
Chris Paul then chipped away at the lead and kept Kevin Durant at bay. Blake Griffin and Darren Collison took the baton next, as each scored double figures in the fourth quarter. It was Griffin who finally tied the game at 94-94 on a three-point play with under two minutes left, followed by Jamal Crawford giving the Clippers their first lead on a three-pointer.
Los Angeles extended the lead to 101-97 on two Collison layups, before Russell Westbrook got one of his own. With under 30 seconds left, Oklahoma City chose not to foul, despite having zero timeouts left. As such, when Griffin missed a layup with seven seconds left, the Thunder had to drive down the court, where Westbrook tried a three for the win instead of finding Durant. The gamble failed, as the Thunder wound up wasting their big lead and Durant's 40 points.
The Clippers were dead and buried, but instead forged the biggest comeback of the NBA playoffs and took momentum back. If the Donald Sterling mess didn't destroy the Clippers in the first round, the Thunder wouldn't have it so easy in the second -- and neither would the distraction of Sterling and his wife Shelly giving their first interviews this weekend.
The NBA playoffs have only one second round series living up to the billing, now that the Clippers are back in it. As a result, Game 5 now has even more hype and importance on May 13 in Oklahoma City.