Clippers Stunning Collapse Against Kings

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A royal collapse.

The Los Angeles Clippers blew an 18-point lead with less than five minutes remaining as the Sacramento Kings stole a stunning victory, 98-97, on Sunday afternoon at Staples Center.

In what may go down as their worst loss of the season, the Clippers led 95-77 with less than five minutes remaining in the game before Sacramento went on a 21-2 run to complete the comeback.

Los Angeles missed their final nine field goals of the game, including a three-pointer by Chris Paul at the buzzer.

The crushing loss moves the Clippers a full game behind the Utah Jazz (two in the loss column) for fourth place in the Western Conference playoff picture.

The Clippers were playing on the second day of the rare back-to-back day games after defeating the Jazz just 24 hours earlier to take over the tiebreaker in the event both teams finish with the same record.

“We knew this game was going to be a fight,” said Clippers’ head coach Doc Rivers. “Second day of a back-to-back, both 12:30pm starts, and the final game of 8 in 12. We knew it wasn’t going to be easy.”

The Jazz and Clippers are currently seeded fourth and fifth in the Western Conference, respectively, with both teams likely to meet in the first round of the NBA Playoffs next month.

Los Angeles was sleepwalking through the first half, clinging to a 44-42 lead at halftime. They dominated the third quarter, leading by 11 points going into the final frame.

As the Clippers bench extended the lead to 18 points, coach Doc Rivers stuck with his reserves, but the Kings never surrendered, finishing the game on a 21-2 run with center Willie Cauley-Stein putting in the tip-back with 1.2 seconds left in the game to give the Kings their first lead of the second half.

“The blame goes all around on this one,” said a frustrated Rivers after the game. “Should I have inserted the starters earlier? Left the bench in? The blame goes all around.”

Sunday’s game was a tale of two teams headed in opposite directions as the Clippers continue to battle for home-court advantage after clinching their sixth consecutive playoff appearance on Saturday. 

Meanwhile, Sacramento is headed to the NBA Draft Lottery after trading away their All-Star center, DeMarcus Cousins, at the trade deadline. The Kings are currently 13th in the Western Conference and battling for a top-five draft pick.

Darren Collison scored 19 points to lead the Kings and Anthony Tolliver chipped in 15 points off the bench. 

A year ago, Kings’ guard Buddy Hield led his Oklahoma Sooners to the Final Four, a year later he scored 15 points against fellow Sooners alum, Blake Griffin.

Griffin finished with 17 points, six rebound and four assists for the Clippers. Chris Paul had 17 points and nine assists.

Clippers’ guard Jamal Crawford reached a career milestone in the game, surpassing 18,000 points in his 17-year NBA tenure.

Jordan was the most dominant player on the court for either team, finishing with 20 points and 11 rebounds, a double-double, his 35th of the season.

Up Next:

The Clippers face a tough test on Wednesday when the Washington Wizards head to Staples Center for a matchup of teams with nearly identical records.

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