May 12 2014, 2:17am CDT | by Poch de la Rosa
"Comeback victories are not foreign to the Clippers; they had several during the regular season. But when you rally from 22 points down in the first quarter and 16 down early in the fourth of a must-win playoff game, they don't get much better than that.
"To put it into perspective, the Clippers were down 29-7 late in the first quarter. They looked dead, like they might lose by 50. Staples Center, which took a while to fill up -- perhaps because it was Mother's Day -- was without energy."
The Clippers would then go on an 8-3 run -- with four points from Paul -- to close the gap to 32-15 at the end of the first quarter.
After the Thunder's Caron Butler made a step-back jump shot, Clippers forward Blake Griffin scored on a three-point play off a foul on Steven Adams to keep Los Angeles within 12, 38-26.
Oklahoma City would then miss its next three shots in the next two-and-a-half minutes. Paul and 2013-14 NBA Sixth Man of the Year Jamal Crawford would join forces during that span to orchestrate a 9-1 spurt that crept the Clippers closer at 39-35.
Ironically, the Thunder would go on a 9-1 run of its own over the next two minues, a run that was punctuated by driving layup from point guard Russell Westbrook to regain a double-digit advantage. They would maintain their 11-point advantage at halftime, 58-47.
The third quarter saw NBA MVP Kevin Durant scatter 11 of his game-high 40 points as the Thunder would maintain control going into the final period with a 75-63 score in their favor.
The fourth quarter was one for the ages.
After Reggie Jackson's jumper made it 82-66 with 9:19 remaining, the Clippers would slowly chip away at the lead. Paul scored six straight points toward the quarter's halfway point to keep Los Angeles within striking distance, 84-78.
Westbrook's running jump shot would give the Thunder a seven-point lead with just over four minutes left to play. However, the Clippers went on another 6-0 run capped off by Collison's dunk to make it 90-89 in favor of Oklahoma City.
Durant would counter with five points of his own while Griffin scored on a three-point play off a foul on Serge Ibaka for a 94-all deadlock, time down to 1:35 left in the game. After Paul fouled Durant, the league's new MVP would split his charities.
On the ensuing Clippers possession, Crawford nailed a three-pointer to give Los Angeles a two-point lead -- its very first of the game.
Collison and Westbrook would then trade baskets before the former missed a jumper with the Clippers holding on to a two-point lead. Collison then provided the insurance basket with a driving layup for a 101-97 lead with just 32.8 seconds left on the game clock.
Westbrook would make a layup for his 27th point of the game, trimming the deficit to two. The Clippers would milk the clock but Griffin missed a layup with 7.9 seconds remaining, giving Oklahama City one last chance to either tie or win the game.
Alas, Westbrook's three-pointer at the final horn missed. Series tied at two games apiece.
Clippers head coach Doc Rivers told NBA.com's Dan Arritt thought going small ball was the difference in the end. He said,"Jamal and DC (Collison) in that small lineup, that won the game for us. I'm not sure we ever used that lineup, but that group won the game for us."
On the other hand, Westbrook told Morales he's still confident the Thunder can win the series.
He quipped,"It's a tough loss. But it's a series, man. It ain't like we (lost the series). It's 2-2. We'll go back home and take care of business."
Game 5 will be at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City on May 13 with a 9:30 p.m. ET tip-off.
Poch de la Rosa
Poch de la Rosa follows all major U.S. sports: NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL and the NCAA. His favorite teams are the Colts, Braves, Pacers, Sharks and Irish, respectively.
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