At the end of a frantic Saturday filled with the most Game 7s in history, the Los Angeles Clippers and Golden State Warriors painted a masterpiece.
Both teams traded improbable baskets and exchanged monster defensive possessions before the Clippers rode out victorious, winning 126-121.
The Clippers core trio – Blake Griffin, Chris Paul and DeAndre Jordan – were the dominant force down the stretch, being responsible for key play after key play.
Griffin exuded power all night long, scoring 24 points, and overwhelmed Draymond Green in the paint to bully his way to the rim for two points that put Los Angeles ahead with two minutes to play.
It then befell DeAndre Jordan to make his own contribution. Stephen Curry drove inside only to see his meek layup effort swatted back to half-court by Jordan.
J.J. Redick swept up the ball, lobbing it up high for Griffin as Lob City exploded.
Curry drew a foul on the next play while shooting a three, converting the three free-throws but once again the Warriors could not get a stop and this time, the Clippers scoring on back-to-back trips.
First, Griffin scored a highlight-reel worthy layup as he was fouled, landing on his back on the baseline before executing a perfect flip onto his feet.
Following that DeAndre Jordan stuffed home an offensive rebound over the top of Draymond Green as the Staples Center crowd and Clipper bench realised the Warriors had been broken.
Doc Rivers, such a stoic figure amongst the tidal waves of emotion that have swept up his team this week, finally allowed himself to relax. The Clippers coach made his way down the sideline dishing out high-fives to celebrating players.
The win felt like a cathartic moment for a franchise now looking to get out from under the shadow of the Donal Sterling era. The NBA has announced it’s intention to appoint a CEO to run the team.
Golden State, for their part, put up the best fight of any road team in a Game 7 on Saturday and threw everything they had at Los Angeles.
Steph Curry had 33 points and converted the fourteenth four-point play of these playoffs in the first half before scoring a half-court bomb that was ruled a second too late after the half-time buzzer.
Chris Paul dealt with his hamstring and wrist injuries to score 22 points and dish out 14 assists as his aggressiveness allowed the Clippers to cause havoc in the half-court.
The Warriors also got inspiration from Jordan Crawford, who scored a clutch of points down the stretch when no other Warrior seemed like wanting to take control.
Los Angeles Clippers
Blake Griffin: 24 points, 10-18 FGS, 5 rebounds, 6 assists
Chris Paul: 22 points, 8-15 FGS, 14 assists
DeAndre Jordan: 15 points, 6-6 FGS, 18 rebounds
Golden State Warriors
Steph Curry: 33 points, 7-17 FGS, 16-16 FTS
Draymond Green: 24 points, 9-13 FGS, 7 rebounds
Klay Thompson: 15 points, 4-11 FGS, 7 assists
The Los Angeles Clippers win 4-3, will face Oklahoma City Thunder in Western Conference Semi-Finals.