Clippers stun Jazz with huge second-half rally to reach Western Conference finals for first time – USA TODAY
LOS ANGELES — The Clippers curse has faded. The Los Angeles Clippers finished with a 131-119 win over the Utah Jazz in Game 6 on Friday, which both clinched their second-round series and ensured their first Western Conference finals berth in franchise history.
The Clippers will face the second-seeded Phoenix Suns on Sunday, merely two days after dispatching the top-ranked Jazz who had finished with the NBA’s best record (52-20) while ranking in the top five on both offense and defense.
In their second game without star Kawhi Leonard because of a sprained right knee, the rest of the Clippers showed their fortunes do not rest on one of the NBA’s best two-way players. Terance Mann (39 points), Paul George (28), Reggie Jackson (27) and Nicolas Batum (16) all scored in double figures. They also played a key factor in chipping away at a 72-50 halftime deficit.
The Jazz still remained dangerous with Donovan Mitchell (39), Jordan Clarkson (21), Royce O’Neal (21), Bogdan Bogdanovic (14) and Rudy Gobert (12). But Utah imploded in the second half after leading by as many as 25 early in the third quarter. The Jazz held only a 94-91 fourth-quarter lead after the Clippers outscored them 41-22 in the third.
Just like the Clippers, the Jazz had become hobbled with injuries. Despite Mitchell’s stellar play, he appeared hobbled with a right ankle injury that had sidelined him for Utah’s final 16 regular-season games and its playoff opener. Mike Conley, who had only five points on 1-of-8 shooting, appeared in his first game of the series after missing the first five because of a right hamstring injury.