The Los Angeles Clippers gave it all they had to extend their season at the Staples Center Friday night.
Kevin Durant just wouldn’t have it, though.
Durant was a man on a mission, as he finished with 50 points — 38 of which came in the first half –on 15-for-26 shooting to go along with six rebounds and five assists en route to the Golden State Warriors’ 129-110 series-clinching win. Durant went 14-for-15 from the free throw line.
Draymond Green did some heavy lifting as well, as he finished with a triple-double of 16 points, 14 rebounds and 10 assists to go along with four blocks. Stephen Curry turned in a solid 24 point, six rebound, six assist performance but once again didn’t seem like himself when he was on the floor. Klay Thompson managed just nine points on the night.
It was a night to forget from the Clippers bench; Lou Williams and Montrezl Harrell, who averaged a combined 49.9 points this series, managed just 18 Friday night. Williams finished just three-for-21 from the floor.
After a competitive first, some suffocating defense from the Warriors limited the Clippers to 22 and 25 points in the second and third quarters, respectively. Golden State outscored Los Angeles 67-47 in those two frames.
On a more positive note, Danilo Gallinari and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander led the way for Las Angeles, as they finished with 29 and 22 points, respectively. Gilgeous Alexander added five rebounds and six assists while Gallinari added five rebounds. Patrick Beverley nearly matched Green’s triple-double with one of his own, as he finished with 11 points, 14 rebounds and seven assists in just over 41 minutes.
Off Night from the Bench Dooms the Clippers
Williams and Harrell just didn’t have it Friday night.
After a spectacular Game 5 — and spectacular season — from both players, neither could get much going in Game 6. Harrell was deflated after some early foul trouble and was having trouble getting to the basket. Williams, meanwhile, couldn’t throw the ball in the ocean — the bounce he has become accustomed to just wasn’t there.
The rest of the bench wasn’t exactly spectacular, either. Outside of those two, the bench managed just 13 points. Wilson Chandler didn’t play for the second game in a row.
Had the bench been themselves, perhaps the Clippers would be on their way to a Game 7 bout. Alas, here we are. Still, they shouldn’t hang their heads — this bench unit was one of the best in the NBA and, while their season may have ended on a sour note
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander Reminds us that the future is bright
Even in the loaded Western Conference, Gilgeous-Alexander has the look of a future All-Star.
The rookie posted another great performance to end his often overlooked rookie season. While he didn’t make headlines like the Atlanta Hawks’ Trae Young or the Dallas Mavericks’ Luka Doncic, he is right up there with them as a future cornerstone. He finished the series averaging 13.7 points, 2.7 rebounds and 3.2 assists and on 46.7% shooting and 50% from three.
He averaged that line as a rookie. With an entire offseason ahead of him, it seems as if the sky is the limit for Gilgeous-Alexander. He’s certainly going to be fun to watch for a long time.
Respect for Patrick Beverley
Patrick Beverley gave everything he had. Not just in this series, but the entire season.
A year after Beverley missed all but 11 games due to multiple surgeries, he was a relative question mark to start the season. But, without him, the Clippers wouldn’t have been the surprise that they were this season.
His stat line was modest (7.6 points, five rebounds and 3.8 assists in the regular season, 9.8 points, eight rebounds and 4.7 assists in the postseason) but he was the epitome of what the team wanted to be night-in and night-out — one that busted their ass and outworked the opposition on both ends of the floor. That is his identity, and he instilled that on everyone he shared the locker room with.
A free agent to be, it’s hard to imagine that the Clippers let Beverley go anywhere, other than back to his locker in the Staples Center.
What’s Next for Jerome Robinson?
Jerome Robinson, for the third game in a row, managed to find minutes, a weird trend given he was glued to the bench for much of the regular season.
Robinson finished Game 6 with eight points and two rebounds in just over 14 minutes. While he wasn’t exactly productive — he was just two-for-five from the floor — Robinson displayed a confidence that wasn’t there for much of the year.
If he can use that as a springboard into a productive offseason, Robinson could find himself in the thick of the Clippers rotation this time next season.
Who Will be back Next Season?
The Clippers have a number of free agents this offseason: Beverley, Chandler, JaMychal Green, Garret Temple, Ivica Zubac (restricted). But which, if any of them will be back with the team next season?
Beverley may be the only player Los Angeles must retain — he was their heart and soul this season and just letting him walk wouldn’t exactly be great in the long run. Zubac was anything but impressive in the postseason, but he showed plenty of promise after he was acquired in a midseason trade and, at just 22-years-old, the Clippers would be fools to let him walk.
Jerry West isn’t a fool.
As for the others, things are far less certain. Green was impressive against the Warriors and certainly made his case for the team to keep him around — his versatility can be hard to come by.
Chandler and Temple, on the other hand, were both up-and-down in their short stints with the team, and both struggled mightily in the postseason. Barring a massive disappointment in free agency, don’t expect them to return.
An exciting offseason awaits Los Angeles
There are a lot of possibilities for the Clippers this offseason.
They have the cap space to go after a big-ticket free agent and the pieces to pursue another from the trade market. They were already projected to be an attractive destination, and their postseason push should only build on that — Kevin Durant and Kawhi Leonard are but a few names that they’ve already been connected to.
Combined with the current core, a player of that caliber would obviously launch Los Angeles into the upper-echelon of the NBA.
So, while the season may not have ended the way they wanted, expect some Clippers-related fireworks this offseason.
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