LA Clippers eliminated from playoffs after being scorched by Suns' Devin Booker
PHOENIX - The Phoenix Suns entered Game 5 against the Los Angeles Clippers ready to close out the first-round series. Although shorthanded without Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, the scrappy Clippers fought and clawed their way through all 48 minutes – ultimately losing 136-130.
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Kevin Durant and Devin Booker played the entire first quarter to get Phoenix off to a competitive start and still, the Clippers were up 70-61 at the half. Marcus Morris Sr. and Ivica Zubac had 10 points apiece, while Norman Powell led the pack with 16 points.
It seemed as though the Clippers were on track to take the series back to Los Angeles for a Game 6, even in the final seconds.
Norman Powell #24 of the LA Clippers shoots the ball against Deandre Ayton #22 of the Phoenix Suns. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Phoenix came out firing in the third quarter. Within minutes, the Suns managed to cut down their deficit to one point before they took the lead altogether. It was a diestrous turn of events for the Clippers, who ended the third quarter down 17 points.
Leonard and George could do nothing to help their struggling teammates who simply could not fill the offensive void with their two stars unavailable. Defensively, the Clippers also took a hit. Devin Booker seemed to get every bucket he wanted and ended the game with 47 points.
Another failed year in the 213 era
Clippers owner and billionaire Steve Ballmer is one of the most successful men in the world and it’s safe to say he does not enjoy losing.
Steve Ballmer. (Photo by Allen Berezovsky/Getty Images) (Getty Images)
The 213 era was supposed to be the best era of Clippers basketball – though many longtime fans will say the Lob City era will always hold a special place in their heart.
Members of Clipper Nation were excited and remember the exact moment in July 2019 they found out two-time NBA Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard was not returning to Toronto and was going to be a Clipper. Soon after, it was announced All-Star Paul George would be joining him in a blockbuster trade.
Finally, it appeared the franchise was on its way to start earning some respect and had all the right pieces to win its first NBA title. There was so much hype and hope with the franchise in the spotlight. However, since those big trades, the Clippers have come up short when it’s mattered the most.
The Clippers have been plagued by injuries and haven’t had a fully healthy playoff run since blowing a 3-1 series lead against Denver in the NBA Bubble amid the peak of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020. Longtime head coach Doc Rivers was fired and was replaced by Ty Lue.
The following season, the Clippers made it to the Western Conference Finals for the first time in franchise history, thanks to a monumental performance by Terance Mann in the semifinals against Utah.
Once reaching that major milestone, they had to do it without Leonard who suffered an ACL injury in that same playoff round against Utah. Paul George and company fought their way through the WCF but ultimately lost to the Phoenix Suns in Game 6.
Leonard ended up missing the entire 2021-22 season rehabbing his ACL injury and George was in out the rotation after suffering an elbow injury in December 2021.
That season, they lost the first play-in game against Minnesota with Paul George and the morning of the second play-in game, it was announced George had COVID and due to protocol, he was unable to compete. The Clippers were eliminated from playoff contention by a four-point loss to New Orleans.
This season, they were able to avoid the play-in tournament as the No.5 seed, winning a ticket straight to the playoffs. They shocked the sports world after taking Game 1, but could not keep up the momentum without Leonard in the lineup.
Russell Westbrook has been phenomenal and after Game 5, he shared words of wisdom for those who resonate with his story. He said after being traded by the Los Angeles Lakers, things began to look up for him.
For the Clippers, their season came to an end Tuesday night in the desert.
• Game 1: Clippers 115, Suns 110
• Game 2: Suns 123, Clippers 109
• Game 3: Suns 129, Clippers 124
• Game 4: Suns 112, Clippers 100
• Game 5: Suns 136, Clippers 130