All the Clippers needed was just one more quarter in Game 6 on Thursday night to make their first Western Conference Final in franchise history. That's it. Just one more quarter. They were up by 19 points in Game 6 in the second half and they were at home against the Houston Rockets. They had the series lead at 3-2 (at one point they were up 3-1 in the series on the Rockets) and were getting set to face the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference Finals. Then, the fourth quarter happened.
Corey Brewer of Houston came through with 19 points, 15 of them in the fourth quarter of that game, as the Rockets forced a Game 7 with a 119-107 win. James Harden didn't even have his best game; he shot 5-for-20 from the field and scored 23 points. Eleven of those points came on free throws. Dwight Howard did pull down 21 rebounds in that game to go along with twenty points, so that was a big boost. Houston outscored Los Angeles 40-15 in the fourth quarter to bring it home for Game 7. What happened in that game?
The Rockets finished off the Clippers in yesterday's Game 7 by a score of 113-100. Harden had 31 points in that game while Howard had 16 points and 15 rebounds in that game. This is only the ninth time in NBA history that a team has come back from a 3-1 deficit to win the series. This instance was a bit different; the fourth quarter of Game 6 served as the turning point for the Rockets in the series and it's all thanks in part to Corey Brewer.
Houston will now face the Warriors in their first Western Conference Final since 1997, when they lost to the Utah Jazz in six games. This match-up between the two teams will see a myriad of three pointers; both Houston and Golden State were tops this year in the NBA in average three pointers made (11.5 and 9.9, respectively). In fact, the last four teams in the playoffs make up the top four in this category.
As for the Clippers, where do you place the blame? It might be easy to blame Chris Paul because he didn't have the best series. However, in those last two losses of the series, he had averaged 28.5 ppg and 10.5 apg. You could say that it was a team effort in this choke job. If they hadn't overlooked Corey Brewer in Game 6, none of this would've happened. Instead, all that will be remembered about this season for the Clippers is what could've been.