By Shreyan Gorantala
On Thursday, the 26th of January, the Los Angeles Clippers and Washington Wizards faced off in the Capital One Arena (Washington Wizards stadium). With both teams struggling to find a win, with their star players missing, this game would end the team’s losing streak. But whose? With the Clippers missing their two-star performers, Kawhi Leonard, and Paul George, they were considered the underdogs. With the game hosted in Washington, the Wizards had a slight advantage going into the game.
At 5:30 am, the referee blew the whistle, and the game began. Washington came in focused, sinking every shot and dominating in their home. The Clippers tried to get back in the game, but the Wizards would immediately respond and keep their lead. By the end of the first 12 minutes of play, Washington had managed a 9 point lead against the Clippers. For Washington, Kyle Kuzma (traded in start of 2021-2022 season from Los Angeles Lakers) contributed to the 32 first quarter points, along with their star player Bradley Beal.
Things were in favour of the Wizards, and the Clippers fans hoped to see a change in the second quarter, but they witnessed a relapse of the first quarter. Washington were motivated by the crowd and their first-quarter performance, they came in hot and this time controlled the court, both offensively and defensively. The Clippers were in shock, as the Wizards were even better in the second 12 minutes, with the away team managing only 13 points in the second quarter, which was almost half the points scored in the first quarter. This just showed the confidence and determination the Wizards had to come into this game. The Wizards secured a comfortable 30 points at the end of the first half, scoring 34 points in the second quarter.
With the game halfway through, the teams had a fifteen-minute break, before starting the second half. Tyronne Lou, the coach of the Clippers, was furious and yelled at the players. He was also shocked by the team’s performance. He stressed the fact that the team did not coordinate and play the way Washington wanted instead of the way the Clippers wanted the game to be played out as.
The second half began, and now the Clippers needed a miracle to get back into this game, or even come close to winning. The Wizards were still informed, making a quick 5 points while the Clippers struggled to even get 1 point. It was a 35 point game, and the Clipper’s fans lost hope, but not the team. With the determination and heart to win the game, the Clippers fought against all odds to reduce the point deficit to a 17 point game, by scoring 40 points. The Wizards were shaken with the Clipper’s response and the rhythm had gone, and this was the only opportunity for the Clippers to get back in the game.
With the final 12 minutes of play underway, the Clippers continued where they left off in the third quarter, dominating 11 minutes, and reduced the game to just 6 points with 18 seconds left to play. Tyronne Lou motivated the team and made Luke Kennard, a three-point specialist, step into the court. With the trust from Ty Lou (nickname for Tyronne Lou), Luke Kennard hit a deep three to make it a 3 point gap. The pressure got to the Wizards, with them committing a 5 – the second foul, which is a foul where you don’t inbound the ball for 5 seconds. The Clippers called their last timeout to draw up their final play. The ball went to Luke Kennard, and with him hitting two threes in a row, he continued his streak with another three, as well as getting a free throw for a foul committed to him. The pressure did not affect the player, as for the first time in the game, the Clippers took a one-point lead, with 0.5 seconds left to go. That was the last basket, with the Clippers edging a miraculous 35-point comeback win, with a score of 116 – 117.
In the end, when interviewed Luke Kennard stated that the team never lost hope and that Ty Lou helped them concentrate and keep their minds solely focused on the game. Kennard was also excited with the result of his clutch points to win them the game.