The Los Angeles Clippers on Tuesday became the NBA’s new comeback kings after Luke Kennard scored seven points inside the final nine seconds, including a go-ahead four-point play with 1.9 seconds remaining, to cap their return from a 35-point first-half deficit and stun the Washington Wizards 116-115.
Kennard hit a three-point shot from out of a timeout and then, after Washington committed a five-second violation, sank another three running to his right while absorbing a foul from the Wizards’ Bradley Beal.
Kennard made the free throw, finishing with 25 points and completing a rally that tied for the second-biggest in the NBA since the 1996-1997 season.
Beal was left to rue a fourth straight loss that dropped the Wizards to two games below .500 (23-25) for the first time this season.
Washington began the season 10-3, but are 13-22 since.
“What are we trying to achieve, honestly?” Beal asked. “What kind of a team are we trying to be? I think that’s my biggest question to all of us as a unit.”
Beal did not even expect that he would have to play in the fourth quarter, given that his team led by 30 at halftime.
He ended up scoring 10 of his 23 points in the period.
It was not enough to avoid finishing an eight-game homestand with a 3-5 record, or to quiet talk that Beal might be traded before the Feb. 10 deadline.
“I’m very well aware of how we’re playing and how other teams are playing and what my interests are,” Beal said. “And obviously I’m a big factor into that, too, in producing and playing well and performing, but I want to win. And we all know that. It’s just a matter of us doing it.”
Amir Coffey scored a career-high 29 points for the depleted Clippers, who pulled off a third rally from this month from a deficit of at least 24 points, following wins at home over the Denver Nuggets on Jan. 11 and against the Philadelphia 76ers on Friday last week.
They became the first team to accomplish that feat in a single season since at least 1996-1997.
“This January has been wild,” Coffey said. “You never know when the game’s over. Just play through the buzzer.”
“We kept chipping, chipping away,” Clippers coach Tyronn Lue said. “When we got to [within] 10, I was like: ‘OK, we’ve got a real shot, we’ve got a real opportunity here if we can get some stops.’”
In other games on Tuesday, it was:
‧ 76ers 117, Pelicans 107
‧ Celtics 128, Kings 75
‧ Nets 96, Lakers 106
‧ Pistons 105, Nuggets 110
‧ Raptors 125, Hornets 113
‧ Rockets 104, Spurs 134
‧ Trail Blazers 107, T’wolves 109
‧ Warriors 130, Mavericks 92
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