The Thunder led by as many as 22 points in the first quarter, and by as many as 16 in the fourth. By that point, with hope waning, Clippers head coach Doc Rivers had his own wrestling euphemism at the ready, per ESPN.com's J.A. Adande:
Doc Rivers: "We were almost on the mat and we got off of it. We didn’t get pinned."— J.A. Adande (@jadande) May 11, 2014
Rivers' inclusion of "almost" is what makes that so sweet. The Clippers almost lost. They didn't actually lose. They fought. They battled back from a late 16-point deficit to secure a 101-99 Game 4 victory, the significance of which is not to be understated.
If the Clippers lost, they would be down 3-1. Having dropped two in a row at home and three consecutive games overall, there would have been no comeback. As poor as the Thunder's late-game execution can be, they wouldn't drop three straight contests to a reeling Clippers team.
Fortunately for the Clippers, that massive letdown exists only in theory. They are now possibly the proud owners of this franchise's greatest win ever.
Maybe the biggest win in Clippers history.— Chris Palmer (@ChrisPalmerNBA) May 11, 2014
Instead of being on the "mat," they head back to Oklahoma City with the chance to regain the series lead. That's more important than anything—even this incredible comeback.
Game 4 will mean nothing if the Clippers don't use it as a launching point for something more, as Bleacher Report's Grant Hughes outlines:
For this game to mean anything, the Clips have to follow through.
The worst thing in the world would be for this monumental effort to represent a death rattle for an L.A. team that can't match the raw talent on OKC's roster. It's entirely possible that the Thunder spend the rest of this series playing like they did in the first three-and-a-half quarters of Game 4. Barring another late collapse, that'll be more than enough to take two more games from the Clippers.
For now, the Clippers can ride this high and enjoy this win. But they must do so knowing there is still work to be done, a series to win, an exit to avoid.
"I want a beer," Rivers said before starting his postgame press conference, per ESPNLosAngeles.com's Arash Markazi.
Nothing caps off success like a cold, refreshing glass of your favorite brew, but something tells me Rivers would settle for knowing Game 4's roller-coaster ride did more than prolong the inevitable.
Two more wins in three more games. That's what the Clippers are after.
Nothing caps off success like more success, after all.