Terance Mann scored a career-high 39 points, Paul George added 28 and Reggie Jackson dropped a 27-point, 10-assist double-double as the Los Angeles Clippers overcame a 25-point deficit to eliminate the visiting Utah Jazz from the playoffs with a 131-119 victory in Game 6 of their second-round postseason series on Friday at Staples Center.
The Clippers will be playing in the Western Conference Finals for the first time in franchise history after winning the best-of-seven series four games to two.
The season is over for the 52-20 Jazz, who finished with the league's best regular-season record.
Utah led 75-50 after Jazz shooting guard Donovan Mitchell's three-pointer opened the second-half scoring, but Mann soon caught fire, scoring 20 third-quarter points. L.A. had 11-0 and 17-0 runs in the third to cut Utah's lead to 94-91 by the frame's end.
In the fourth quarter, Mann and George scored all the points in a 9-0 Clipper run to give L.A. a 116-106 edge. Utah eventually slashed the lead to 118-114, but Los Angeles responded with a Jackson layup and a Patrick Beverley three-pointer to keep Utah at arm's length. Beverley later hit another three for a 128-118 lead to put the final nail in Utah's coffin.
L.A. scored 81 second-half points and had 31 points off turnovers to Utah's four. The Clippers also outscored the Jazz 21-7 on the fast break and hit 20-of-39 three-pointers, with Mann knocking down 7-of-10.
L.A. won despite missing Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard, who remained out of the lineup due to a right knee sprain that also forced him to miss Game 5.
Mitchell matched Mann's scoring output with 39 points. Jordan Clarkson scored all 21 of his points in the second quarter, and Royce O'Neale added a 21-point, 10-rebound double-double.
Jazz guard Mike Conley Jr. came back after missing the entire series with a mild strain of his right hamstring. He struggled in his return, shooting 1-of-8 for five points and six turnovers.
Clippers SG Terance Mann: 39 points
Clippers SG Paul George: 28 points, 9 rebounds, 7 assists, 3 steals
Clippers PG Reggie Jackson: 27 points, 10 assists, 3 steals
Jazz SG Donovan Mitchell: 39 points, 9 rebounds, 9 assists
Jazz SG Jordan Clarkson: 21 points
Jazz SF Royce O'Neale: 21 points, 10 rebounds
The Terance Mann Game
ESPN's Rachel Nichols said in a postgame chat with Mann and George that this night will forever be known as "The Terance Mann Game."
It's hard to disagree after Mann put the Clippers on his back by scoring 20 of his 39 points in the third quarter en route to one of the greatest comebacks in NBA history.
Mann was simply unstoppable anywhere on the court.
In the key, he overcame a double team from Mitchell and O'Neale and hit a tough layup:
From beyond the arc, Mann made the Jazz pay time and again, with Utah center Rudy Gobert noticeably having a tough time defending Clippers from three-point range:
He kept the pressure high as the Jazz lead kept falling, going coast-to-coast here:
But the three-pointer was Mann's biggest weapon, and he a few other big ones as Gobert stayed home in the paint:
Naturally, Mann's phenomenal effort received massive praise on Twitter:
The Clippers faced a tall order beating the Jazz after Leonard went down, but to their credit, the L.A. offense hasn't skipped a beat despite missing their scoring leader.
George was the Game 5 hero (37 points) before Mann took his turn in Game 6. Now the Clippers roll into Phoenix with a massive wave of momentum and confidence despite being shorthanded.
Jazz Complete Stunning Collapse
Utah finished third in defensive efficiency, per ESPN.com, en route to its league-high 52 wins. The Jazz also allowed the third-fewest points per game (107.2) and finished No. 1 in net rating, per Basketball-Reference.
Their roster sported the Defensive Player of the Year (Gobert), the Sixth Man of the Year (Clarkson) and a back-to-back All-Star (Mitchell).
Simply put, their collapse is stunning. They rolled into Los Angeles as winners of six straight playoff games, and a Western Conference Finals appearance seemed inevitable.
Instead, the Jazz proceeded to allow an average of 125.0 points per game to the Clips in four straight losses, two of which happened without Leonard.
A Gobert injury may have played a factor, as he revealed a midgame injury to reporters after the series loss:
Gobert did not appear to move well as the game went on, and the Jazz as a team also notably struggled with the defensive star on the floor:
The collapse goes much further than Gobert, however.
Clarkson didn't score any points in the second half. Conley had more turnovers than points. Joe Ingles finished with five points and a minus-18. No one had any answers for Mann, George or Jackson, who combined for 94 points on 35-of-61 shooting (12-of-22 from three-point range).
Ultimately, it was an epic and historical collapse, with ESPN Stats & Info providing some context:
ESPN Stats & Info @ESPNStatsInfo
The Clippers trailed by 25. <br><br>Tonight was the largest comeback in a series-clinching win over the last 25 seasons. Nobody had even come back from 20+ down to win a series in that span.<br><br>Entering tonight, the Jazz were 232-1 over the last 25 seasons when leading by 25+ points pic.twitter.com/aEos7yoqKK
Josh Eberley of HOOP summed up the team's performance well:
Utah was the best team in basketball for much of the season, and there are a ton of positives to take away from this year. However, the team will also have to do some soul searching after the four-game collapse, prematurely ending what could have been a banner-hanging year.
The Clippers will now face the Phoenix Suns for the right to represent the Western Conference in the NBA Finals. The Suns have home-court advantage in the best-of-seven series. Game 1 is Sunday at 3:30 p.m. ET in Phoenix.