The star-less Los Angeles Clippers have done it again.
Two weeks ago, the Clippers erased a 25-point second-half deficit to beat Nikola Jokic and the Denver Nuggets at Crypto.com Arena despite being down both Kawhi Leonard and Paul George.
And on Tuesday night in the nation’s capital, the Clippers pulled off yet another huge comeback -- this time the biggest one in franchise history.
Wizards guard Bradley Beal made a pair of free throws with 1:20 remaining in the second quarter to put Washington up 66-31 over L.A. That 35-point lead was trimmed to 30 as the two teams entered halftime.
But the Clips put together a pair of 40-point quarters in the second half, outscoring Washington 80-49, as they came roaring back for an improbable 116-115 victory.
The Clippers’ latest comeback required some late heroics from guard Luke Kennard, as well as a couple of ugly blunders from the Wizards. Kennard knocked down a 3-pointer with nine seconds remaining to bring Los Angeles within three points. The Wizards then called a timeout but still had trouble inbounding the ball as they were called for a five-second violation.
Kennard capitalized on the turnover with another clutch 3 to tie the game in the final seconds, and he was fouled by Beal on the shot attempt. The fifth-year guard converted the free throw to complete the go-ahead four-point play and give the Clippers a historic comeback victory.
So where does the Clippers’ 35-point comeback rank among the biggest in NBA regular-season history?
What are the biggest comebacks in NBA regular-season history?
Los Angeles came up just one point shy of tying the biggest comeback in NBA history.
The Utah Jazz’s 36-point turnaround against the Nuggets in November 1996 has never been matched nor bested. Utah trailed the Nuggets 70-34 at home in the final minute of the second quarter. But, led by Karl Malone and Jeff Hornacek, the Jazz outscored the Nuggets 71-33 in the second half for a 107-103 win.
The Clippers’ comeback on Tuesday is tied for the second-biggest in NBA history with the Sacramento Kings. In a December 2009 game against the Bulls in Chicago, Sacramento overcame a 35-point second-half deficit to win 102-98. The Kings trailed 79-44 a few minutes into the third quarter and were down 19 entering the fourth. But a 33-10 advantage in the final 12 minutes helped Tyreke Evans and Co. stun the Derrick Rose-led Bulls.
The next-biggest comeback actually occurred last season, when the Boston Celtics rallied back from 32 points down late in the second quarter against the San Antonio Spurs. The C's tied up the game midway through the fourth quarter and outlasted the Spurs for a 143-140 overtime victory at TD Garden. Jayson Tatum powered the comeback win with a career-high 60 points
Los Angeles’ comeback was just the seventh time in NBA history that a team came back to win a regular-season game after trailing by at least 30 points. Here’s a complete look at all the comebacks of at least 30 points in NBA history:
1. Utah Jazz: 36 points vs. Denver Nuggets (1996)
T-2. Los Angeles Clippers: 35 points vs. Washington Wizards (2022)
T-2. Sacramento Kings: 35 points vs. Chicago Bulls (2009)
4. Boston Celtics: 32 points vs. San Antonio Spurs (2021)
5. Golden State Warriors: 31 points vs. Milwaukee Bucks (1975)
T-6. Toronto Raptors: 30 points vs. Dallas Mavericks (2019)
T-6. Los Angeles Lakers: 30 points vs. Dallas Mavericks (2002)