Terance Mann scored a career-high 39 points and the Los Angeles Clippers advanced to a conference final for the first time in the franchise’s 51-year history, beating the Utah Jazz, 131-119, on Friday night.
Paul George had 28 points and Reggie Jackson added 27 to help the fourth-seeded advance to face second-seeded Phoenix in the Western Conference finals. Game 1 is Sunday in Phoenix.
Los Angeles won the final two games against the Jazz with All-Star forward Kawhi Leonard sidelined by a sprained right knee.
The Clippers trailed by 25 points early in the third quarter before rallying. It is the third time in franchise history the Clippers have trailed by at least 22 points in a postseason game and come back to win.
Mann helped fuel the rally with 20 points in the third quarter. Utah had a 94-91 lead going into the final 12 minutes, but Jackson gave the Clippers their first lead since early in the second quarter when his layup made it 96-95 advantage with 10:36 remaining.
Mann also was just the third player in franchise history to make at least seven 3s in a postseason game.
The Clippers had a 107-106 lead with eight minutes remaining before they seized control with nine straight points, including five by Mann. The closest the Jazz would get after that was six.
Donovan Mitchell led top-seeded Utah with 39 points. It is the second time in franchise history the Jazz have blown a 25-point lead in a postseason game.
Royce O’Neale added 21 for the Jazz. They had the NBA’s top regular-season record, but lost four straight for the first time all year.
Mitchell opened the second half with a 33-foot, step back 3-pointer to give the Jazz a 75-50 lead 24 seconds into the third quarter. It was 88-67 with 6:37 remaining when LA fought its way back by going on a 21-2 run to get within a basket with 1:42 remaining with 10 points from Mann and Jackson scoring nine.
A dunk by Royce O’Neale and Mitchell’s pair of free throws pushed Utah’s lead back up to six, but Jackson’s 3-pointer’s with 11.1 seconds remaining cut the advantage in half heading into the fourth quarter.
The first half saw 12 lead changes. Rajon Rondo’s layup with 9:17 remaining in the second quarter gave LA a 41-40 lead before Utah outscored the Clippers, 33-10, the remainder of the half to take a 72-50 advantage at the break.
The Jazz went on a 21-2 run that included 17 straight points by Clarkson, including a pair of 3-pointers.
76ers defeat Hawks, force Game 7 in Philadelphia
Seth Curry hit six 3-pointes and scored 24 points and the top-seeded Philadelphia 76ers avoided elimination in the Eastern Conference semifinal series by beating the Atlanta Hawks 104-99 in Game 6 on Friday night.
The 76ers overcame Trae Young’s 34-point effort to force Game 7 on Sunday night in Philadelphia.
Tobias Harris also had 24 points, making four free throws in the final 13 seconds to protect the lead. Joel Embiid added 22 points and 13 rebounds.
Young’s long 3, just before the shot clock expired, cut Philadelphia’s lead to 94-93. Embiid answered with a basket. Free throws by Embiid and Tyrese Maxey, who scored 16 points off the bench, pushed the advantage to 98-93.
Danilo Gallinari’s jam with 20 seconds remaining cut the lead to three points.
After rallying from deficits of 18 and 26 points in their last two wins, the Hawks finally started strong. Atlanta led by 12 points in the first period, and never trailed in the first half.
Atlanta led 51-47 at halftime. The 76ers opened the second half with a flurry of four 3s, including three by Curry, for a 12-0 run to open the second half that gave Philadelphia a 59-51 lead. The 76ers led by 11 at 68-57, following a jumper by Embiid.
Atlanta cut the lead to 80-76 entering the final period.
With Atlanta leading 92-84 with 4:03 remaining, Embiid was called for an offensive foul when guarded by John Collins. Embiid fell on top of Collins on the court and Collins then shoved the 76ers center before both rose to their feet. Embiid had his arms stretched out wide with Collins’ hands around his neck as both walked off the court under the basket.
Officials reviewed the altercation and called technical fouls on each player with no free throws rewarded.
After outscoring Philadelphia 40-19 in the fourth quarter of their 109-106 comeback win in Game 5, the Hawks took the momentum into the opening period of Game 6.
Collins’ jumper to open the game helped Atlanta score 10 of the game’s first 12 points. A steal and free throw by Kevin Huerter, who had 17 points, stretched the advantage to 12 points for the first time at 20-8.
A long 3-pointer by Young again extended the lead to 12 at 25-13.
Maxey’s strong play off the bench helped the 76ers recover. Maxey’s floater early in the second period tied the game at 29-all.
Bradley Beal, Devin Booker commit to Tokyo Olympics
Bradley Beal won a gold medal with USA Basketball 11 years ago, leading the Americans in scoring on their way to an undefeated run at the Under-17 world championship.
He’s looking for another gold this summer — on international basketball’s biggest stage.
The Washington Wizards guard has committed to playing for the U.S. at the Tokyo Olympics, according to a person with knowledge of the decision who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the team has not been revealed publicly.
Also Friday, the AP learned from a second person that Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker has given USA Basketball his commitment to play in Tokyo. That person also spoke on condition of anonymity because the team announcement is still spending. ESPN first reported Booker’s plans to be on the team.
It’ll be the first Olympic appearance for both players. Beal was a candidate for the team that won gold at the Rio de Janeiro Games in 2016 and again for the U.S. team that finished seventh at the Basketball World Cup in China two years ago. Beal wound up withdrawing from consideration in 2016 because of injury concerns, and in 2019 for family reasons.
The Athletic first reported that Beal had decided to play.
Beal, a three-time All-Star who was announced earlier this week as an All-NBA selection for the first time, averaged a career-best 31.3 points for Washington this season.
He joins a backcourt that will include Booker as well as Portland guard Damian Lillard, who said Thursday that he has several reasons for wanting to play — the chance to be coached by Gregg Popovich among them. Booker, who is headed to the Western Conference finals for the first time, averaged 25.6 points this season.
The U.S. is also expecting forwards Draymond Green, a 2016 Olympic gold medalist, and Celtics guard Jayson Tatum to be part of the Tokyo-bound roster.
Some top names, such as LeBron James and Jimmy Butler, have already decided not to compete this summer for a variety of reasons.
USA Basketball has been aiming toward filling the 12-man roster for the Olympics by the end of this month.
The Americans — bidding for a fourth consecutive Olympic gold medal — will convene for training camp in Las Vegas on July 6. They begin play in Tokyo against France, a strong medal contender, on July 25.
Nowitzki to assist in Mavs search
Dirk Nowitzki is joining the Dallas Mavericks as an adviser in the wake of the abrupt departures of general manager Donnie Nelson and coach Rick Carlisle.
The franchise leader in nearly every category said he considered Nelson and Carlisle mentors and wanted to do what he could to help the Mavericks find their replacements and build for the future.
Nowitzki, who turns 43 on Saturday, retired two years ago after playing one season with young superstar Luka Doncic. The 7-foot German set an NBA record by spending all 21 seasons with the Mavericks, leading them to the 2011 championship.