Clippers’ Game 6 collapse among worst in L.A. sports history

first_imgLet’s face it, when it comes to Los Angeles sports, in a lot of ways we’ve been a bit spoiled.The Lakers have been the gold standard of the NBA for decades. The Dodgers haven’t won a World Series since 1988, but their illustrious past and perennial playoff contention make them the envy of baseball fans across the country. USC football has its ups and downs, but the decade under Pete Carroll was as dominant as any we’ve seen in college football. Throw in UCLA basketball, the Angels, the recent success of the Kings and the Galaxy … and we have it pretty good.But as the Clippers’ stunning collapse Thursday in Game 6 of the Western Conference semifinals reminded us, it hasn’t always been peaches and roses in the City of Angels. From time to time, we’ve had our hearts ripped out, stomped on and handed back to us in a crumpled mess.We felt the pain, shed the tears and tried to forget. But the devastating moments have a way of sticking with you. If the Clippers go on to lose Game 7 to the Rockets on Sunday in Houston following inexplicable Game 6 meltdown in which they squandered a 19-point third-quarter lead and got outscored 40-15 in the final period, we might look back on Thursday’s choke job as the single greatest swoon in L.A. sports history.Photos: Worst meltdowns in L.A. sports historyThe Clippers had a chance to push through to their first conference final in franchise history, and maybe change the narrative that they walk around with a perpetual black cloud hanging over them.Instead, they froze up, zoned out and fell so hard they actually strengthened the fear they might actually be cursed. Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Errorcenter_img The only question now is the level of devastation it will carry through history. The good new is the Clippers have a chance to render it a minor inconvenience if they can muster up the strength to win Game 7.The bad news is, when we analyze it alongside the great choke jobs in Los Angeles sports history, we can’t help notice the common thread in each magnificent meltdown — it either resulted in or preceded a stunning, bitter end to the season.And not to take a trip down Heartbreak Lane, but here is a list of the most memorable collapse jobs Los Angeles history — one the Clippers might actually top if their season comes to a close Sunday.5. Lakers vs. Celtics 2008 NBA FinalsWith a chance to tie the 2008 finals at two games apiece, the Lakers built a 24-point lead against the hated Celtics at Staples Center. With Game 5 looming in Los Angeles, everything was set up for the Lakers to take a 3-2 lead back to Boston with a chance to close things out in Beantown.Only it didn’t quite work out that way. The Celtics came charging back, erasing the big lead on their way to a stunning win to take a 3-1 series lead. The Lakers responded with a Game 5 win, but it simply delayed the inevitable as the Celtics blow-torched the Lakers in Game 6 to win the series.Ouch!!!4. Dodgers vs. Cardinals 1985 NLCSThe Dodgers win the first two games of the National League Championship Series, only for the Cardinals to come roaring back to take a 3-2 series lead after light-hitting shortstop Ozzie Smith’s ninth-inning homer off a worn-down Tom Niedenfuer in St. Louis. Still, the Dodgers take a one-run lead to the top of the ninth. But with two on and two outs, Dodgers manager Tom Lasorda lets Niedenfuer pitch to Jack Clark despite first base being empty. Clark clocked the first pitch into the left-field bleachers for a three-run home run, and the Cardinals win the pennant. 3. Dodgers vs. Yankees 1978 World SeriesThe Dodgers wallop the Yankees by winning the first two games, and who can forget a young Bob Welch striking out Reggie Jackson at Dodger Stadium? Then the inexplicable happens. Seemingly well on their way to avenging a loss to the Bronx Bombers in the 1977 Series, the Dodgers can’t catch a break. Graig Nettles starts making unbelievable plays at third base, Reggie Jackson hip-checks a Bill Russell throw to first into the outfield and the Yankees rally to tie the series at 2-2. New York goes on to win it all in six games.2. Lakers vs. Celtics 1969 NBA FinalsAfter years and years of suffering heartbreak against the Celtics, the Lakers get Game 7 at home at the Fabulous Forum and seemed poised to finally break the long spell against Boston. The Celtics build a 17-point lead, the Lakers come roaring back, and with Wilt Chamberlain benched by Lakers coach Bill van Breda Kolff, series MVP Jerry West makes a great defensive play, knocking the ball loose in the closing seconds. But it flies to Don Nelson, whose jumper bounces high off the rim and back through the hoop for the game-winning basket to give the Celtics their sixth straight finals victory over Los Angeles.1. Angels vs. Red Sox 1986 ALCSThe Angeles stand one out from reaching their first World Series in franchise history, a fitting gift to longtime owner Gene Autry. But with two out in the ninth inning of Game 5 of the American League championship series, and the Angels leading the Red Sox by a run and standing on their dugout steps ready to celebrate, disaster strikes. Ace relief pitcher Donnie Moore gets rocked for a two-run home run by Dave Henderson, stunning the afternoon crowd poised to blow the lid off the Big A. The Angels end up losing the game in extra innings and getting routed in the next two in Boston to blow a chance to reach the World Series. It will be years before they finally get there, and unfortunately it occurs after Autry’s death. Tragically, nearly three years after that forgettable Game 5, Moore shoots his wife and kills himself over personal problems that haunted him since that one pitch.last_img