NBA

NBA Playoffs 2021: LA Clippers show trust in mounting 25-point comeback behind Terance Mann

Trailing by 25 points early in the second half the message from LA Clippers coach Tyronn Lue was simple.

"Just keep trusting."

In fact, trust was the theme of the night for the Clippers and it needed to be, with the team facing a huge deficit while already without superstar forward Kawhi Leonard in the lineup.

Fortunately for the Clippers, Terance Mann took on the mantra of trust to the full extent, exploding for 39 points in an individual playoff performance that will forever be remembered in Clippers history.

"I trust my work. When you trust in your work and trust in yourself you're not suprised when any of this happens," Mann told reporters.

"Me is me. Just playing my game, shooting the open shot, getting downhill, getting out in transition to get the easy ones and play defence. That's what I do, that's what I'm going to continue to do."

Connecting on 15 of his 21 shot attempts, Mann could hardly miss, particularly during a 20-point third quarter explosion that brought the Clippers all the way back into the contest.

"What was going through my mind was my assignment which was guarding Jordan Clarkson," Mann explained.

"Offence is going to take care of itself as long as you're confident in your game but I'm just thinking about trying not to let my man score, trying not to let them score."

Stopping the Jazz from scoring was a significant problem for the Clippers in the first half, with the No. 1 seed piling on 72 points in a 24-minute first half onslaught. When Donovan Mitchell buried a triple from well beyond the arc to start the second half, Mann was caught with a look of disbelief in his face, with the series seemingly destined for a Game 7.

"He hit that and I thought 'he don't wanna go home'" Mann admitted.

"That was my first thought but then I just had to lock in and do what I had to do. They were leaving me open so just shoot the open shot and try to will our way back in the game. Donovan is a great player, I've been playing against him since eighth grade, I've played against him at every level."

In the opposing locker room, Mitchell, who finished with 39 points of his own could only tip his hat to the newest LA star.

"I've played against Terance since middle school, he's always been a warrior," Mitchell said.

"He played his ass off, he got inserted into the lineup and he's been hooping ever since. He's good, he's really good and he showed it on the biggest stage and kind of won it for them in a sense. You got to give him his props, his respect."

The historic comeback played out in front of a packed STAPLES Center in LA, with the arena at full capacity for the first time since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"It was awesome. Walking from the court to the locker room was an amazing feeling. The place was packed finally, the first game the arena is packed and we gave them a prize like that, there's nothing better," Mann said with a smile.

While the return of Kawhi Leonard is unclear for the Conference Finals, Lue holds unwavering faith for this version of the Clippers, who have withstood absences from key players throughout the 2020-21 season.

"It's been happening all year. When guys go down, guys step up," Lue said.

"We talk about it, our coaching staff, just keeping the confidence. For him to come in a big game like this and step up, hit seven threes, it was huge for us. It was unbelievable to see that tonight."

Next up, the Phoenix Suns, as the Clippers try to extend what is already a franchise-best postseason run.

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