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Wizards blow 35-point lead vs. shorthanded Clippers in epic collapse

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And for the Washington Wizards' next trick, they will make a 35-point lead disappear.

Facing a significantly shorthanded but nonetheless scrappy Los Angeles Clippers team, the Wizards found a way to make a four-game losing streak even more embarrassing with the second-largest blown lead in recorded NBA history in a 116-115 loss.

At one point, the Wizards led the Clippers 66-31. By halftime, here's the situation the Clippers were facing:

  • Kawhi Leonard still had not played a game this season

  • Paul George had been out since Dec. 22

  • Marcus Morris was out of the game for personal reasons

  • Reggie Jackson, Ivica Zubac, Nicolas Batum and Serge Ibaka were sidelined for the second half

  • Eric Bledsoe would also stop playing midway through the third quarter

  • the team was shooting 29.5 percent from the field

  • the Wizards had a 99.6 percent win probability, per ESPN

The Wizards were facing a team basically down eight starters, playing quite possibly its worst half of the season. And then that team entered their nightmares.

Luke Kennard scores 7 points in 9 seconds

The Clippers still trailed 93-76 at the end of the third quarter and 102-91 with five minutes left, but they just didn't stop. Still, the game should have basically been over when the Wizards took a 115-109 lead with 11 seconds left.

The ensuing Clippers possession started with an off-target inbounds pass, which Luke Kennard hauled in near the halfcourt line. Rather than try to set up a play, Kennard launched a long 3-pointer when he realized his defender wasn't closing in.

The Wizards responded to that Kennard prayer with a five-second violation, leaving the Clippers with the ball and a chance to tie the game with 8.2 seconds left. Even that position should have been quite winnable for the Wizards, who just had to foul or otherwise prevent another 3-pointer.

I'd say you can probably guess where this is going, but the Wizards' ineptitude managed to exceed expectations. The Wizards fouled ... while Kennard sank a 3-pointer.

It doesn't get much worse than that, or much better for a Clippers team that has made absurd comebacks something of a habit at this point in the season. They erased a 25-point lead to beat the Denver Nuggets earlier this month and a 24-point lead to beat the Philadelphia 76ers last week.

Clippers head coach Tyronn Lue was certainly in a good mood, as this was reportedly his reaction to The Athletic's Law Murray as he walked to the locker room:

"RE-DO YOUR TWEETS NOW MOTHERF**KAAAA"

With the Clippers' entire starting lineup out for the second half, two-way player Amir Coffey led the team with 29 points on 10-of-21 shooting. Kennard had 25 points on 8-of-13 shooting (5-of-8 from deep) plus eight rebounds, six assists and zero turnovers.

Jan 25, 2022; Washington, District of Columbia, USA; LA Clippers guard Luke Kennard (5) reacts after making a three-point basket while being fouled late in the fourth quarter against the Washington Wizards at Capital One Arena. Kennard would make the free-throw to take a one point lead with 1.9 seconds left in the game. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports
The Wizards' loss to the Clippers was incredible in all the wrong ways. (Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports)