LOS ANGELES (AFP) — Terance Mann poured in a career-high 39 points as the Los Angeles Clippers advanced to their first National Basketball Association (NBA) semifinals in franchise history, rallying to beat the top seeded Utah Jazz, 131-119, on Friday.
The fourth seeded Clippers won their four straight match after losing the first two in Salt Lake City to take the Eastern Conference series in six games.
Meanwhile, Joel Embiid and the Philadelphia 76ers played with more urgency, using a collective offensive effort to come from behind and force a game seven in their second-round NBA playoff series.
Tobias Harris and Seth Curry each scored 24 points and Embiid tallied 22 points and grabbed 13 rebounds as the Sixers overcame a double-digit first-half deficit to beat the upstart Atlanta Hawks, 104-99.
The Clippers stormed back in the second half on Friday after being down by 25 points in the third quarter to reach the league’s final four, ending years of playoff frustration including a string of NBA quarterfinal exits.
The 24-year-old Mann was electric in just his second career playoff start, shooting 15-of-21 from the field and draining seven of 10 three pointers in front of a crowd of 17,100 at Staples Center arena in downtown Los Angeles.
“I just trust my work,” Mann said.
“Everybody was telling me to shoot the ball and that is what I did.”
They next face the Phoenix Suns in game one of the Western Conference finals on Sunday.
Mann got plenty of help from the veterans on the team. Paul George scored 28 points and added nine rebounds and seven assists for the Clippers, who won despite missing their top player Kawhi Leonard.
“It feels great,” George said.
“They wrote us off when Kawhi went down.”
“He is one of the best young players I have been around,” George said of Mann, whose previous regular season high was 25 points.
“He reminds me a lot of myself.”
The Clippers made history without star Leonard, who missed his second straight game with a sprained right knee.
Reggie Jackson added 27 points and 10 assists while Nicolas Batum contributed 16 points and Patrick Beverley had 12 points in the win.
The Jazz got star guard Mike Conley back on Friday but it wasn’t enough to salvage their series.
Conley finished with five points in 26 minutes of playing time.
Donovan Mitchell, who was playing with a sore ankle, scored a team high 39 points, dished out nine assists and had nine rebounds for the Jazz.