Steve Ballmer breaks down the numbers behind the LA Clippers’ historic NBA playoff comeback win

Steve Ballmer, former Microsoft CEO, records an episode of the Numbers Geek podcast earlier today at his office in the Seattle region. (GeekWire Photo / Kevin Lisota)

With even more yelling and fist-pumping than normal, Steve Ballmer might not have seemed like an analytical guy to casual fans watching his LA Clippers come back from a 31-point deficit to defeat the Golden State Warriors in Game 2 of their first-round NBA playoff matchup earlier this week.

It was the biggest comeback victory in NBA playoff history.

But as listeners to our Numbers Geek podcast know, the former Microsoft CEO has a passion for numbers, as well. Earlier today, before recording a future episode of the show about the upcoming annual report on the U.S. government from Ballmer’s nonprofit civic data initiative USAFacts, we took the opportunity to have him analyze the stats from the Clippers’ historic win.

Listen to this short bonus episode below, or subscribe in your favorite podcast app, and continue reading for highlights from his comments, along with a copy of the box score from the game.

“We were down 73-50 at halftime and we won 135-131, which tells you we outscored the opponent by 27 points in the second half, scoring over 40 points in (each of the final) two quarters, which is essentially unheard of,” Ballmer said.

But “the thing that really flips is the shooting percentage” in the second half, he said. The Clippers shot 66.7 percent from the floor in the second half, and ended up shooting 56.5 percent for the game, vs. 53.3 percent for the Warriors.

The Warriors “had a major rebound advantage at one point” earlier in the game, but by the end of the game, the Clippers were at 34 rebounds vs. the Warriors 38 rebounds, “which was a big deal,” Ballmer said.


He added, “I would say the most important thing to take a look at, at the end of the game, was how many turnovers both teams had. Both teams had a lot of turnovers, 22 for the Warriors, 19 for us. I worry sometimes about us two ways. Turnovers and rebounding, sometimes offense, but mostly turnovers and rebounding. And we wound up pretty close to the Warriors on both sides. They had a couple more rebounds. And they also had a couple more turnovers, which means we both got about the same number of possessions. We just put the ball in the basket better.”

Of course, this was just one game. The series resumes Thursday night at Staples Center in LA with the teams tied at one game apiece.

Also check out our recent Numbers Geek episode, recorded at a Clippers game during the regular season, with audio from Ballmer on the baseline at Staples Center. We’ll be back soon with another episode of the show.

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