The Warriors don’t like the Clippers. And they were mad at themselves for not bringing their best against bullies from down south, losing 126-115 at Staples Center.
“We had no business in this game,” coach Mark Jackson said. “But we fought. We battled. We hung in there. We just couldn’t get over the hump.”
The Warriors turned the ball over 25 times, something they knew was a no-no against the transition savvy Clippers. Their miscues, including a career-high 11 by Curry, helped the Clippers rack up 22 fast-break points.
The Warriors were beat down the glass, had a tough time staying attached to the Clippers’ shooters and had zero answer for Chris Paul. He torched the Warriors for 42 points, 15 assists and six steals in 37 minutes.
Yet, with six minutes left in the fourth quarter, Golden State was down just eight. Victory was close enough to smell, and not grabbing it left a bitter taste.
“Certain teams kind of have that edge about them, for whatever reason,” Andre Iguodala said. “They’re kind of one of those teams. Even playing in Denver last year, it was the same chippiness. So we kind of have to be smart about it. Neither team has really done anything for it to really be a rivalry. Somebody has to establish something. So we’ve got to stay focused on the path ahead.”
More on Thursday’s game …
Most Valuable Player (MVP)…
Stephen Curry. He scored 17 points in the fourth quarter, shaking off a turnover spasm to take over the game. Usually, the third quarter belongs to Curry. But this time, with the Warriors needing some magic, he went into playmaker mode. He was 6 of 9 from the field in the fourth, knocking down four 3-pointers. He also had four assists. The Warriors were 14 of 19 from the field in the fourth quarter.
Most Disappointing Player (MDP) …
Stephen Curry. Turnovers can be overrated. The modern point guard is not a floor general charged with only running the offense and getting the ball in the right hands. The play-maker types of point guards will take on more risk, draw better defenders, and are required to make something happen. Case in point, Chris Paul had six turnovers in what was a brilliant performance by him.
With that said, 11 turnovers is waaaay too many. Several of them were avoidable, Curry just being too loose with the ball.
“I’m not concerned about his shots,” Jackson said. “At the end of the day, I think he’s got to do a better job taking care of the basketball. And he’ll be the first to tell you that.”
Neither was it a good defensive performance from Curry. Chris Paul went at him early and it worked.
KEY MOMENT 1…
The Warriors led 19-17 with 5:27 left in the first quarter after Curry set up Lee for a fast-break dunk. That would be Golden State’s last field goal of the quarter.
The Warriors missed their next seven shots and turned the ball over five times. Paul took advantage by leading the Clippers on a 19-7 run to close the quarter. He scored nine points and set up four others. He also provided the highlight of the run.
He picked off a Draymond Green pass and started the break the other way. He had DeAndre Jordan trailing and most expected the lob. But Paul shocked the crowd at Staples Center and took it in himself for a one-hand dunk ahead of Green.
The Warriors trailed 36-26 after one.
The Warriors were one of the best rebounding teams in the league last year. Thursday, they got outworked on the boards (44-33). The athleticism of DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin seemed to overwhelm the Warriors frontline. Jordan alone had 17 rebounds. He and Griffin outrebounded Andrew Bogut and David Lee 27-11. The Warriors were led by Draymond Green on the boards (8).
Golden State gave up 16 offensive rebounds, which led to 18 second-chance points for the Clippers.
Another telling stat: the Clippers took 50 free throws. You read that right. They shot just 66 percent from the line and still racked up 33 points. The Clippers made as many free throws as the Warriors’ took.
Golden State committed 35 fouls. Many of them were bad fouls, too. Reaching fouls. Trying to be physical even though the refs were calling it tight. Getting played by Chris Paul’s okey doke moves. Several of Golden State’s fouls were intentional as they wanted DeAndre Jordan to shoot free throws (he was 3 of 12). But they were seriously undisciplined Thursday.
WHAT WAS THAT??? …
DeAndre Jordan back down Bogut, determinately banging into Bogut’s chest until he was right at the rim. He turned towards the middle for a layup and Bogut planted a hard foul, making sure Jordan didn’t get the shot off. Smart foul, considering Jordan is a bad free throw shooter.
But Jordan responded with anger. He turned around and shoved Bogut. Overreaction.
“I thought he followed through a little bit,” Jordan said, “and I want to definitely protect myself at all times.”
Bogut shoved Jordan back and a skirmish broke out. The two had to be separated. Based on Jordan’s reaction, Bogut must have hit him in the head or wrapped him up excessively. Nope.
Oddly enough, later in the game, Jordan grabbed Andre Iguodala on drive to the basket, swinging him around all to prevent an easy layup.
AT LEAST WE LEARNED …
That Harrison Barnes will have the green light with the second unit. With the way the Warriors’ bench looks on offense, the offense will belong to Barnes.
Jackson keeps going with three to four reserves at a time. Jermaine O’Neal, Marreese Speights and Draymond Green mostly, with Toney Douglas mixed in. It’s either been with Klay Thompson or Andre Iguodala. Either way, the group is offensively challenged to say the least.
Usually when the Warriors’ three goons are in — O’Neal, Speights, Green — the Warrriors look to post O’Neal or Speights. But it’s not working.
O’Neal was 1 of 6 Thursday. Speights 2 of 5. For the first two games, they are a combined 7 for 26.
KEY MOMENT 2…
Golden State, which trailed by as much as 16 in the first half, had cut the Clippers’ lead to 8 early in the third quarter. After a pair of free throws by Bogut, the Warriors trailed 80-70 with 5:37 left.
A foul by Toney Douglas led to a pair of free throws by the Matt Barnes. Curry then tried to hit Speights cutting to the basket, but Griffin intercepted the pass. He dished it to Paul on the 2-on-1 break, who lobbed it right back to Griffin for the dunk.
The next time, Curry trying to shake Paul off a screen, dribbled it off the foot of Speights. Paul tracked it down and, from half court, lobbed another alley-oop to Griffin for a two-hand fast-break dunk. Golden State called a timeout and Curry was benched.
Curry’s replacement, Douglas, had his pass picked off by Paul the next time down, starting a third straight Clippers fast-break. This time, Griffin took a lob from Paul and tomahawked it with one hand.
Just like that, Golden State was down 88-70.
COACH’S CORNER …
* The only questionable decision by Mark Jackson was starting the game with Curry on Chris Paul. With any other point guard in the league, I say give Curry a crack. But Paul presents too much problems for Curry. And with what he’s allowed to get away with, it’s only inviting trouble. True, Curry needs to be able to guard his man. But this is one of those times its probably best not to get CP3 going. Put a bigger guy on him from the outside, clamp down on the perimeter and make him become a scorer against someone he can’t push around. Paul had 11 points and six assists in the first quarter.
* As ugly as that second unit is, their tone proved beneficial twice Thursday. I don’t know how Jackson can stomach their offense, but it’s turning out to be a good call to change the tenor of the game. O’Neal, Green and Speights are physical and mean and they hack. They slow the game down, which works when the opponent is shooting upwards of 50 percent. Twice they pulled the Warriors into striking distance, grinding down the game even though they struggle to score.
* Gotta love how after the skirmish between Jordan and Bogut, Jackson immediately inserts Draymond Green. He doesn’t downplay the animosity. We don’t hear his speeches to his team, but I’d bet he’s playing it up.
He certainly didn’t shy away after the game when addressing his exchange with Blake Griffin.
“He was taking it out and bumped me twice. And I wasn’t going to take a third time. So …”
WHAT HE SAID …
“Right now, we’re uncomfortable with each other. But it’s not a dislike yet. Let’s all hope that it gets there, because that would mean that both teams have been playing very well and have probably gotten deep in the playoffs and had a great series. … Dislike is not all bad.” — Doc Rivers on the Warriors-Clippers beef
TRENDING TOPIC …
The talk before the game was how the Clippers refused to have chapel service with the Warriors.
Before every NBA game, a chapel service is held. It’s a single service held for both teams. But Thursday, the Clippers did not want to participate with Golden State so they made the chapel private. The Warriors had a different chapel time.
“They want to nitpick over something,” Chris Paul told the Los Angeles Times. “They just want to fight over something. We do it during the playoffs, so we did it during the regular season.”
KEY MOMENT 3…
Curry caught fire in the third quarter. After he and Draymond Green hit back-to-back 3s, the Warriors trailed 96-86. Then at the 10:03 mark, he cut the deficit to nine with another 3-pointer.
The Clippers responded with a 10-4 run to push the lead back to 15. But Curry went on a tear. He scored the Warriors’ next nine points, capped with a four-point play as he was fouled on a transition 3-pointer, leaving the Staples Center gasping.
The Clippers’ lead was down to 110-102 with 6:05 left.
That was as close as the Warriors would get.
“They’re an excellent shooting team, obviously one of the best,” guard Jamal Crawford said. “Stephen Curry, any time he shoots I think it has a chance to go in. They do a good job of getting those guys shots.”
BEFORE YOU GO …
Stephen Curry became the 5th player in NBA history with at least 3 games of 9-or-more three-pointers. The other four: Kobe Bryant, Ben Gordon, Dennis Scott and J.R. Smith. In his last two games at Staples Center, Curry has totaled 85 points on 57.4 percent shooting, including 18 of 29 from 3-point range.