Photo credit: Rocky Widner/NBAE/Getty
By Gabe Schapiro
The Golden State Warriors (17-13) and Los Angeles Clippers (20-10) claim that no rivalry exists between them, but Wednesday night’s tilt begged otherwise. In a very feisty matchup that included multiple technicals, two ejections, and much pushing and shoving, the Warriors outlasted the Clippers,105-103, at Oracle Arena.
Golden State came out of the gate slowly, and fell behind big early. At one point it looked like Los Angeles could run away with this one, after opening up a 13-point lead part way through the second quarter.
The Warriors woke up in the waning minutes of the first half, however, and began making a game out of it. They had reduced the 13-point deficit down to just two as both sides headed into the locker rooms.
The second half was a true heavy-weight battle. The lead traded hands countless times as the two California foes both got in their swings, sometimes literally. At the very end of the third quarter Draymond Green was ejected after a tussle with Blake Griffin. Just minutes later Griffin himself was ejected after earning his second technical, this time getting into a skirmish with fellow big man Andrew Bogut.
After the dust settled the two sides hunkered down for the final stretch. Neither side led by more than five points at any point in the fourth quarter. For several stretches the game turned into a point guard battle, with Stephen Curry and Chris Paul each taking their turns to pull their team back out in front with dazzling plays.
Paul has become known as possibly the NBA’s best closer. If true, tonight will go down as one of the few blown saves on his record. He was his normal brilliant self at times, but at the bitter end came up short multiple times.
With 1:08 remaining in the game, two Harrison Barnes free throws gave the Dubs a 105-103 lead. In the final minute Paul uncharacteristically missed a 9-foot jumper and a layup. He drove to the basket again with one second left only to have Klay Thompson come up with a huge block. On the final in-bounds play Jamal Crawford heaved up a long three-point attempt that just nicked the front of the rim as the buzzer sounded.
Curry was nearly a non-factor for much of the night as the Clippers blanketed him often, taking him out of the game. However he came up big when it mattered most hitting multiple big shots in the final 12 minutes. Despite he comparably down night for him, he still finished with a double-double. He had 15 points and 11 assists, to go along with six rebounds.
Bogut and David Lee also each contributed double-doubles. Bogut posted 10 points and 14 rebounds. Lee contributed 23 points and 13 boards. They are the first set of teammates to each have 10+ rebounds in 10 straight games since the 1978 New Orleans Jazz, when Rich Kelley and Truck Robinson accomplished the feat.
Thompson had his best game in a while, filling up the stat sheet. He tied for a team-high 23 points, and had four assists, five rebounds, two steals, and two blocks.
Barnes played some big minutes down the stretch, especially with the ejection of Green. He had 14 points and five boards in 25 minutes off the bench.
Paul had a game-high 26 points and 11 assists in the losing effort for Los Angeles. Griffin was having a fantastic game before his ejection, compiling 20 points and 14 rebounds. Deandre Jordan was a monster down low, posting 13 points, 13 boards, and six blocks.