Photo credit: nba.com/warriors
By Jerry Feitelberg
The Golden State Warriors returned to action Thursday night against the vastly improved Los Angeles Clippers at Oracle Arena. The Clippers beat the Warriors at Oracle Arena the last time they played. Clippers’ Lou Williams knocked down 50 points that night, and the Warriors were determined to not let that happen again. The Warriors, behind Steph Curry’s 44 point performance, Thursday night sent the Clippers down to defeat, 134-127, but it was not easy.
The Clippers started poorly this year, but after the trade that sent Blake Griffin to Detroit, they have turned their season around. They still have Austin Rivers, DeAndre Jordan from last year, but they added Danilo Gallinari, Milos Teodosic, Tobias Harris, and Lou Williams. The Warriors owned the Clippers when Chris Paul and Blake Griffin were their starters. They are gone, and the Clippers are on the rebound.
The Warriors made one change to the starting lineup Thursday night as Steve Kerr decided to start JaVale McGee at center in place of Zaza Pachulia. The move was made to jump start the offense in the first quarter, and the strategy worked as the Warriors raced out to a 34-23 lead at the end of the first 12 minutes of play. It was the first time since November 19th that the Warriors finished the quarter with an 11-point advantage. Curry electrified the crowd as he made a three pointer from half-court as the buzzer sounded to end the period.
The Warriors continued to play well in the second period. At one point, they led 57-40 when Nick Young connected on a three. The Clippers, however, came back on a 9-0 run to close the gap to eight. Curry connected on a three late in the first half to up the lead to 15 70-55, but Danilo Gallinari matched Steph with a three of his own as the buzzer sounded. The Warriors finished the half leading 70-58. Kevin Durant had 12, Curry 15, Thompson 17, and Draymond Green seven. Austin Rivers and Gallinari led the Clippers with 10 apiece. Teodosic had nine, and Lou Williams was held to five.
The Warriors, who have owned the third quarter this year, got off to a good start as they increased the led by 16 after Curry knocked down a three-point shot. Kevin Durant followed with a three of his own, and it looked as if the Warriors were on cruise control. The Clippers cut the deficit to 12 at the end of the third quarter. In the fourth quarter, the Clippers went on a 9-0 run to make it a two-point game. They trailed 104-102. The Warriors behind three big three-point baskets by Curry and one by Durant were able to meet the challenge. They met every Clipper challenge as they showed they still know how to play defense and what they have to do to win a close contest.
Game Notes and Stats: With the win, the Warriors improve to 45-14 and had just 23 games left on the regular season schedule.
The Clippers are now 30-27 but are in the race for the playoffs. The loss time was just the sixth in the last 19 games played and their coach, Doc Rivers, has made them very competitive.
Curry had a double-double with 44 points and 10 assists and he made 8 threes in 11 attempts. Durant knocked down 24, Thompson 19, Green 14. McGee tallied six points and had four boards. Pachulia also scored six. David West had 10.
The Warriors shot 62.7% from the floor but they allowed the Clippers to take 12 more shots in the game.
The Clippers shot 50% from the floor.
The Warriors recorded 31 assists and on defense, they had eight steals and eight blocked shots. The Warriors committed 15 turnovers. At one point in the first quarter, Steve Kerr called a timeout as the Warriors turned the ball over three straight times.
The Clippers had seven players in double figures. Austin Rivers 14, Gallinari 15, Jordan 16. Harris 22, Teodosic, 14. Montrezl Harrell pitched in with 15 and Lou Williams finished with 21. Williams made several big three-point shots when the Clippers rallied in the fourth quarter.
The Warriors’ next opponent will be the Oklahoma Thunder Saturday night at Oracle Arena.
The Thunder, behind Russell Westbrook, Paul George, and Steve Adams, pounded the Warriors the last time they met at Oracle. In fact, the Thunder has won two of the three games played so far this season. The Warriors have their work cut out for them as they have to figure out a way to stop the Thunder attack. Saturday’s game should be a barn burner.