sfgate.com photo: Los Angeles Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard, left, passes the ball as Golden State Warriors guard Ky Bowman defends during the first half of an NBA basketball game Friday, Jan. 10, 2020, in Los Angeles
By Jerry Feitelberg
The Golden State Warriors, still without D’Angelo Russell and Kevon Looney, gave the Los Angeles Clippers all they could handle for three quarters Friday night at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. Omari Spellman made his first start in the NBA and continued to play well for the Warriors.
Spellman had his fourth consecutive game in double-figures, and it appears that he will see a lot more action in the upcoming games. The Clippers, who blew out the Warriors on opening night at the first game ever at the Chase Center, figured they would have no trouble beating the revamped lineup.
They were wrong, and they trailed the Warriors by ten at the end of three periods by a score of 83-73. The young Warriors felt they had an upset in the making, but the Clippers behind Kawhi Leonard, Montrezl Harrell, and Lou Williams found their game, and they were able to propel the Clippers to a 109-100 win.
In the first quarter, the Clippers got off to an early 18-9 lead. The Warriors’ Alec Burks, Glenn Robinson, and Willie Cauley-Stein all made contributions, and the Warriors erased the deficit to tie the game at 20. The Clippers made the last basket of the quarter leading 22-20.
The Warriors found their game in the second quarter. They outscored the Clippers 33-26 to finish the first half leading 53-48. Spellman made two threes to help pace the Warriors to the five-point advantage. Glenn Robinson led the Warriors with 13. Spellman had 11.
Kawhi Leonard paced the Clippers with 15. Leonard was the only Clipper in double-figures in the first half. The Warriors played well on defense to stymie the Clipper offense. The W’s shot 43% from the floor in the half but were 4-for-19 from beyond the 3-point arc.
The Clippers went on a 7-0 run to start the third quarter. LA erased the five-point deficit to lead by two 55-53. The Warriors regrouped and led 68-62 when Draymond Green knocked down a three. Reserve guard Jacob Evans made three mid-range jumpers to help send the Warriors to a 10-point lead 83-73 after three-quarters of play.
The Clippers are a team that will be in the playoffs. They know how to win games. Their star player, Kawhi Leonard, won the NBA Championship last year when he was a Toronto Raptor. He is excellent in crunch time. His teammates, Montrezl Harrell, Lou Williams, Patrick Beverly, and Mo Harkless, have been around the block a few times, and Friday night’s game was not their first rodeo.
The Clippers showed the young Warriors that if they want to win in the NBA, they have to stop their opponent’s big guns. They tried but could not shut down the Clipper offense. The Clippers went on a 13-2 run to open the quarter to lead 87-85. The Warriors never led again. They came close, but Kawhi Leonard and Company outscored them 36-17 in the quarter to win 109-100,
Game Notes and stats- The Warriors dropped their seventh game in a row and are now 9-31 for the season. The Clippers improved to 27-12. The Clippers’ Paul George did not play due to a hamstring injury.
The Warriors played well on defense the entire game. They also did an excellent job rebounding. The Warriors had trouble making three-point shots. They made eight in 39 tries. Spellman accounted for four of them. Spellman and Robinson led the Warriors with 17 points each. Alec Burks had 16, Eric Paschall 12, and Damion Lee 10.
Kawhi Leonard finished the night with 36. He had nine boards and five assists. Patrick Beverly just missed a triple-double. Beverly had 12 points, 11 rebounds, and nine assists. He made three threes, too. Montrezl Harrell finished with 11 pints and 10 boards for a double-double. Lou Williams, coming off the bench, tallied 21. He made three threes in six tries.
The Warriors resume play on Sunday in Memphis against the Grizzlies. The game will start at 3 pm. Pacific Time