Kawhi Leonard (left) the Los Angeles Clippers forward takes a shot against the Golden State Warriors Andrew Wiggins (22) on Thu Mar 11, 2021 at Staples Center in Los Angeles (AP News photo)
By Jerry Feitelberg
The Warriors started the second half of the NBA on a sour note against the Clippers Thursday night at the Staples Center. Hoping to snap a three-game losing streak, the Warriors did not look like they were in sync.
They did play a competitive first period. They found themselves trailing 12-3 in the early going. The Warriors fought hard and went ahead 23-22. The Clippers finished the quarter with a slim two-point advantage 28-26. The Warriors never regained the lead.
The Clippers dominated play in the second and third quarters to put the game out of reach. In the second quarter, Steve Kerr’s second unit could not get the job done. He inserted Nico Mannion and Jordan Poole in the backcourt instead of Damion Lee and Brad Wanamaker.
Eric Paschall was in the center position. The Clippers’ defense shut down the small ball by holding them to four points in almost six minutes of playing time. Steph Curry, Andrew Wiggins, and Draymond Green returned, but they could not get the Warriors back into the game.
The Clippers outscored the Warriors 31-17 to finish the first half with a 16 point advantage 59-43. Kelly Oubre, Jr. was the only Warriors in double-figures. Kelly had 11 points and five boards. Andrew Wiggins had nine, and Curry finished with seven. Jordan Poole had three, and Nico Mannion did not score. Kawhi Leonard paced the Clippers with 20 points. Serge Ibaka had nine.
The Clippers blew the game wide open in the third quarter. LA outscored the Warriors 45-25 to finish the quarter with a commanding 36-point lead. Curry had seven points in the period, but it was clear that he, Draymond Green, and Andrew Wiggins were not going to play the fourth quarter.
Kerr inserted the Warriors rookie center, James Wiseman, into the lineup to start the fourth period. Wiseman, who was in Kerr’s doghouse for missing a Covid-19 test on Wednesday, finally got his chance to play.
Kerr wanted Wiseman to get more playing time to hone his skills. Kerr wanted to have him cool his heels as punishment for missing the test. Jordan Poole and Nico Mannion played the entire fourth quarter, too.
The Warriors’ bench outplayed the Clippers’ bench 36-26. Wiseman knocked down 14 points and had seven rebounds in 12 minutes of action. Poole had 11 to finish the night with 14. Mannion added ten. The Clippers put the Warriors away 130-104.
Game Notes and Stats: The Clippers snapped a three-game losing streak to improve to 25-14. The Warriors lost their fourth in a row and are 19-19 for the year,
Four of the Warriors starters were in double-figures. Andrew Wiggins had 15 points and eight boards. Kelly Oubre had 15 points and six rebounds. Curry finished with 14 points, three rebounds, and four assists. He was six-for-sixteen from the floor. Curry, who won the NBA 3-point shooting contest at the All-Star game Sunday, was a woeful one-for-eight from downtown.
Kawhi Leonard led the Clippers with 28 points, Ibaka had a double-double with 16 points and 14 rebounds. Paul George had 17, Lou William 14.
The Warriors have their work cut out for them as they meet the Utah Jazz in Salt Lake City on Sunday. The Jazz has the best record in the NBA Western Conference. The Warriors return home to face the Los Angeles Lakers at the Chase Center Monday night. The Lakers crushed the Warriors in LA in a game just before the All-Star break. The game will start at 7:30 pm.