file photo from sfgate.com: Former Golden State Warrior Kevin Durant #35 gets help off the floor in his last hurrah for Golden State with the injured Achilles tendon in the first half of game 5 against the Toronto Raptors.
By Jerry Feitelberg
OAKLAND–The Golden State Warriors lost a key player to free agency on Sunday. Superstar forward Kevin Durant decided to leave the Warriors, a team that he won two championships with, to play for the Brooklyn Nets. The Nets were active Sunday signing point guard Kyrie Irving and center DeAndre Jordan. They will have to wait a year for Durant to play for them as he will be recovering from an Achilles tendon injury that will sideline him for the entire 2019-2020 season.
The big question is, why did Durant decide to leave the Warriors. Golden State offered him a five-year deal worth $ 221 Million. The answer has to be that he was unhappy here with the Warriors. He had a massive dustup with Draymond Green early in the season. The two players didn’t speak for a while, and that may have been a factor even though Green apologized to Durant. Another factor may have been the injury that he sustained in Game Five of the NBA Finals with Toronto. Durant had suffered a calf injury in the series with the Houston Rockets. The team may have asked him to return to action before that injury was healed. No one knows what the Warriors’ doctors told him about the possibility that he might make it worse if he played.
The Warriors did agree to terms with a five -year $190 million contract with Klay Thompson. Klay will be out for at least nine months as he recovers from surgery to fix a torn ACL in his left knee. The Warriors want to re-sign Kevon Looney. Looney is being courted by the Houston Rockets. Looney proved his worth as he played inspired basketball in the Finals after suffering an injury to his collarbone. The Warriors may try to get DeMarcus Cousins back. The most the can offer Cousins is about 6.3 million. Cousins could help fill the gap left by Durant’s departure. Cousins may stay to get a better deal a year from now. Shaun Livingston may retire, and that is another hole that the W’s will have to fill.
The Warriors should be competitive next year with Steph Curry, Draymond Green, and Andre Iguodala still on the roster. Players such as Damian Jones, Jordan Bell, Alonzo McKinnie, and Quinn Cook will have to step up if the Warriors are to be successful next season. The fans are hoping the GM Bob Myers might have something rolled up in his sleeves to help make the team better. It will be a very different season for the Warriors as they start to play next year at the Chase Center in San Francisco.
Sacramento — The Sacramento Kings had the unenviable job of trying to get back into the win column against the Los Angeles Clippers on Friday night. The Clippers (25-14) came into the game winners of two consecutive games despite being short-handed due to injuries.
The Kings (15-21) literally went to battle with their rivals from Southern California but were unable to cross the finish line victorious losing 106-98.
Kings head coach Dave Joerger analyzed the game this way: “Good competitive basketball game. They’re a very talented team. They made more shots than we did. The lack of seeing the ball go in affected some of the other parts of out game. We had a tough stretch in the second quarter … they got some transition three’s. All in all good basketball game. The guys competed.”
When asked how his team is going to be able to beat teams like the Clippers in the future, Joerger responded, “They have just got to keep working and playing as hard as they can. Play at as high of a level as they can. There’s nothing to hang your head about. They (the Clippers) are one of the five best teams in the league.”
The Kings cut the Clippers lead to just two points, 100-98, with 56.2-seconds remaining in the game. After Sacramento turned the ball over on a bad pass by Cousins under the basket, the Kings had no choice but to foul the opposition. The Clippers went 6-for-6 from the free throw line in final seconds while Kings were unable to score.
Clippers head coach Doc Rivers said, “The resolve, I thought that we showed in the fourth quarter was just fantastic. I love it.”
Key players returned for both teams
The Kings had been without Rudy Gay for nine games due to a right hip flexor strain. Gay was able to return to the lineup on Friday night and made an immediate impact scoring nine points in the first quarter.
Gay went on to play 33-minutes scoring 18 points and adding seven rebounds for his team. He shot 7-for-17 for the game and was just 1-for-3 from beyond the 3-point line, but there was bound to be some rust to shake off after the extended layoff.
Chris Paul made his return to the floor for the Clippers in the game. The all-star point guard had been sidelined for four consecutive games due to a sore left hamstring. Paul played 31-minutes and recorded a double-double by scoring 14 points and dishing out 12 assists.
Paul’s head coach, Doc Rivers, thought his defense down the stretch was what made the difference in the game for the Clippers.
The teams traded controlling the flow of the game
The Kings and Clippers each controlled the flow of the game in very distinct ways on Friday night. Sacramento was very much in charge in the first quarter as they outscored LAC 29-19 and shot 50-percent from the field. They seemed determined, ready and not totally dependent on DeMarcus Cousins.
Sacramento ran into a real rough patch in the second period as the Clippers erased their 10-point lead in less than six minutes. Los Angeles outscored the Kings 34-12 in the quarter behind the 3-point shooting of Austin Rivers and JJ Redick. Sacramento shot just 15-percent (3-for-20) in the period. At the half, the Clippers led the Kings 53-41.
Based on their play in the second quarter, the Kings could have been completely out of the game early if they did not come out strong after halftime. They responded to that challenge and shot the lights out in the third quarter. Sacramento behind Cousins’ 11 points outpaced the Clippers 32-22 in the period. The Kings shot 63.2-percent (12-for-19) from the field and hit 4-of-8 3-point opportunities as they closed the LA lead to just two points, 75-73, after 36 minutes of play.
The talent and experience of the Clippers came into play in the fourth quarter as they scored 31 points to the Kings 25. LAC shot 50-percent (9-for-18) from the floor and 50-percent (5-of-10) from 3-point land plus they converted 8-of-9 free throws in the final period. Chris Paul led the Clippers scoring attack with seven points all from the free throw line.
The Kings struggled as they shot 9-for-24 (37.5-percent) from the field and 33.3-percent (3-for-9) from long range in the quarter. They hit 4-of-5 from the charity stripe.
The flow of most games is not usually as defined as it was in this game and is much more difficult to uncover. In this game, it was almost like there was a giant flashing arrow pointing out a change in the direction of the flow of the game.
DeMarcus Cousins scored a game-high 25 points and made it a double-double game by grabbing 11 rebounds. Cousins spent much of the night on the high post in order to avoid foul trouble by battling with DeAndre Jordan and Luc Mbah a Moute.
Darren Collison was very productive playing the two-guard most of the game. He scored 20 points shooting 7-for-13 from the floor and hitting 3-of-6 from beyond the 3-point arc.
Ty Lawson put up 17 points while shooting 50-percent (6-for-12) from the floor. Lawson also distributed six assists from the point for the Kings.
Kosta Koufos played a diminished role with the change in rotation due to Gay’s return and the use of Collison and Lawson on the floor together. Dave Joerger praised Koufos for his professional attitude toward the changes. He scored seven points in 12-minutes of playing time. That was key playing time because it allowed DeMarcus Cousins to get very valuable rest.
Austin Rivers had another big game for LAC scoring 24 points in almost 36 minutes on the floor. Rivers hit 4-of-7 3-point shots.
DeAndre Jordan put up 20 points from the five spot on the floor. He was an incredible 9-for-10 on high percentage shots for the Clippers. Many of those shots were “slammed home with authority!”
JJ Redick did his job to perfection killing the Kings momentum with well timed field goals that totaled 19 points. Five of his six baskets were 3-point conversions.
Up next on the schedule
The Kings will return to action at home on Sunday night when they host the Golden State Warriors. Playing the Warriors is tough enough but now Golden State is going to come to Sacramento angry. The Warriors lost an overtime game at home to Memphis on Friday night. There were reports of anger between players spilling over in the locker room. Golden State will be determined not to lose two in a row.
The Clippers return to Los Angeles and will host the Miami Heat on Sunday at the Staples Center. The Heat lost to the Lakers 127-100 at Staples on Friday night. The Clippers have the opportunity to make it four consecutive wins in one week. That would be a nice way to kick off the new year.
8th place Western Conference – final Playoff slot if the season ended today
15.5 games behind 1st place Golden State
one-half game ahead of 9th place Portland
Home 7-8 Road 8-12
Last 10 games 6-4
Current Streak Lost 1
Los Angeles Clippers 24-14
4th place Western Conference
8.0 games behind 1st place Golden State
4.5 games behind 3rd place Houston
Home 13-6 Road 11-8
Last 10 games 4-6
Current streak Won 2
Results of last games played
The Kings suffered an embarrassing loss on Wednesday night at home to the lowly Miami Heat 107-102. The Heat came into the game with an 10-26 record and team that has been decimated by injury. Miami was without Hassan Whiteside (retinal contusion) and Justise Winslow (right shoulder that requires season-ending surgery). The Kings were without Rudy Gay (hip flexor) and coming off a win on Tuesday night on the road in Denver. The situation certainly seemed to favor Sacramento on their home court despite the back-to-back scenario.
The Heat came out fast and full of energy while the Kings seemed sluggish. Miami scored 64 points in the first half while shooting 63-percent. The Kings fought their way back into the game in the second half by virtue of a 13-0 run at the end of the third quarter. Ultimately, the Kings ran out of gas and lost the game.
With games coming up with the Clippers, Warriors, Cavaliers and Thunder on this homestand, the game with Miami was one the Kings could not afford to lose. Now, they have to try and get healthy against the always tough Los Angeles Clippers.
The Clippers have been hit hard by injuries. Point guard Chris Paul has been on the sidelines with hamstring problems and forward Blake Griffin is out due to “minor” knee surgery. The Clippers had to host the Memphis Grizzlies who played the Lakers in Staples Center on Tuesday losing 116-102. The Grizzlies were without JaMychal Green (maxilla fracture suffered in the Lakers game) and Mike Conley who was held out for rest after having missed games with a toe injury.
The Clippers were led by Austin Rivers who scored a game-high 28 points in 44-minutes on the floor. His coach and father Doc Rivers said they just could not take him off the floor. DeAndre Jordan posted a double-double putting up 18 points and grabbing 20 rebounds. JJ Redick punished the Grizzlies from outside scoring 19 points. Jamal Crawford came off the bench to add 22 points. LAC shot 50.7-percent from the field for the game and beat the Grizzlies 115-106.
The victory over Memphis was the second consecutive win for the Clippers who broke a six-game losing streak on Monday night with a win over Phoenix. Now, the Clippers will play in Sacramento looking to make in three wins in a row.
The Clippers beat the Kings 121-115 in the first meeting of the year back in November at the Golden 1 Center. Sacramento was down by as many as 26 points in that game but made a big run at the Clippers in the fourth quarter to close within two points, 117-115, as the game neared the close. The Kings were not be able to score again and lost by six points.
DeMarcus Cousins scored 38 points, pulled down 13 rebounds and had seven assists for the Kings. Blake Griffin put up 29 points for the Clippers while JJ Redick scored 26 hitting 6-of-8 3-point shots.
The Kings have listed Rudy Gay as doubtful as the hip flexor continues to plague the talented forward. Doubtful means there is a 25-percent chance of Gay playing Friday night. As much as the Kings need him, do not count on see Rudy Gay in this game.
Guard Ty Lawson scored 15 points against the Heat despite having a sub conjunctival hemorrhage right/blurred vision (or as one talk show host called it “a broken face”). As a precaution Lawson is listed as questionable which means he is 50-50 to play on Friday.
The Clippers have Chris Paul listed as doubtful but Doc Rivers said that the decision will be based on the guard’s condition after a full workout on Thursday. Paul and the team have made no secret that they would like to their star return to action on Friday night in Sacramento.
Blake Griffin (knee surgery) and Brice Johnson (herniated disc, lower back) are out and will not play.
What do the teams need to do to win
Sacramento needs to shoot well from midrange and from beyond the arc. The Kings are capable of shooting well from the floor. They shot better than 50-percent in the loss to Miami on Wednesday. Strong shooting performances from Barnes, Collison, Tolliver, Temple, Afflalo and Lawson – if he is able to go – will be necessary to help take the pressure off DeMarcus Cousins.
The Kings will also need a big night on the boards from DeMarcus Cousins. DeAndre Jordan will grabbing rebounds without abandon for the Clippers, the Kings will need Cousins to do the same for them.
The Kings defense will also need to concentrate on shutting down the 3-point shooting of the Clippers. JJ Redick will take every opportunity given to him to heave up a 3-pointer. This is a weak point for the Kings. They need to work hard on stopping the 3-point shots on Friday night.
LAC needs to shoot from beyond the arc until it hurts. This has been the Achilles heal of the Kings all season long. JJ Redick is a shooting guard who can destroy a team from 3-point land. He needs to establish that dominance early and often against the Kings on Friday night.
The Clippers will need a strong defensive performance from Luc Mbah a Moute and DeAndre Jordan to contain DeMarcus Cousins if they are to beat the Kings. If you stop Cousins, you stop the Kings. The problem is – it may take more than two players to stop Cousins.
Los Angeles could really use the presence of point guard of Chris Paul on Friday night. The Kings are going to play angry after losing to Miami on Wednesday night. Having the incredible skills of the all-star point guard to counteract that anger would really benefit the Clippers.
What do the experts predict?
FiveThirtyEight.com says this game will go to the Clippers. They give the Clippers a 54-percent chance of winning the game. FiveThirtyEight.com says to take LAC minus one point.
The Desert Dwellers either have no idea how to call this game or do not care about the game because as of 7 a.m. PST Friday no odds or over/under had been posted for this contest.
Complete postgame coverage tonight on sportsradioservice.com. Listen to the Kings podcast every Tuesday with Charlie O.
The Clippers are now 6-0 on the road but they almost blew this win
The Los Angeles Clippers improved their record to 11-2 on the season with a 121-115 win over the Kings in Sacramento on Friday night. At one point in the first half, Los Angeles had a 26-point lead. They held a 19-point lead after three quarters were in the books.
The Kings outscored the Clippers 30-17 in fourth quarter led by Matt Barnes and his 10 points that came from his perfect 3-for-3 shooting from beyond the 3-point line. DeMarcus Cousins added seven points, Ty Lawson put up five, Garrett Temple four, Anthony Tolliver three and Rudy Gay one point.
Sacramento cut the Clippers lead to two points with 2:04 to go in the game, but that was as close as they would come to retaking the lead. Los Angeles scored the final four points of the game on a dunk by DeAndre Jordan and two free throws from Chris Paul.
The Kings changed the the lineup in the third quarter which changed the game
Dave Joerger went “small” to start the second half moving Cousins to center, keeping Gay at forward and starting three guards – Lawson, Afflalo and Collison. Joerger felt the lineup change had a profound affect on his team’s pick and roll execution. He also felt the defense improved.
The Kings team shooting percentage improved to 52.9-percent (9-for-17) in the third period as they scored 31 points.
The Clippers scored 31 points as well but their shooting percentage fell to 42.9-percent as the Kings tightened up their defense.
Los Angeles still had a 19 point lead – 104 to 85 – at the end of three quarters.
The Clippers started the game on fire
Los Angeles started the game aggressively with Blake Griffin scoring 15 points and J.J. Redick adding 14 of his own. Griffin went to the free throw line eight times and converted seven times. Redick was a perfect 4-for-4 from 3-point land. The Clippers shot 70-percent as a team in the first quarter.
The Clippers put up 33 points in the second quarter paced by the 20 points scored by the second unit coming off the bench. Paul Pierce – who has been used sparingly – even made an appearance scoring six points. As a team, they shot 70.6-percent from the floor and 85.7-percent (6-for-7) from 3-point range.
The Kings improved their lot in the second period by scoring 30 points. DeMarcus Cousins scored 15 points in seven minutes on the floor to keep the game relatively close.
The Clippers held a 19 point lead – 73 to 54 – over the Kings at the half.
To no one’s surprise Cousins had another monster game
The Kings superstar scored 38 points in 36 minutes of playing time on Friday night. He also posted another double-double as he pulled down 13 rebounds in the game. The amazing big man also had seven assists and three steals.
Lawson, Collison and Barnes also came up big
Ty Lawson played 36-minutes against the Clippers and scored 18 points, dished out eight assists and hauled in seven rebounds. His point guard counterpart – Darren Collison – played 32-minutes putting up 16 points shooting 7-for-11 (one 3-pointer) from the floor.
Matt Barnes came off the bench and played 30-minutes for the Kings scoring 15 points and recording seven rebounds. He shot 5-for-10 from the field and 4-for-6 from beyond the 3-point arc.
Coach Dave Joerger on the Kings performance
“I was proud of our guys. We came out and battled and got after it and we competed. I thought we had a lot of open shots – didn’t knock some down that could’ve really put it over the edge there late in the third quarter and then into the fourth quarter. But we didn’t put out heads down. We competed and I’m really proud of guys tonight.”
The Kings are going to go small
“I’m going to play small,” declared Kings head coach Dave Joerger after the game. “DeMarcus (Cousins) is going to play center. I don’t know who else is going to play with him. It just gives us more zip, more life, more experience. That’s not any detriment to anyone else for what they’ve done. Of course in four or five games, I’ll probably go back.”
It was the usual suspects doing the job for the Clippers on Friday night
Blake Griffin was the Clippers leading scorer with 29 points. He shot 7-for-15 from floor and was an impressive 15-of-16 from the free throw line.
J.J. Redick made rain like usual. 18 of his 26 points came off 3-point baskets. He was 6-for-8 from long range.
DeAndre Jordan posted a double-double scoring 16 points and hauling in 12 rebounds. His free throw shooting did not come into play as the big man did not go to the foul line once in the game.
Chris Paul also had a double-double for the Clippers. The star point guard put up 11 points and handed out 12 assists.
Austin Rivers was the key man off the bench for LAC adding 12 points and four assists.
Clippers coach Doc Rivers on how the Kings got back into the game
“Us! I thought that was more us. I give them credit. Coach (Joerger) went small and they got more patient in the game. They scored every time down it felt like and then we stopped offensively. We (started) going in North Carolina four corner stall, I felt like. You’re always happy to win the game, but we want to be better that … First half was beautiful basketball. It was a clinic; you couldn’t have played any better. Defensively is where it started and then in the second half we decided we were going to trade baskets with them.”
What’s coming up
The Clippers flew back to Los Angeles where they will host the Chicago Bulls (8-4) on Saturday night at the Staples Center.
The Kings will host the Toronto Raptors (8-4) on Sunday night at 6:00 PM at the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento.
Clippers looking to rebound from second loss of season
LAC (10-2) lost just their second game of the season on Wednesday night to the Memphis Grizzlies 111-107 on their homecourt in Los Angeles. The Grizzlies Marc Gasol hit the go-ahead 3-pointer with 14 seconds left in the game to lead Memphis to the win.
J.J. Redick was the Clippers leading scorer putting up 29 points. DeAndre Jordan grabbed 14 rebounds. LAC shot 45.7-percent from the floor (37-for-81) and 9-for-25 (36.0-percent) from 3-point land. DeAndre Jordan went 0-for-2 from the free throw line.
Team Leaders for the Clippers
Forward Blake Griffin leads LAC in scoring with 20.6 points per game
DeAndre Jordan is the leader in shooting percentage at 57.8-percent with most of his scoring coming in the paint near the basket
Jordan is also the rebounding leader at 12.8 per game (3.8 offensive rebounds ppg)
Chris Paul dishes out an average of 8.3 assists per game
When it comes to 3-pointers, Paul and J.J. Redick average hitting 2.3 long shots per game each
As a team, the Clippers average 108.7 per game – fourth best in the NBA
The Clippers defense has held their opponents to just 93.8 points per game – number one in the NBA – this team not only can score, they can play defense
Does “hack-a-Jordan” still work?
DeAndre Jordan is shooting 44.0-percent from the free throw line so far this year, so it’s worth a try.
How do you beat the Clippers?
The Grizzlies beat LAC by doubling the number of 3-pointers they hit. Memphis hit 15 from downtown to just nine for the Clippers
Memphis also outrebounded Los Angeles 43-35
This is the front end of a back-to-back for the Clippers
The Clippers have to go home after the game on Friday night and host the Chicago Bulls on Saturday night.
Probable starters for the Clippers
Forward Luc Mbah a Moute 5.8 ppg
Forward Blake Griffin 20.6 ppg
Center DeAndre Jordan 10.3 ppg
Guard J.J. Redick 14.6 ppg
Guard Chris Paul 18.3 ppg
Sacramento Kings (4-8)
Game two of five at home
The Kings lost the opening game of the homestand to San Antonio 110-105. Now, they have to play the team with the best record in the NBA – the Los Angeles Clippers are who 10-2 on the season.
The Kings have lost three consecutive games
The Kings (4-8) have already experienced a four-game losing streak on the long road trip that featured five games in seven nights. The team would like to avoid matching that losing streak but that is going to be a tough task against a team like the Clippers who are playing so well on both ends of the floor.
Kings must play solid defense against the Clippers
The Clippers are just too strong of a scoring team to get into a shootout with in the game. If you do, you are going to lose. The Kings must slow the game down and play solid, hard nosed defense. They must decide who they are going to shutdown. Will they go after Griffin or Chris Paul? Sacramento has to make one of those players ineffective in order to have a chance to win.
Sacramento needs a third scorer to step up
The Kings have been dependent on DeMarcus Cousins and Rudy Gay to carry the load when it comes to scoring. The Clippers are too strong of a team on defense for the Kings to have just two scoring options. The Kings need a third player to produce tonight – preferably a guard who might be able to hit some 3-pointers.
Last year versus the Clippers
The Kings were 1-3 versus the Clippers in 2015-16. Their lone win came in January 2016 at Staples Center when six Kings players scored in double figures.
How deep will the rotation go?
There had been rumors that Dave Joerger was going to shorten the rotation on his bench and then he used 10 players against San Antonio. Only Omri Casspi and Anthony Tolliver did not see the floor versus the Spurs. Will the same be true against the Clippers tonight?
Forward Rudy Gay 21.3 ppg
Forward DeMarcus Cousins 26.6 ppg
Center Kosta Koufos 5.3 ppg
Guard Aaron Afflalo 9.6 ppg
Guard Ty Lawson 5.4 ppg
For Entertainment Purposes Only
FiveThirtyEight.com predicts the Clippers have a 69-percent change of winning the game to just a 31-percent chance for the hometown Kings. FiveThirtyEight says take the Clippers minus five points.
Other sites from that desert town in Nevada project an over/under of 204.5 points. They favor the Clippers minus 8.0 to 8.5 points.
OAKLAND — Draymond Green scored a game-high 23 points on 8-for-15 shooting from the field in 28 minutes helping the Golden State Warriors extend their lead in the Pacific Division to 10 games with a 106-98 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers Sunday at Oracle Arena. It was the 111th straight sellout for the Warriors, and their sixth straight at Oracle Arena where their an NBA-best 27-2 this season.
“We were aggressive today, which was huge for us,” said Green, who added six assists. “I thought guys were active and ready to play.”
Klay Thompson finished with 21 points on 9-for-13 shooting, while Shaun Livngston provided a lift off the bench scoring a season-high 21 points and grabbing eight rebounds. Livingston shot 9-for-14 from the floor in 28 minutes.
Stephen Curry, who didn’t score his first points until 5:16 left before halftime, finished with 12 points on 3-for-9 shoot to go along with four assists, but did have three steals which extended his consecutive games streak with at least one steal to 25 games.
Golden State (49-12) shot 50 percent (40-for-80) from the floor, and 45 percent (10-for-22) from three-point range. Green and Thompson each drained three from behind the arc.
Thompson’s three 3s moved him past his head coach, Steve Kerr (726), on the all-time list.
The Clippers (40-22), who were playing without Blake Griffin and Jamal Crawford, dropped their fifth straight game in Oakland.
Backup point guard Austin Rivers led all Clippers players with 22 points off the bench in 31 minutes. J.J. Redick scored 18 points in 27 minutes on 8-for-12 shooting.
Chris Paul scored 14 points and dropped 11 assists, while DeAndre Jordan grabbed 11 of the Clippers 39 rebounds.
Los Angeles outscored Golden State 42-30 in the paint, but the Warriors forced 18 Clippers’ turnovers that led to 22 points.
“I don’t think they like us. I don’t know why,” Los Angeles coach Doc Rivers said after the loss. “Steve (Kerr) told me he didn’t like me. We’re the last team to knock them out, and they know that. So I think that adds to it.”
Golden State avenged a 100-86 loss to the Clippers in Los Angeles on Christmas night; after Golden State pummeled Los Angeles 121-104 back in November in Oakland.
The home team has won each of the last 10 regular-season games. Golden State and Los Angeles play one more time in Los Angeles on March 31.
Golden State, who averaged a win-margin of 15.3 points per game in home wins, play the Suns in Phoenix on Monday.
Coach Mark Jackson accused his Golden State Warriors of playing down to their opponents amidst a stretch that has seen the Warriors drop six of their last nine, a cold streak that reached its lowest point with a Tuesday night 88-85 loss at home to the lowly Washington Wizards. His team played to the level of its opponent against Thursday night. Luckily for Jackson, the team on the opponents’ bench happened to be one of the best of the West. The Warriors (28-19) rebounded from Tuesday’s embarrassment in a big way, thumping the Pacific Division-leading Los Angeles Clippers 111-92 at Oracle Arena in a game where the outcome practically never came under doubt.
The Dubs big men manhandled their Southern California foes, with David Lee and Andrew Bogut combining for 36 points and 28 rebounds for their second-straight win over in-state rivals Los Angeles (33-16). The Warriors also downed the Clippers on Christmas day in a more physical 105-103 win and lead the season series 2-1.
Lee, making a statement after being overlooked for a reserve role on the Western Conference All-Star squad after spots were announced Thursday, tied Stephen Curry for a Warriors-best 22 points on the night and chipped in 11 boards for the double-double. Bogut connected on seven of eleven field goal attempts for 14 points, including a nifty desperation chuck with the shot clock expiring that drew a smile from the Aussie center, and pulled down 17 rebounds. His 17 boards were second only to Clippers center DeAndre Jordan who reeled 20 down off the rim. All-world talent Blake Griffin ended the contest with 27 points for Los Angeles to lead all scorers. Guard Darren Collison netted 22 starting in place of All-Star Chris Paul, out with a shoulder injury since January 3rd but expected to return as early as next week.
The Warriors raced out to an early 17-6 lead just under halfway through the first quarter then held the 11-point edge leading 32-21 to close the quarter. The home team continued to add to the lead in the second before the Clippers put together their best run off the night in the final five minutes of the half. Trailing Golden State 56-40, L.A. closed out the period outscoring the Warriors 16-8 to trail 64-56. The Clippers comeback ended prematurely with the Warriors smothering their visitors 26-11 then closed out the game despite being outscored 25-21 in the fourth quarter for the 111-92 final margin.
The win came at a desperate time for the Warriors, who were in danger of dropping back six games in the standings to the Clippers. The Dubs stand four games back in third place in the division after being leapfrogged by the red-hot Phoenix Suns, winners of four-straight and seven of their last ten. The Warriors have a prime opportunity to string together consecutive wins for the first time since their historic ten-game win-streak was snapped earlier in the month when they face the Utah Jazz, who boast the second-least wins in the Western Conference (16) Friday night in the second half of back-to-back games. For coach Jackson, the hope is that the Warriors can right a spin that has seen the Dubs go 4-6 over their last ten while playing above the level of their opponents, the Northeast Division’s last place Jazz.
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.