Perhaps Los Angeles head coach Doc Rivers was right. Perhaps Warriors-Clippers isn’t the rivalry fans and media wish it would be. Not when Stephen Curry and his band of Splash Buddies repeatedly find new and creative ways to bludgeon the Chris Paul-led Clippers. In this first meeting between the two Western Conference powerhouses, the Warriors found little success from 3-point territory (7-of-30), but that didn’t prevent them from slicing up LA’s top-rated defense for 115 points and notching another victory at Staples Center.
In the first quarter, Golden State went on a 28-9 run predicated on active, handsy defense and decisive, off-ball movement to take an 18-point advantage. That cushion was all the Warriors needed as they spent the final three quarters keeping the listless Clippers at bay to complete the blowout.
Golden State has now taken the last seven consecutive games from their “rivals.”
Here are 10 thoughts on the game:
1. Curry was a forgettable 0-of-8 from long range (4-of-28 in Staples Center this season) and Kevin Durant had his worst shooting performance as a Warrior (5-of-17 for 16 points). But it didn’t matter as the Warriors’ defense was able to slow the Clippers’ attack, especially in the first quarter when it forced nine LA turnovers, five from Blake Griffin alone. The Dubs were then able to repeatedly feast on buckets in transition where the offense goes from deadly to nuclear. Golden State scored 27 points on the break taking advantage of all those Clipper giveaways.
2. One game after dropping 60, Klay Thompson came back to earth with a mere 24 points on 18 shots. Draymond Green had a season-high 22 and Andre Igoudala chipped in with 10. Despite Steph and KD’s poor shooting night, those extra points from the Warriors’ peripheral scorers were more than enough against this Clippers squad that just can’t seem to string together four good quarters against the Dubs.
3. After a slow start to the season that had many openly questioning whether Andre Igoudala was in a different phase of his career physically (Draymond included), the former Dunk Contest participant rose up for four jams in this game, including a double-pump crush along the baseline that hearkened to his head-almost-hitting-the-back-b
4. Unsurprising News Alert: the Clippers had three technicals in a nationally televised beat down. DeAndre Jordan missed all the free throws he attempted.
5. All this Warrior passing must be contagious. JaVale McGee had a no-look dime for an Andre dunk in the third quarter.
6. If not for Jamal Crawford, this game might have really gotten out of hand. Last year’s Sixth Man of the Year winner had 21 points in two solid runs with the subs, both times cutting into large Warrior leads. Crawford had the garbage shot-of-the-night when his 40-foot heave banked in.
7. Remember a couple of years ago when everyone in the league hated Blake and would try to knock him on his ass each time he went up for a dunk? It’s because of silliness like this. The putback jam was amazing on its own, grabbing Draymond by the face and trying to embarrass him is unnecessary and clownish. (Then again, Blake had to be a little mad that Dray forced him into a 12-point, 5-of-20 shooting night).
8. The great American thinker, Mo Buckets (15 points, 9 boards) had a lot to say about the Clippers and their penchant for chirping at the refs.
9. Had the Clips drafted Patrick McCaw with the 33rd pick last summer instead of dealing it away, the rookie would probably play 20 minutes a game for them, right? Luc Mbah a Moute had 2 points and zero field goal makes. Alan Henderson and Wesley Johnson are not really good at NBA basketball.
10. The Clippers are a championship-caliber team. They have three All-NBA players, two of whom are legitimate franchise super stars, and they’re led by a savvy head coach with championship mettle. They beat a talented Spurs team in the playoffs, and if not for untimely injuries and a racist ex-owner, maybe CP3 would have a Western Conference title under his belt. Who knows? But they do not match up well against these Warriors. Blake Griffin can’t dominate his matchup with Draymond. DeAndre can’t stay on the floor against the Death Lineup (even if he gets a few offensive rebounds and putbacks, the numbers still skew in the Dubs’ favor). Their small forward is a non-threat for the umpteenth time. And the bench has predictably cooled off after a torrid start (by the way, watching Doc go with an all-subs lineup gave me flashbacks to the Mark Jackson-era Warriors. I think I have PTSD over Jackson’s inept hockey-style substitution patterns). The Warriors weren’t worried about the Clippers two seasons ago and that was before they won a championship and a record 73 games. Now that they have Kevin Durant, I don’t see how this non-rivalry rivalry will ever become a rivalry again.