Warriors make quick work of Clippers behind Curry's 45, Win 121-105
After beating the Houston Rockets, the Golden State Warriors (31-8) flew to Los Angeles to take on the Clippers (17-20). The Warriors were looking to close out a undefeated road trip against their longtime punching bag, but they would have to do so without Kevin Durant, who was still out with a strained calf. All other Warriors were active, including Omri Casspi, who had been sitting out for several games after hurting his ankle. The Clippers were coming off of a 127-117 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder, and were looking to bounce-back against the best team in the league during an unbelievably early Saturday game. The Warriors went on to win the game 121-105.
In the first quarter, both teams started off pretty slow, but the Warriors began to heat up behind Stephen Curry to take a lead. Steph continued his incredible scoring in his return from injury by putting up 17 points in the opening quarter. He was the Warriors’ leading scorer by a wide margin, as the next closest player was Draymond Green with five points. Outside of Curry, the team shot the ball pretty poorly, and the Warriors’ field goal percentage sat a 33.3% after the quarter. The Clippers were shooting the ball at a 47.6% clip, but had taken six less shots than the Warriors. Their leadings corer was Lou Williams with 13 points, which included oging 2-2 from beyond the arc. Blake Griffin got injured halfway thru the quarter, as he was elbowed in the head by JaVale McGee. He had to be removed from the game and taken to the locker room. After the first, the Warriors led the Clippers 31-28.
The second quarter saw the Warriors continue to shoot the ball incredibly poorly. There were several possessions where the Warriors were missing wide open layups or making too many passes, and were shooting a combined 36.4%. The Warriors did manage to build their lead though, thanks to their ability to draw fouls. At the half, the Warriors were 17-18 from the free throw line. The only Warriors who were able to consistently score in the first half were Stephen Curry and David West. Steph finished the half with 29 points, and was the game's’ leading scorer. David West continued to defy father time, putting up 10 points on 4-5 shooting in just eight minutes. There were several players struggling to score for the Warriors in the first half, but the most glaring issues were with Klay Thompson. He simply could not buy a bucket, finishing with just five points on 2-10 shooting. Andre Iguodala also missed several open shots and layups, which is becoming a little annoying at this point in the season. He just is not very interested in shooting, and often times passes up wide-open layups under the hoop to either dribble it out or pass it to the perimeter. The Clippers’ leading scorer was still Lou Williams, who finished the half with 19 points, which included a buzzer-beating layup. At the half, the Warriors led 64-55.
The Warriors exploded in the third quarter, building a massive lead to earn their started a fourth quarter break after a night out in LA. Stephen Curry was the driving force in the quarter, and he finished with 45 points, which was insane. Klay Thompson also got it going a little bit, and finally caught up to David West with 10 points. JaVale McGee and Nick Young also had good a quarter, finishing with a combined 15 points, including a beautiful lob from Draymond to JaVale. The Clippers just could not do anything to stop the Warriors in the third quarter, and they scored 39 points. Heading to the fourth, the Warriors led 103-76.
The fourth quarter was garbage time for its' entirety, and they would hang on to win the game handedly, 121-105.
The most impressive performance in this game came from Stephen Curry, who finished with 45 points, six rebounds, three assists, and three steals, all while not stepping on the floor after the third quarter. He has been absurd since he returned from injury, and absolutely deserves to be in th MVP conversation, right at the top of the list with LeBron and Harden. He is on track to shoot 50/40/90 on the year, and is unstoppable right now.
As a team, the Warriors shot the ball at a 41.5% clip when it was all said and done, so they did not have a great game shooting the ball. They missed several wide open shots, especially from beyond the arc, where they shot 33%. This was to be expected, especially after an off-day in Los Angeles. Klay Thompson was particularly bad, going 4-16, but all of the struggles from the team were offset by the brilliant Steph performance. Nick Young was also not great, going 4-11, but most of his shots were when the game was out of hand, so I’ll take that with a grain of salt.
After rolling his ankle in the game against the Houston Rockets, and decided to play through it against the Clippers, and he continued to be spectacular. He went 4-5 with 10 points, and I think should be in the conversation for sixth man of the year. He is shooting the ball at a 63.5% clip through 37 games, which is absurd because he’s taking mostly mid-range jump shots, not bankshots from inside the paint. He has been the Warriors’ most consistent big man, and seemingly always comes in and nails big shots whenever no one else in the second unit can. He is playing like he's 27 at age 37, and it is almost as remarkable as Stephen Curry in his return from injury.
The Warriors play their next game on Monday, January 8, at home against the Denver Nuggets at 7:30 p.m.