Warriors Hold on to Beat Clippers behind Curry's 44, Win 134-127
After a much needed All Star break, the Golden State Warriors (44-14) returned home to face the Los Angeles Clippers (30-26). The Warriors went into the All Star break in a bit of a rut, and would be looking to put that all behind them against a team that they have been very successful against in the last four years. The last time the two teams played, the Clippers won the game, and Lou Williams scored 50 points, but it snapped a 12-game losing streak in the rivalry for the Clippers. The Warriors would be looking to avenge that loss by blowing the Clippers out of the water to start the second half of the season on a high note. JaVale McGee would be in the starting lineup for the Warriors, replacing Zaza Pachulia. The Warriors went on to win the game 134-127.
In the first quarter, the Warriors looked like themselves again. They were moving the ball with confidence, and weren’t forcing passes early. Steph got the scoring started with a nice driving layup. Klay started off hot, hitting two straight catch-and-shoot threes. Kevin Durant made several incredible passes, and Draymond did as well. Draymond Green also hit an early three, which was a welcome sight. JaVale McGee looked good early, and was able to get to the rim with relative ease. The Warriors were playing fast, and forced Doc Rivers to call a timeout five minutes into the quarter, after the Warriors rattled off a 11-0 run. After the timeout, the Warriors turned the ball over on three straight possessions, forcing an upset Steve Kerr to call a timeout to try and stop the Clippers’ momentum. The Warriors then managed to stay ahead of the Clippers for the rest of the quarter, despite some poor play from Zaza and Nick Young, who just looked slow. David West was brought in late in the quarter to replace Zaza, this was one of the few times West has played in the first quarter for the Warriors. Stephen Curry closed out the quarter with a buzzer-beating deep three, to help extend the Warriors lead. The leading scorer for Golden State was Klay Thompson, who had eight points, and Steph was right behind him with seven. The team shot a combined 66.7% from the field, which was spectacular. They also shot 80% from three, which was something that was missing in recent first quarters. The Clippers were led by Tobias Harris, who had six points. As a team, the Clippers shot 41.7% from the field, and 10% from three. After the first, the Warriors led the Clippers 34-23.
The Warriors got off to a blisteringly hot start in the second quarter, and extended their lead to 18 points in less than three minutes. Doc Rivers was forced to call another early timeout due to the Warriors’ effectiveness. Klay Thompson had six points, including a nice dunk, his second of the game. Shaun Livingston hit a mid range pull up jumper right in the face of a Clipper, and the Warriors looked like they were firing on all cylinders. The Warriors were able to hold their lead for the rest of the half, and looked pretty good doing it. They finished the half shooting 69.4%, which was nice. They were also shooting 70% from beyond the arc, which was incredible. They were a little sloppy in the second quarter, committing five turnovers to raise their total to 8 for the half. Klay Thompson was leading the Warriors with 17 points, and Steph was right behind him with 15 points. KD was also playing well, with 12 points of his own, two of which came on an incredible dunk over DeAndre Jordan. The Clippers still were not shooting the ball well, and their field goal percentage at halftime was 46.7%. They were shooting better from deep though, raising their percentage from 10% to 31.2%. The Clippers’ were being led by Austin Rivers and Danilo Gallinari, who had 10 points each. As the half ended, Stephen Curry crossed over DeAndre Jordan before draining a deep three with four seconds left, but Danilo Gallinari nailed a half-court heave. Heading to the half, the Warriors led 70-58.
The third quarter saw the Warriors get off to another hot start. Their offense was great throughout the quarter, unfortunately, their defense wasn’t as great. As a team, the Warriors were still shooting nearly 70% at 64.3% from the field, and shot 58.8% from three. Stephen Curry took command of the offense for the Warriors in the third, and finished with 33 points. He hit several incredible shots, including some crafty layups at the beginning of the quarter. The Warriors moved the ball around well, including a nice sequence that saw Klay block a shot, then pass the ball up to Andre Iguodala, who gave it to Zaza, and then threw it back to Andre for an incredible dunk. The Clippers took advantage of some poor defense by the Warriors in the third, and finished the quarter shooting 50% from the field. Lou Williams hit a buzzer-beating shot for the Clippers, which meant that a buzzer-beater had been hit in each of the first three quarters. After three quarters, the Warriors led 102-92. I apologize for the poor recap of the third quarter, my computer decided it no longer had the capability of watching live video for a solid twenty minutes, and the TNT live streaming service is not a particularly good one.
The Warriors started off the fourth quarter by throwing up all over themselves and allowing the Clippers to get back into the game, cutting the deficit to just four points. The teams were going back-and-forth in the first half of the fourth quarter. They were trading buckets and free throws. Lou Williams looked unstoppable, while the Warriors were trying to force some bad passes and worse shots. The whole fourth quarter turned into a back-and-forth affair until the last two minutes. During the last two minutes, the Warriors ran the plays that they actually use in the playoffs. They ran high screens with Steph, Draymond, and KD. They ran the play four times, and it led to two spectacular threes from Steph, a layup from Draymond, and a three from KD. The Warriors hit several shots that looked like they could have been daggers, but the Clippers refused to go away. Lou Williams hit big shot after big shot, and so did Tobias Harris, who banked in a deep three to keep the Clippers close in the final minutes. The Warriors didn’t play good defense, but were able to make up for it on the offensive end. The Warriors hung on to beat the Clippers 134-127.
The Warriors’ offense was incredible all night, but outside of the first quarter, their defense was atrocious. Draymond Green was the only player who was playing well defensively for the entire game. They allowed the Clippers to shoot 50% from the field, and allowed them to hit big shots in the closing minutes with relative ease. As I wrote before though, the Warriors’ offense was the key to the win over the Clippers. They shot a combined 62.2% from the field, and 54.2% from deep. The driving force in the offense was Stephen Curry, who was absolutely absurd tonight. He finished with 44 points on 14/19 shooting, which included 8/11 from three. He also had 10 assists, and six rebounds. Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson were also both pretty good on the offensive end, finishing with a combined 43 points on 15/2 shooting. Draymond Green and David West continued their stretch of solid play, and the two had 13 and 10 points, respectively.
Steve Kerr employed a much tighter rotation tonight than he had been doing in the first half of the year. It looked as if he was starting to get his team ready for the playoffs, which is a good thing because I was very tired of seeing players who have been consistently bad get consistently high minutes. They ran several of their most effective plays, including the high pick-and-roll for Steph that all Warriors fans beg and plead for, and it all seemed to work pretty well. The defense still needs some work, but I think that the defensive struggles have been more about effort rather than an inability to play solid defense. I think that they will turn it around by the time the playoffs roll around.
I do have one real concern about the Golden State Warriors though, and it isn’t exactly related to how they have been playing. I would like to know what happened to all of their other jerseys. They have worn their “The Town” jerseys for what feels like 20 straight games, and I am sick of it. Before their recent stretch of poor performances, they had been playing their worst basketball when wearing these jerseys, and it appears that they have either lost or thrown away all the other jerseys that the team has ever worn. I really miss the classic Warriors blue jerseys, the white jerseys, the throwback white jerseys, and even the Chinese New Year jersey, and I am sick of the all-black “The Town” jerseys that are apparently the only jerseys that they have left.
This win propelled the Warriors back into the No. 1 seed in the West, and are now tied with Houston atop the NBA, in terms of winning percentage. The Warriors have one of the league’s easiest schedules down the stretch, while Houston’s schedule is significantly harder. I expect the Warriors to end the season with the No. 1 seed in the West.
The Warriors play their next game on Saturday, February 24, at home against the Oklahoma City Thunder, at 5:30 p.m.