The Clippers, behind four reserves and All-Star Blake Griffin, roared back from a 21-point second-half deficit to draw even with the Warriors in the final minutes Sunday at Staples Center.
But Golden State survived the comeback attempt and despite 17 turnovers and only nine minutes from star guard Stephen Curry, the Warriors knocked off L.A., 97-93.
The loss dropped the Clippers (23-16) into second place in the Pacific Division, a game behind the rival Lakers. It was the second consecutive loss to Golden State (17-21), who defeated the Clippers by seven on Feb. 20.
“Our lack of energy and defense in the first half contributed [to the loss],” Griffin said. “It’s something we’re trying to figure out right now. I think if we knew it would be a lot easier.”
After struggling to stop Golden State for much of the first three quarters, Clippers head coach Vinny Del Negro used a lineup of Griffin, Reggie Evans, Eric Bledsoe, Mo Williams, and Bobby Simmons to string together a 26-7 run between the third and fourth quarters. Griffin finally tied the game at 83 with a dunk off a feed from Bledsoe with 4:30 left in the game.
Difference Maker: Reggie Evans. Even in a loss, the Clippers’ backup big man was a spark in both halves. He grabbed six rebounds in four minutes between the first and second quarter and later helped provide the defensive energy the team sorely lacked in allowing the Warriors to build a 21-point lead. Evans finished with 11 points and 12 rebounds (seven offensive) for his first double-double since Nov. 24, 2010 when he was a member of the Raptors.
Turning Point: After coming back to tie the game, the Clippers had two opportunities to take the lead with the game tied at 83. The first possession ended in a 24-second clock violation and the next on a blocked shot by Ekpe Udoh. The Warriors, with tough layups from Monta Ellis and David Lee, strung together an 8-1 run from 2:58 to 1:19 in the fourth quarter, effectively icing things.
Stat Line of the Night: Blake Griffin. With 27 points, 12 rebounds, three assists, and two blocks Griffin put together one of his best all-around games since the All-Star break. However, he shot just 7-of-15 from the free throw line. The Clippers as a unit went 19-for-35 from the stripe (54.3%).
More Stats: Chris Paul, playing with a plastic mask after sustaining a nasal fracture in Friday’s game versus the Spurs, scored 23 points on 10-off-18 shooting. He also had five assists and three steals.
Monta Ellis had 21 points, 11 assists, and six rebounds. He also accounted for six of Golden State’s 17 turnovers. More importantly, though, he made two of the biggest plays of the game: a near impossible step back jumper over Foye on the baseline to stymie a third-quarter run by L.A. and a reverse layup to give Golden State a two-point lead after the Clippers had tied it.
David Lee played with foul trouble most of the night, but Warriors head coach Mark Jackson left him in the game. Lee responded with 18 points and 11 rebounds.
Hot: Dorell Wright scored 16 of his 20 points in the first quarter, equaling the Clippers’ total in the opening period. He went 6-for-6 from the field during the stretch, including 4-for-4 from 3-point range.
Not: A game after scoring 33 points, Mo Williams went just 1-of-8 for three points. Still, his one shot, a contested 3-pointer from the left wing, brought the Clippers to within two points late in the game.
On the Clippers’ energy level:
Reggie Evans: “We just need to be aggressive and have fun every time we step on the court. We’ve been on the road for so long [six games in 10 days]. We need to make the best out of these situations and take advantage of being at home.”
Vinny Del Negro: “Our starters have to do a better job with their intensity to start the game off. You saw the difference in our energy in the second half compared to the first half. In the second half we got out and ran and got some easy baskets.”
Mark Jackson: “Things were going smooth, we don’t have a history of responding when volume is increased, they [the Clippers] battled back and made great energy and effort plays and made it a ball game.”
On playing Griffin a team-high 37 minutes:
Del Negro: “He gave us everything he could. He is out there almost to exhaustion it seemed like. He was trying as hard as he could. He’ll get his rest.”
Notes: Paul had 11 points in the second quarter… The Warriors scored 22 points off the Clippers’ 14 turnovers… Golden State shot 70% from 3-point range in the first half (7-of-10)… Sunday was the first of six games in eight days for the Clippers, all at home… Randy Foye matched his career high with three blocked shots, including a chase down rejection of Ellis on fast-break layup attempt.
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