WARRIORS NO MATCH FOR CHRIS PAUL |
- RYAN MENEZES
The Clippers never trailed in a 112-104 win over the Warriors at Staples Center on Saturday afternoon, but things still got interesting.
The battered Warriors (22-37), relying on nine healthy players on their roster, battled back from 19 down to tie the game twice.
"With them having their top guys out, you may come out not as focused," DeAndre Jordan said. "We did that in the second quarter and they got back into the game. We really had to fight in the second half."
While a barrage of 3-pointers helped Golden State stay in the game, they couldn't get over the hump because of a dominating performance from point guard Chris Paul, who seized control of the game when the Clippers (37-23) hit a lull.
The win, their 11th in 13 games, moves the Clippers closer to clinching the fifth playoff berth in franchise history. Heading into Saturday night's games, the Clippers remain in fourth-place in the Western Conference. The Lakers, currently leading the Pacific Division, sit one game ahead of the Clippers and the fifth-place Grizzlies are two games behind.
"We came out very aggressive tonight," Paul said. "They started making a few shots and made it a game. We did a good job of holding on."
Turning Point: The Clippers were up just four to start the fourth quarter when Paul scored their first seven points of the quarter and then found Eric Bledsoe for a fast-break dunk. The Warriors would get no closer for the rest of the game.
"There always is (some danger)," Paul said. "Especially a team coming in here playing like that with nothing to lose. … Our defense let up. We assumed our offense was what got us that lead but it was our defense."
Stat Line of the Night: Paul shot 12-of-17 from the field, hitting all three of his 3-point attempts, and finished with 28 points and 13 assists.
More Stats: Paul was one of three Clippers who had exceptionally hot shooting days. DeAndre Jordan hit 6-of-7 shots in the first half and finished with 18 points on 8-of-11 shooting, the most points he's had in a game since Feb. 4 and one off his season high.
Blake Griffin shot 9-of-14 from the field for 20 points and also grabbed nine rebounds. Bledsoe keyed the Clippers' fourth-quarter surge with some athletic plays. The 6-foot-1 guard jammed in a dunk on an open fast break to put the Clippers up eight, then skied to block 6-foot-10 Warriors center Jeremy Tyler at the rim. Bledsoe finished with 5 points, 2 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 blocks.
Nate Robinson had a season-high 28 points, leading four Warriors who topped 20 points scoring.
Hot: The Warriors 3-point shooting, the key reason they hung around with the Clippers for so long. Golden State made 15 of their 31 tries from deep, a season high for a Clippers opponent and nearly tying the record for most 3-pointers surrendered by the Clippers (16).
Not: The Clippers from the free-throw line. Warriors head coach Mark Jackson turned to one of his favorite tactics, the intentional hack, and the Clippers paid the price for not making free-throws. As a team they shot 14-of-30 from the line. Jordan, once again a target of Golden State's strategy to hack, shot 2-of-5 from the line but said the team still maintained confidence that the free throws will fall.
"I know we all have confidence in each other that in the clutch, we'll knock those down," Jordan said.
On giving up the lead:
Vinny Del Negro: "Our second unit came in and let [Golden State] get some confidence. Dorell Wright, Klay Thompson and of course Nate Robinson got them going. Our second unit did not do a great job controlling the lead. It was bothersome."
Paul: "That's been the story all season. It is what it is. These types of games right here, you just want to get a win and that's what we did. We'll move on from this one. We knew we had lost to them twice but we wanted it."
On the Clippers' free-throw shooting:
Jordan: "It was like a snowball effect. I missed a couple and then Blake missed a couple and then Kenyon did, and they just started fouling us."
On the future:
Jordan: "We don't want to look too far into the future and get off track. We're focused on these games and trying to get as many as we can to finish out the season strong."
Paul: "Sky's the limit. When we play the way we are capable of, we've already beaten some of the best teams in the league. We've just got to keep working."
David Lee (groin and hip) and Richard Jefferson (right knee) missed the game for Golden State... The Warriors now have the eighth-worst record in the NBA...Griffin received his 11th technical foul of the season in the first half. Collecting 13 technicals on the season carries a one-game suspension... Kenyon Martin hit his third 3-pointer of the season in the fourth quarter, a fadeaway from the corner as the shot clock expired... Four Warriors (Robinson, Wright, Thompson, and Brandon Rush) combined for 97 of their 104 points. The Warriors shot slightly better on 3-pointers (15-of-31, 48.4%) than the Clippers did free throws (14-of-30, 46.7%).
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