FINAL | January 2, 2013 | Oracle Arena, Oakland, CA 

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94

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33

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115

 

Eric Patten

OAKLAND – Another streak has begun for the Clippers, this time, however, it’s of a less desirable kind.

After having their franchise record 17-game winning streak snapped a day earlier, the Clippers lost their second in a row Wednesday, 115-94, to the Golden State Warriors at Oracle Arena on the second game of a back-to-back.

It was the first time in league history the two teams played a January game while holding first and second place in the Pacific Division. The Clippers (25-8) own a tenuous 2.5-game lead over second-place Golden State (22-10).

The matchup had a bit of a playoff feel. The Warriors distributed white t-shirts that read “Warriors Whiteout” and chants of “Beat L-A” rang out towards the end of the third quarter.

“They hit us in the mouth first,” Chris Paul said. “We never really recovered. And it had a playoff-type feel to it. I didn’t shoot before the game today and came out for warm-ups and saw the ‘Whiteout’ and the energy was crazy in here.”

For the most part, the game was under Golden State’s control from early on. They seized a 26-8 lead with a dazzling array of shots by Harrison Barnes and Stephen Curry, who scored all but six of his 31 points in the first half. The Clippers 21-point loss is their worst of the season.

L.A. pulled to within four on two occasions, but each time the game seemed to get close the Warriors put together a flurry to extend their lead back to double-digits. For the second straight night, the Clippers were done in by a season-low performance shooting the basketball.

They went 36.3% from the field against the Warriors, 24 hours after shooting a then-season-low 38.5% in Denver. It was the first time the Clippers shot worse than 39% in back-to-back games since March 2012.

Clippers forward Caron Butler missed the game for personal reasons. He is expected to play Friday when the Clippers take on the Lakers in L.A.


Difference Maker: David Lee. The Warriors’ power forward made another statement toward his run at a second all-star appearance, approaching a triple-double and serving as a catalyst for nearly everything Golden State did in the half-court.

“It’s not about me,” Lee said. “I have confidence that I’m the best power forward in the league or up there and playing against a great player like Blake [Griffin] is just another challenge for me. I have confidence and my teammates gave me confidence to just play aggressive and keep playing aggressive throughout the whole game.”

Moment of Truth: The game was virtually even after the Warriors’ 26-8 start, but the early outburst from a sharp and rested Golden State team was a rallying point for the crowd. The Warriors fed off the first-quarter energy. Barnes had seven points in the run, while Curry and Thompson were electric from the 3-point arc, combining for three 3-pointers in a 2:00 span.

“They got a big run early,” Clippers head coach Vinny Del Negro said. “We did a poor job in our transition defense going for steals in the back it seemed like and they shot it well. We got it back a little bit manageable and they made another run another run at the half. Then in the third quarter we got some stops, but we really struggled to score the basketball tonight.”

Paul said the Warriors were spurred by the Clippers’ inability to make shots. “There were a few shots there early in the game that if those go down it changes the whole tempo of the game.”

Stat Line of the Night: 

Lee. He had 24 points on 9-of-16 shooting, defended Blake Griffin well the few times he was called upon, and added 13 rebounds and seven assists.

More Stats: 

Crawford. Prior to the game, Warriors head coach Mark Jackson praised Crawford’s contributions to the Clippers as one of the league’s top reserves. He scored a team-high 24 points with five assists. It was Crawford’s 13th game topping 20 points this season, best in the league among reserves. And he did so with a sore left foot, an injury he revealed after the game.

“I hurt it yesterday (against Denver),” Crawford said. “With Caron not here, missing Chauncey [Billups], missing Grant [Hill], I had no choice but to play. It’s a sprained foot, close to the ankle, too. It limits you a lot, that’s for sure.”

Barnes. In his return to the Bay Area, the former Warriors forward carried the Clippers offense in the first quarter. He scored 10 points in the first 12 minutes, making two 3-pointers and getting to the rim. He finished with 19 points, seven rebounds and three assists in 40:22.

Paul. The Clippers got in the bonus with more than eight minutes remaining in the third quarter, thanks in large part to Paul, who was named Western Conference Player of the Month prior for December prior to the game. He made 10 of his 12 free throw attempts and ended up with 23 points and six assists.

Hot: Curry’s first half. He scored 25 points in the first 24 minutes, including making nine of his first 10 shots, including a pull-up 3-pointer in transition where he dribbled around two defenders and used his quick release to fire a shot up from straightaway. He finished the night with 31 points, eight assists and six rebounds.

Not: Griffin. The two-time All-Star went 2-for-11 with 10 points, six rebounds, two assists, three steals and two blocks. It’s the third consecutive game Griffin has struggled to score. He is nine for his last 27 (33.3%) from the field and has failed to score more than 12 points in each of the last three games.   

“He didn’t have his best game, he’d say that, but it wasn’t just Blake it was everybody,” Del Negro said. “I didn’t think anybody played particularly well. We forced a lot of things.”

Quotables:

On the game:

Barnes: “Bottom line: they beat us to the punch in every aspect. We’ve got to get tougher mentally and physically.”

Del Negro: “It’s frustrating. I thought we’d give a better overall effort tonight.”

Griffin: “We just kind of hit a little bit of a wall. They completely outplayed us tonight in almost every area. Shooting-wise, they were unbelievable, but we had to expect that.”

On hard foul by Festus Ezeli in the third quarter:

Griffin: “[I fell on] my shoulder and head…It wasn’t like a flagrant play or malicious play by any means. It was just a bad situation, bad timing, I guess.”

On margin of victory:

Mark Jackson: “Let’s be fair, they played last night. We are a good basketball team and we were ready. When a good basketball team is sitting at home waiting for another team that worked the night before, this isn’t going to happen all the time, you impose your will.”

On facing the Warriors again Saturday:

Crawford: “We have to watch the tape. The good thing about it is we play this team again in a few days, so we can adjust and see how we can get better.”

Notes: The Clippers have allowed 229 points to the Warriors in two games this season and have lost both games… They fell to 6-5 when they fail to score 100 points… The Clippers’ bench scored 33 points. It is the fourth game in a row they have had 36 points or less… The Warriors out-rebounded the Clippers, 53-38.

 


 

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