Five Takeaways: Third Quarter Dooms Clippers Thursday At Golden State
OAKLAND – The Clippers’ (35-22) four-game winning streak before the break ended in the first game out of it Thursday night, suffering their 10th straight loss to the Warriors (48-9), who swept the season series.
Here are five quick takeaways from the Clippers’ 123-113 loss.
Quote of the Night: “The other games they just beat us; I thought tonight we beat ourselves. I haven’t been able to say that in a long time versus them.” – Austin Rivers
1) Second quarter success puts Clippers in early driver’s seat– The Warriors jumped out to an early double-digit lead, but a 12-0 run to start the second quarter sparked by the Clippers’ backups was the start of a 30-11 run. The Clippers, coming off performances in which they held the Jazz to 72 points and the Hawks to 84 points, kept the Warriors scoreless the first four minutes of the second quarter.
Austin Rivers, who tied Jamal Crawford with a team-high 19 points on the night, drilled a step-back 3-pointer over Kevin Durant, then came up with a steal and found DeAndre Jordan for an alley-oop. All of a sudden, the Clippers transformed an early deficit into a 61-45 Clippers lead. “I thought we were super physical, and I thought being physical led to our offense,” Austin said. “We were attacking.”
But there were signs of some slippage late, with the Warriors getting to the line a couple times, an area the Clippers struggled most of the night, missing 11 free throws. Then, after a missed shot, DeAndre Jordan, who had 17 points and 11 rebounds in the loss, was whistled for a technical foul as he launched the ball the length of the court. Much like that attempt, the Clippers were off the mark the rest of the way.
2) Warriors put up 50 points in the third – The Warriors made more field goals in the third quarter (17) than they did the entire first half (16), starting the quarter 12-for-13 and finishing 17-for-23. It took less than half the quarter for the Warriors to erase a double-digit deficit and take the lead, 69-68.
Golden State made as many 3-pointers in the quarter (nine) as the Clippers had field goals, putting together the most points the Clippers had allowed in a quarter since surrendering 51 to the Nuggets in 1982. Stephen Curry hit five 3-pointers in the third quarter alone, ending it with his most ridiculous basket of the night, completely swarmed by defenders as his 30-plus-foot buzzer-beating attempt went through.
3) Offense, not defense, bothers Clippers more in rough quarter – Despite the Warriors scoring 50 points, it was the Clippers’ offense that bothered them most that quarter. Doc said he thought the ball went from side to side and the floor was spaced in the first half. “In the second half, the ball stayed in one spot, we didn’t move it, and then didn’t score,” Doc said. “I thought we got disappointed in our offense and it led to our defense. I’m a defensive coach, and it’s rare I’m going to say we gave up 50 in the third quarter, and I was more upset at our offense.”
That seemed to be the prevailing feeling in the locker room, as well. Blake Griffin said it was offensively where the Clippers’ spirit broke in the third quarter, and J.J. Redick said the bad offense led to the bad defense.
“I thought, for the most part, our half-court defense was good,” Redick said. “Steph hit some tough shots there in the third against our half-court defense, but when you’re consistently getting back, 3-on-2, 4-on-2 and having to make choices to give up layups or give up 3s, you’re going to lose somehow.
4) Brice Johnson makes NBA debut – Clippers rookie Brice Johnson made his NBA debut in the fourth quarter. Johnson, who had his jersey honored at the University of North Carolina during the All-Star break, had missed all season with a herniated disc in his back. The first round pick played three minutes and pulled down two rebounds.
5) Paul still out, but could close to return – Doc Rivers said Wednesday it was possible Chris Paul would play as early as Thursday in Golden State, but the Clippers decided to hold him out another game. “He looked good the last two days, but I thought he was a little hesitant,” Doc said. “He’s got to feel 100 percent.” Doc added that Paul’s iffy for Friday’s game, as well, but said Paul is “really close” and “will play in the next couple games, for sure.” Paul’s been out since Jan. 16 recovering from surgery for a torn ligament in his left thumb.
What’s Next? – The Clippers play Friday night at home against San Antonio.