Los Angeles Clippers – Back in the Driver’s Seat

Chris Paul

It seems like keeping Blake Griffin out of foul trouble means the world for the Los Angeles Clippers, led by their star power forward to a rare road playoff victory, beating the Golden State Warriors 98-96 despite a late surge in the final quarter with Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson finally finding their stroke from beyond the arc, but not enough to deny the Clippers taking a 2-1 lead in the series.

How close was it? Stephen Curry pulled up for a 3-pointer that could have won the game, but Chris Paul made just enough contact to disturb him and not let it be called a foul, as Curry was way short of the rim, falling on his back, half in disappointment from missing and half expecting it to be a call for a foul. Paul put his hand to nudge Curry on his hip and maybe slightly touched his elbow with his other arm. I don’t think we want to see soft contact like that decide games.

Griffin finished with 32 points and 8 rebounds, and if it wasn’t for his awful day from the line (2-of-9), it wouldn’t have come down to one final shot from Curry. The Clippers had a rough day from the line with only 43% on account of Griffin and DeAndre Jordan, but luckily for them the Warriors only started hitting 3-pointers in the final quarter. Mark Jackson continues to look too relaxed with his team’s struggling offense, but isn’t trying to change anything. As if there’s nothing to change.

His team was led by Klay Thompson with 26 points, but they shot an awful 19.4% from beyond the arc. It wasn’t just bad luck or off-day in shooting. The Clippers moved better on defense, making the switches on screens and reacting accordingly to shifts unlike their first game, making it tough for the Warriors to knock down shots, contesting almost each and every one. The Warriors jumped from 19% from 10 feet or more through the first three quarters to 43% in the fourth quarter, but that late run and discovery of their shooting ability just wasn’t enough.

Chris Paul was struggling early on but did manage to finish with 15 points including a huge, long 3-pointer in the fourth quarter. J.J. Redick scored 14 points and so did DeAndre Jordan, not seeing too much resistance under the rim. Curry scored 16 points on 5-of-12 from the field, adding 15 assists. The “Curry scored under 20 and the Warriors win” theory exploded in everyone’s faces as well.

Draymond Green has a history with Blake Griffin, and was called for a flagrant foul on him during the fourth quarter. The funny thing? That foul reminded the Warriors about their toughness and of how they should be playing. It might have cost them some points, but it sparked a 10-3 run that put the Warriors back in the game, almost snatching it away from the Clippers. Still, just about enough big plays on offense were enough to take back the home court advantage, while the Warriors need to move past the non-call on Paul and Curry at the end, and figure out how to look better offensively while finding ways to slow down Griffin without being dirty about it.

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