With Chris Paul having an awful shooting night and Blake Griffin a little less accurate than usual, the Los Angeles Clippers still look dominant in the later stages of a big game against the Golden State Warriors, keeping the longest active winning streak in the NBA (nine games) alive with a 111-98 victory.
It was another big night for Griffin with 30 points and 15 rebounds. He became only the third player in NBA history with 6000 points, 3000 rebounds and 1000 assists through his first four seasons in the league, joining Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Charles Barkley. He might not have been smooth with his jumper, but it was very hard to stop him close to the basket, grabbing five offensive rebounds and adding a couple of more dunks to his very impressive collection.
Chris Paul had a very hard time when Klay Thompson was guarding him, finishign the game with 5-of-15 from the field, missing eight of his first nine shots. He still had 16 points to go with 8 rebounds and 12 assists, so it’s hard to call his performance weak. He was still displeased with his shooting, practicing on his shot long after the game was over.
The Warriors were able to hang on with the Clippers for most of the game, but an 11-minute stretch in the third and fourth quarters saw them score only 10 points compared with the 22 from the Clippers, and pretty much cost them the game. Stephen Curry continus to struggle, now six games in a row with less than 20 points. He did have 11 assists, but his 13 points weren’t enough for the Warrios, who needed a bit more of a scoring spark from their star player. Thompson with 26 and David Lee with 20 led the team.
It came down to the Clippers executing good offense when needed, moving the ball rather well and shooting 44.4% from beyond the arc thanks to that, while doing a good job defensively in key moments to keep the Warriors from going off on 3’s, hitting only 8-of-21 shots. Danny Granger had a great game from the bench with 18 points and 6 assists, one of seven Clippers in double figures: Matt Barnes and Darren Collison both had 11 points, DeAndre Jordan had a 10-11 triple double to go with his 6 blocks and Willie Green also made the most of his minutes, scoring 13 points.
The race for the top spot in the West and generally finding a high-as-possible seed in the West is alive and well with four teams in the running. The Clippers are three games behind the Spurs, two behind the Thunder and one ahead of the Rockets. With nine straight wins and a more complete look to them than ever before despite the injuries to Jamal Crawford and J.J. Redick, it’s hard not to think of the Clippers as championship contenders at this point, especially when winning like this against a good Warriors team without getting huge nights from Griffin and Paul.
Golden State, and not for the first time, showed that when it’s defense can’t handle certain players or styles, all the shooting in the world isn’t going to help, which is why they’re going to be playing more games on the road than at home in the playoffs, not making the kind of progress they expected to see after last season.