After a thrilling game one, the Warriors came into Staples Center looking to take a commanding two-game lead back to Oakland.
Well, one out of two ain’t bad I guess.
In a game that couldn’t have had any more of a different feel from game one, the Clippers executed to near perfection and were able to keep their stars on the floor, dismantling the Warriors 138-98.
Right out of the gate, it was clear that LA was going to play physically and aggressive on defense, especially on Stephan Curry. Any time Curry touched the ball, he was instantly be double-teamed and often struggled to pass out of the long arms of the Clippers defenders. Curry had only one field goal attempt in the first quarter and didn’t score his first basket until there was 2:45 remaining in the first half.
While the Warriors often looked out of sync on offense, especially when Curry sat to get a breather in the first half, it was their defense that let them down this game. The Clippers made it clear that their game plan was to go to Blake Griffin early and often at the beginning of possessions. Griffin had his way with whatever undersized player was on him, backing down for hook shots, turning and facing for drives, or even popping out for long jumpers. This was a game where the lack of an inside defensive presence was blatantly obvious, and Andrew Bogut must be irate knowing he can’t be on the floor to help his teammates.
The second half proved to be not much different from the first, with Griffin leading the way for the Clippers, finishing with 35 points on 13-of-17 shooting, including nine-of-ten on free throws. If the Warriors are going to respond and win game three in Oakland, they will need an answer for Griffin, who simply looked unguardable during stretches.
The high point of the night came for the Warriors during the 3rd quarter, when Curry began to wake up and dissect the Clippers defense like Golden State fans have become accustomed to all season. He quietly put together 20 points in the quarter on 72% shooting, with one basket coming off what appeared to be a Griffin foul with no call from the referee. Curry had been knocked around all night, but the oft-reserved guard had enough and began jawing at the referees, receiving his first technical foul of the entire season.
Curry would finish with 24 points, and no other Warriors was able to contribute more than 11.
“It was a rough game all the way around. It seems like everybody kinda lost their matchup today, starters and bench guys,” said David Lee after the game.
Ultimately the Warriors did their job by winning one out of two in LA and taking home court, but Monday’s game will leave a bitter taste in the mouth of the Warrior’s players.
“Overall mission accomplished taking back home court in these two games. Just not the kind of performance we wanted tonight,” remarked Lee.