The Golden State Warriors made a valiant effort in front of the raucous Oracle Arena crowd to come back from an 18-point deficit, but a late Stephen Curry heave was just short of the rim, and the Clippers were able to survive and take game three of the series 98-96.
The Clippers were led on offense by another stellar performance from All-Star Blake Griffin and Center DeAndre Jordan. Griffin and Jordan just manhandled the Warriors frontcourt with Griffin scoring 32 points and grabbing eight rebounds. DeAndre Jordan dropped in 14 points with 22 rebounds.
The Warriors scoring attack was led by Klay Thompson with 26 points, but the Achilles heel of the season reared its ugly head on Thursday night as the team committed 17 turnovers and was a frigid 6-31 from beyond the arc in the losing effort.
For the first time in the series, the Warriors found themselves not looking at a double-digit deficit to start the game and were able to feed off of the strong vibes of the crowd to take an early five-point advantage.
Clippers coach Doc Rivers stopped this quickly and had his team dial up the pressure on the Warriors backcourt. This tactic worked effectively as the Warriors committed ten turnovers in the first half and found themselves trailing at the half 46-43.
At the end of the first half the Warriors were only 1-12 from beyond the arc while shooting 37% from the floor. The biggest reason that Golden State was only down by three was due to the fact that the Clippers were ice cold from the free throw line going just 6-14 from the charity stripe.
The third quarter was a different story completely. Blake Griffin came out on fire in the second half and scored ten points in a row by himself. The Clippers were able to ride this momentum and increased their lead to 18 at 68-50 with seven minutes remaining in the quarter.
Warriors coach Mark Jackson gave an impassioned speech during a time out and challenged his team to “find their heart” and get back into the game. The Warriors took the challenge and went on a 10-0 run to make the game a much smaller deficit.
In the fourth quarter, the Warriors just kept chipping away at the lead and at one point only trailed 87-86 behind late three-pointers from All-Star Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson. However the Clippers had an answer with a 7-0 run behind two quick jumpers from All-Star Chris Paul that put the Clippers up 94-86 with 2:40 remaining in the game.
The game seemed in-hand for the Clippers, but the pesky Warriors just would not go away. The Warriors fought back, and with a late Chris Paul miss from the free throw line and with eight seconds remaining, the Warriors had a chance to win the game. Curry finally was able to gain a little separation from Paul, but his shot just landed short of the rim, and the Clippers escaped Oracle with the narrow win.
After the game, Warriors Coach Mark Jackson said, “we turned the basketball over too much. This series is a chess match, and we will make the moves that will be more successful for our team”.
The Warriors will look to even up the series and gear up for game four on Sunday at 12:30pm on ABC.
Notes: This was the first win for the Clippers at Oracle since Christmas night in 2011…. Many notable personalities were in attendance at the game: former Giants slugger Barry Bonds, Michigan State coach Tom Izzo, and former Warriors guards Jarrett Jack and Kent Bazemore.