Steph Curry’s spark, Warriors superior bench and habit of winning make the difference against Clippers

first_img Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error PHOTOS: See Warriors-Clippers galleryGranted, there were more than a few Warriors aficionados at Staples Center, but you don’t have to be from the Bay Area, or even be a fan of Evan Hunter’s books about fearsome herds of cats, to appreciate Stephen Curry and the Flying W’s. The crowd would have erupted at any point in the final minutes if the Clippers had made open shots or failed to commit cataclsymic fouls, like when Matt Barnes decked Andre Igoudala during a 3-point shot in front of the Clippers bench.Igoudala made all three tries, and Golden State led by four points with a minute left.Griffin, as irresistible as he was, had a layup blocked by Golden State’s Andrew Bogut with 3:31 left and the Warriors leading by two. But the really troublesome part was the beginning of the fourth quarter, with Paul and Griffin on the bench, and Golden State punching its way to a 9-0 run behind reserve forward Mareese Speights.“I still like our chances in a 7-game series against anybody,” Griffin said. “There was no championships won tonight. We won seven in a row and lost this one, so I don’t think that’s terrible. “When you play Golden State you can’t make defensive mistakes. The key is taking away their easy shots, the open 3-pointer they get. They always make you pay when you let down on defense. I felt good physically, but I still need to work on my rotations, the places for me to be.”It took the Warriors a while to figure out why they were here. They have already clinched the top record in the West and are now 61-13. They also have the fifth best point-differential of any team in NBA history. Three of the four teams ahead of them won NBA championships — the ‘72 Lakers, ‘96 Bulls, and ‘71 Bucks. The other one, the ‘72 Bucks, had Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Oscar Robertson.So winning is pretty much a habit with them. “We were sleepwalking early,” Klay Thompson said, “but then we finally got into a rhythm.” The play that visibly charged up the Warriors’ bench was a solo performance by Stephen Curry, in which he drove the lane, dribbled back out, and pivoted so quickly that Chris Paul — the all-defense Chris Paul — sprawled on his back, as if in need of chiropractic help. Curry then faded back to hit a baseline shot, and cyberspace crackled with the image of Curry toying with Paul.“That play might have kicked us into gear,” Golden State coach Steve Kerr said.“You get a little adrenalin rush,” Curry said, “so those are cool moments, but I’m just glad I hit the shot. I didn’t see it, but I heard the bench reaction was really crazy.”“He’s got a great handle,” Paul said, with a slight laugh, “as you saw tonight. He uses his screens really well. About three times, I was right in his chest and he made the shots anyway.”That said, Curry and Paul basically had the same game, each scoring 27. Although Bogut was brilliant with his outlet passing and his rim defense, helping hold DeAndre Jordan to one field goal, the game was really won by the Golden State bench, which outscored the Clipper reserves 34-12.This is a function of Jamal Crawford’s injury, and he will be back soon, in some capacity. “It really wasn’t fair tonight,” Rivers said, “because I probably played our starters too long and they got tired.”Every L.A. starter, in fact, played at least 38 minutes, and that’s coming off an Eastern trip, with a tester at Portland tonight.“If you stay tuned, I’ve got Damien Lillard next,” Paul said. “It’s a point guard-driven league. Like my college coach (Wake Forest’s Skip Prosser) said, it’s a team game played by individuals.”And Rivers noted that Sunday night turned into Monday morning as the Clipppers were flying home from Boston.“They (Warriors) were out here for two days waiting on us,” Rivers said. “That’s what I love about the playoffs. Same amount of preparation, same amount of rest.”“We know we will run into Golden State down the line,” DeAndre Jordan said, momentarily forgetting the Clipppers will have to win at least one series first.Three facts:1. The Clipppers sold out their 181st consecutive home game Tuesday, the fifth-longest streak in the NBA.2. DeAndre Jordan hit two free throws with 1:26 to cut Golden State’s lead to one point.3. The Clippers shot 3 for 13 from the field in the fourth quarter and committed six turnovers.center_img [email protected] ANGELES >> The Clippers are being pulled by the league’s puppet strings, chasing the homecourt advantage from Boston to Portland. As Blake Griffin noted late Tuesday night, it might not be worth catching.“The homecourt advantage is not looking good for us,” Griffin said flatly after his 40 points could not avert a 110-106 loss to a nemesis they share with the rest of the league, the Golden State Warriors.“If this is how it’s going to be in the playoffs, it’s not looking good.”last_img

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