The Golden State Warriors visited STAPLES Center to take on the LA Clippers Wednesday night, and by the look at some of the stat lines, you would have thought things went well for LA.
Stephen Curry missed all 8 of his three-point attempts.
Kevin Durant shot under 30 percent from the field for the first time since February 2015, as a member of the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Klay Thompson scored less than half of what he scored in the previous game.
And the Clippers bench outscored the Warriors bench 57-30.
What matchup will prove to be Clippers biggest challenge tonight vs Warriors?
— ClipperBlog (@clipperblog) December 7, 2016
And yet, the NBA’s top offense still handled the NBA’s top defense. The Warriors still hung 115 points on the Clippers and blew them out by 17 points, leading by as may as 27 at one point. It marks the 7th straight win for the Warriors over the Clippers, and Steve Kerr is now 8-1 against the Clippers as Golden State’s head coach.
While the Warriors made only 7-of-30 threes (23.3 percent), they made 35-of-58 shots inside the arc (60.4 percent) for an overall FG percentage of 47.7 percent. And while Durant had an off night shooting from the field (5-of-17 FGs, 29.4 percent, including 1-of-5 threes), his frontcourt mate had his back. PF Draymond Green was the top performer, scoring 22 points on 8-of-10 from the field, making 3-of-5 threes and all 5 attempts inside the arc. Overall, the Warriors made a whopping 29-of-41 FGAs in the paint (70.7 percent), compared to LA making 19-of-40 FGAs in the paint (47.5 percent) – a 20-point difference.
— GoldenStateWarriors (@warriors) December 8, 2016
On the other hand, it was a rough night for LA PF Blake Griffin – arguably the worst of his career. Any real chance of the Clippers winning would mean Griffin having a big game offensively. Instead, Griffin had only 12 points on 5-of-20 from the field (25.0 percent) and a season-high 7 turnovers. Griffin only has one career game with more turnovers, and out of 88 career games with at least 20 field goal attempts, the 12 points scored were the fewest of his career and the 25.0 percent from the field the worst of his career.
He was 🚮. He's let Draymond out play him for 3 years now. This is why I say Dray is the best 4 in the NBA. https://t.co/pIaLubhlXV
— Nate Jones (@JonesOnTheNBA) December 8, 2016
All Blake Griffin should be thinking about the rest of the season is stopping and outplaying Draymond. That's the key to Clippers season.
— Nate Jones (@JonesOnTheNBA) December 8, 2016
“I turned the ball over, I put myself in those positions, I missed some easy shots, I forced some bad shots, not to take away from anything that they did,” Griffin said. “They played solid.
“If you want to take positive away from this experience, this isn’t the playoffs. So we have some work to do obviously. It’s a good lesson for us and I think we will be better because of it. We have to allow ourselves to learn from it.”
While Griffin struggled with turnovers, Curry was getting an NBA season-high 7 steals, many of which helped the Warriors outscore the Clippers 27-11 on the fastbreak. And while Curry struggled with the threes, he did make 7-of-8 FGAs inside the arc and scored 12 of his 19 points during a 1st quarter that saw Golden State lead 37-19.
And Curry wasn’t the only one to fail to make a three-pointer. Clippers SG J.J. Redick saw his streak of consecutive games with a three-pointer end at 77 as he was held to 2 points on 1-of-4 from the field and 0-for-2 from three. Chris Paul had 15 points on 7-of-14 from the field, but he only made 1-of-6 threes.
Durant’s shooting was poor, but he actually led the Warriors with 7 of the team’s 32 assists – and he did it without a single turnover. Thompson didn’t drop 60, but he still had a game-high 24 points, making 3-of-6 threes – Warriors not named Thompson and Green combined to shoot 1-of-19 from three at LA Wednesday night. While the Warriors starters shot only 37.0 percent from the field in 12 minutes on the floor together, that unit outscored the Clippers 29-14 while holding LA to 31.6 percent from the field and only 3 assists against 10 turnovers, compiling a net rating of 43.4 in the process. Most of those minutes directly coincided with LA’s starters, as they played 12 minutes together and compiled a net rating of -47.0 and an offensive rating of 56.0.
(For those wondering, the “Hamptons 5” unit of Iguodala with the starters was only on the court in this game for a minute in the 2nd quarter, outscoring the Clippers 7-3.)
“Defensively is where we won the game,” Durant said. “We were low in turnovers, high on assists, and our defense was there all night. We held them to 39 percent shooting and that’s the formula. Their team is a high scoring team and they’ve been playing defense very well. I think we got out, forced some turnovers, got some easy baskets when our offense wasn’t working and shots weren’t falling, and we defended at a high level. We made them play one-on-one and made them shoot tough shots all night.”
One additional note here, as the Clippers bench didn’t have PG Raymond Felton, who is on a leave of absence for personal/family reasons. LA shuffled the bench lineups, with Wesley Johnson and Alan Anderson getting into the rotation while Paul Pierce took a DNP-CD. The Clippers were at their best when Jamal Crawford and Austin Rivers mixed in with the starters, as that unit outscored Golden State 25-14 in 9 1st half minutes. Doc rarely went all bench, and that unit was roasted in the two 1st half minutes he tried.
“You go into a game that you really want to do well, things don’t go well for you, you lose it sometimes,” Doc Rivers said. “Like I keep saying, these games are all separate. Because we lost today, I’m not going to say it was connected to the Indiana [Pacers] thing. No, we just didn’t play well.”
These teams will see each other three more times over the next month. The Clippers, 2-5 since starting 14-2, have many improvements to make in that time. Perhaps no one is more aware of that then former Warriors C Marreese Speights:
Mo Speights didn't hold back when it came to the differences between the Warriors and Clippers pic.twitter.com/sw0TPMPDbi
— Bill Oram (@billoram) December 8, 2016