If the Clippers, sans Chris Paul and on the road against the best team in the league, had been outclassed from the outset by Golden State–perhaps the loss would have been easier to swallow. But Los Angeles was very aware of the previous nine losses to Golden State and took full advantage of the Warriors somewhat lackadaisical start to the first game post-All Star break. Which makes the casual ease in which Golden State turned a 12-point half-time deficit into a 12-point fourth quarter lead all the harder to swallow.
It’s easy to attribute this, and the other nine losses preceding it, to a “mental edge” the Warriors seem to enjoy over the Clippers. Yet the harsh reality may be that Golden State is just that much better. So much so that the Warriors had to show up for one quarter only in order to bury the Chris Paul-less Clippers. And the absence of Chris Paul obviously matters. Once again Los Angeles can hang its hat on the fact that they suffered such a loss at half strength. However the consistency with which Golden State hands Los Angeles these embarrassing losses, at full strength or no, speaks to the gap between these two squads.
Yes, the Clippers can comfort themselves by saying that if only they had not let the Warriors run away with the third quarter–perhaps the game would have ended differently. At the same time, it’s pretty damning that one quarter of negligence is all it takes for another team to make up a 12-point deficit and coast toward the end of the game.
Nobody expected the Clippers to win this game, and they played well for 75 percent of it. But moral victories mean little when you’re 0-10 against one of the only opponents in your conference that truly matters.
X-Factor: The Warriors put up 50 points in the third quarter. 50 points. 50. For context over how much the third quarter swung this game for the Warriors: Los Angeles outscored Golden State by 14 points outside of the third quarter.
Major Moment: Steph Curry’s brilliance feels more spread out this season, doled out in bursts that last five minutes every other game. The Clippers were (un)lucky enough to experience a mere 3:37 worth of brilliance as Steph scored 17 of his 35 points in the final four minutes of the third quarter, capped off by a “welp this game is over,” edge of the logo three pointer to end the quarter. The inevitability of the shot ripping through the net was emblematic of the creeping dread the Clippers must have felt throughout the entirety of this game.
The Definition: Chris Paul is due back within the next couple games and the Clippers should be at full strength for the first time since December. In the meantime, L.A. will have to pick up the pieces from yet another blown opportunity to prove themselves as true contemporaries of the Warriors and ready themselves to face another conference rival in the Spurs Friday night at Staples.