The Warriors were missing their starting frontline and two of their key reserves, and still went down to LA, on the second game of a back-to-back, and handled the Clippers 133-120 on Thursday.
It was the ninth straight time the Warriors have beaten the Clippers, but this one had to be one of the most demoralizing for the Clippers. Yes, LA was without Chris Paul, but the Warriors were missing starting center Zaza Pachulia, starting power forward Draymond Green, Shaun Livingston and David West. And they had played the night before in Oakland, a 126-101 win over Charlotte.
One of the constants during the Warriors’ winning streak over the Clippers is that they have been able to consistently win the battle of the interior. Whether it’s been Andrew Bogut at center, like in years past, or Zaza Pachulia this year — when you put either one of them alongside Draymond Green Golden State has had the advantage against DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin.
So, you would think that Thursday would have been the night for the Clippers to exert themselves on the inside, as the Warriors were without Pachulia and Green. Not to mention, the Clippers were without Chris Paul so you’d figure an additional burden should fall on the Clippers’ front line, considered a strength. But a funny thing happened on the Clippers’ way to a big night: it didn’t happen. Or it certainly didn’t happen to the extent LA was looking for.
Sure, Griffin’s boxscore line looked fine: 31 points and eight rebounds, but he was hardly dominant and it seemed like just about every bucket came with the Clippers down 15 or so points. And he had his share of travails at the other end, trying to defend Kevin Durant at times. Durant was at the center of the Warriors’ offense, finishing with 26 points, 10 assists and eight rebounds.
In the first quarter, Jordan and Griffin didn’t get a rebound between them, and it wasn’t until the second quarter that they became noticeable at all. Griffin had 16 points by halftime, but he was giving up just as many as he was getting on the other end, with Durant getting 17 points, seven assists and six rebounds in the first half.
Late in the second quarter, the Warriors began to foul Jordan intentionally — when they were up 47-42 with 3:31 remaining. Jordan finished the first half 5-for-8 from the foul line, which he’ll take any day of the week, but it didn’t stop the Warriors from going into the halftime break up 65-55. The Warriors maintained that lead, and then some, for the bulk of the second half.
The Warriors also found a way to win the battle of the boards, 46-37, despite being short-handed.