Clippers survive Curry’s 50-point win over Warriors
Slipping into San Francisco late Monday afternoon to Chris Paul of the Phoenix team, Stephen Curry won the basket and took the last word.
“It’s not 2014 anymore,” the Golden State star told his longtime fighter as the cameras rolled.
Paul later claimed to be unaware of the reference, but on his podcast, Curry’s Warriors teammate Draymond Green explained its hidden meaning – it’s been a long time since Paul was considered a better player.
The remark was made inside the Chase Center. It was felt in the hearts Clippers.
Nine years ago, led by Paul at point guard, the Clippers were on the rise. Even the aftermath of former owner Donald Sterling’s suspension on the eve of the postseason was not enough to stop them from winning the first-round series against Curry and Golden State.
But while the Clippers never got past the postseason hump, Golden State has since conquered the top of the NBA mountain four times. The 2014 streak against Paul and the Clippers remains the last seven-game streak the Warriors lost to a Western Conference opponent. Even in the 2022-23 Jekyll & Hyde season, in which the Warriors go 29-7 at home and went 7-26 on the road on Wednesday, the Warriors remain the benchmark by which all Western rivals are judged, and behind them lies the last video game boss. Curry’s ubiquitous potential for an offensive eruption.
If Wednesday’s meeting of the teams at the Crypto.com Arena was a psychological test, it was also, more importantly, pragmatic.
With the teams coming out with equal records and the Clippers needing a win to keep their tiebreaker hope alive, Curry, Klay Thompson and Jordan Pool were the perfect stress test to gauge if the Clippers and the improved defense underpinning their three-game winning streak was for real.
They answered with 134-126 victorya fourth straight win in which Kawhi Leonard and coach Tyrone Liu praised the team’s composure amid Curry’s individual show as he finished with 50 points on 20 of 28 shots, including eight 3-pointers.
“It’s not the first time I’ve seen [Steph] explode like that in a quarter,” Leonard said. “Being there early, it sort of helps you focus on the moment.”
On their five-game losing streak since last year’s All-Star break, sure wins have faded into moments of clutching. They turned it around to start a new series. In the second half, the Clippers made only one loss. They grabbed 16 offensive rebounds. Russell Westbrook played perhaps his most disciplined game of his time with the Clippers with zero losses.
The victory split the Clippers (37-33) and the Warriors (36-34) in the standings and once again demonstrated the positive results of the final line-up, which included Eric Gordon (16 points) and Terence Mann (17 points) along with Ivica Zubak ( 19 points, 16 rebounds), Leonard (30 points) and Paul George (24 points, 7 assists).
“I think we’re starting to recognize our tendencies, to know when someone is going to pass you the ball or they’re going to cut you – there are a lot of things that are chemistry and are created by playing with each other.” Leonard said.
Over the course of three quarters, a pattern developed with Golden State winning the opening minutes through backhands and strikes, forcing Liu to take a quick timeout. The Clippers then stabilize and leave, usually as a result of their defense, before being pushed back by Curry and the Warriors for a wild finish.
Following Liu’s timeout two minutes into the third quarter after the Warriors’ 7–0 series, the Clippers went on to a 16–2 series again, aided again by their defense. When George rebounded off Green’s miss, he found Gordon for a quick 27-foot three. As Zubak slid forward to deflect a layup attempt by Kevon Looney, Westbrook grabbed a loose ball and found Gordon again, this time for a 24-foot three-pointer and a 10-point lead. Gordon started the second half behind starting forward Marcus Morris Sr. was sent off late in the second quarter for hitting Green above the shoulders.
They were a reminder that the most striking element of their turnaround was not only that the defense, which had been weakened since late December, returned, but reappeared at critical moments.
Since Memphis scored a season-high 51 points in a quarter, the Clippers have kept opponents at 40% shooting or worse in seven of the past nine quarters leading up to Wednesday. And Memphis, Toronto and New York have combined 31% in the fourth quarter of those three straight Clippers wins.
But, as has been the case for much of the last decade, Curry stood between the Clippers and what they wanted.
Starting with his score at 4:51 to play in the third quarter, the NBA’s best three-point king scored the Golden State’s next 12 points. dropped when he topped 41 points. The Warriors hit 65% in the second quarter and 60% in the third as Curry made nine of 11 shots. They finished with 55% shooting, and yet the Clippers’ lead grew to 12 early in the fourth quarter, helped by Mann doing everything, everywhere, everything at once – picking up two offensive rebounds during possession, which he ended with a pass. and foul, scoring a goal. again, then drawing a foul on offense at Golden State before flexing.
Then Curry returned. In 72 seconds, the Warriors scored six points, and the Clippers’ willingness to complete the job was once again in question, as was George’s ability to avoid being sent off with five fouls.
But the Clippers didn’t allow a single point from 3:41 remaining to 1:13, a position that extended their lead from six to 13, and with it their winning streak.