This game had pretty much everything, and not all of it was pretty — the officiating and jerseys in particular. The Warriors and Clippers like each other even less than before tonight’s game, a 105-103 victory for Golden State, something that didn’t seem possible.
Hopefully Jon Barry of ESPN is over the ejection of Blake Griffin, because despite the power forward’s fourth quarter absence and a conclusion that was incredibly sloppy, this game was pretty danged entertaining.
The Clippers jumped out to an early lead and the Warriors mounted a comeback that started with a three-pointer by Toney Douglas that he banked in from over 30 feet away in the final seconds of the first quarter, cutting the Clippers’ lead to eight. He was fouled by Matt Barnes on the play and missed the free throw, but the Warriors won the second quarter 29-23 and the stage was set for a competitive game.
It turned chippy, as well. Draymond Green was ejected after getting into it with Griffin at the end of the third quarter after committing a flagrant 2 foul. Griffin was assessed a technical foul, and less than a minute into the fourth quarter he became entangled with Andrew Bogut. Despite Barry repeatedly claiming that Griffin didn’t do anything at all, he and Bogut were both clutching and grabbing each other’s sleeved jerseys. Bogut was almost certainly baiting Griffin to a certain extent, but it worked. After a long look at the replay, the officials gave Griffin his second technical foul.
The game was a back-and-forth affair throughout the fourth quarter, when Harrison Barnes scored nine of his 14 points. The Warriors got to the line far more often than usual, as 11 of the Warriors’ 30 points scored in the final quarter came on free throws. Stephen Curry, who shot poorly throughout most of the game, scored seven points in 65 seconds to give the Warriors a 103-101 lead. Two made free throws each by Chris Paul and Barnes set the stage for one of the strangest final minutes in recent memory.
Over the last 61 seconds, the Clippers missed five shots, Barnes airballed a pull-up jumper at the top of the key, and Andre Iguodala missed two free throws after shooting an incredulous look at Klay Thompson (a 78.2% FT shooter) after Thompson rebounded a wayward layup attempt by Paul with 10 seconds left and hot-potatoed it to Iguodala (who’s shooting 60.5% from the line this season).
Thompson made up for the error in judgment by swatting Paul’s 7-foot attempt out of bounds. With a second left, Jamal Crawford missed a desperation heave from 28 feet away. But the drama didn’t end there! Bogut ended up with the ball, and Paul came over and swatted it away. Bogut didn’t like that, and the teams held one last discussion near midcourt. Stephen Jackson was jawing at the Warriors, and Brian Scalabrine stepped in as a peacemaker. Kent Bazemore hopped sideways to rev up the crowd, almost like Eli Whiteside against the Phillies.
Afterward, the Clippers fumed. They left Oracle believing that the Warriors resorted to dirty tactics to even up what they perceive to be a fairly severe talent disparity.
Doc Rivers on the Warriors: “I don’t think it us tonight, honestly. I think we were kicking their butts, and they went to something else.”
— Rusty Simmons (@Rusty_SFChron) December 26, 2013
“When you look at it, I didn’t do anything, and I got thrown out of the game,” said Griffin. “To me, it’s cowardly basketball.”
The Warriors and Clippers face each other two more times this season: on Jan. 30 at Oracle and at Staples on Mar. 12, so mark your calendars.
Neither game will feature the Warriors in sleeves, which Curry would probably never wear again during a game if given the choice. Curry went 5-for-17 (2-for-6 from three) and scored 15 points on Christmas against the Clippers. The Warriors have played eight games with the t-shirt jerseys, and Curry has gone 49-for-137 (35.8%) from the field and 19-for-59 (32.2%) from three-point range while averaging 17.9 ppg in those games. Without sleeves, Curry has shot 45.8% overall and 45.3% on threes over the past two seasons while scoring 23.5 ppg. Curry has failed to make a three in six games over the past two seasons (105 games), and the Warriors were wearing the sleeved jerseys in two of those games.
Here’s his reaction when I asked him about the jerseys before the Warriors wore them for the first time, back on Feb. 22 against the Spurs (a game where Curry went 6-for-17 from the field and 3-of-9 on threes).