Notebook: Warriors 109, Clippers 105
April 20, 2014INDIANA SPORTS PAGE
NBA PRESS RELEASE
THE FACT: The Clippers lost for the first time this season when holding a lead in the fourth quarter.
THE LEAD: The Los Angeles Clippers and their swelling fan base firmly believe it's time to show the rest of the NBA that they deserve to be considered among the league's elite. The Warriors obviously have other plans. Golden State shook off a slow start and held off a frantic finish by the third-seeded Clippers to escape with a 109-105 victory Saturday afternoon in Game 1 of their Western Conference first-round game at Staples Center.
QUOTABLE: "We had a tremendous will, but this series is far from over."
THE STAT: The Warriors were without their best rebounder on the season, 7-foot center Andrew Bogut, but still managed to outrebound the Clippers, 68-50.
TURNING POINT: The Clippers fought back from 10 points down early in the fourth quarter to tie the score at 105 on two free throws by Blake Griffin with 1:31 left in the game. The Clippers then forced a shot-clock violation on Golden State and all the momentum looked to be on L.A.'s side, but from there it was just one missed opportunity after another for the Clippers. Griffin fouled out on the next trip down the floor after missing twice in close. Clippers point guard Chris Paul then stole the ball from Klay Thompson, but Darren Collison lost his dribble out of bounds heading the other way. Stephen Curry then missed a jumper for the Warriors, but teammate Draymond Green secured the offensive rebound, was fouled and made two free throws for a two-point advantage with 24 seconds left. Paul then lost another dribble out of bounds and the Clippers also lost their second straight video review. L.A. still had a chance to tie after Harrison Barnes made one of two free throws to extend the lead to three with 13.9 seconds remaining, but Paul missed two free throws after he was intentionally fouled. Still, the Clippers had life after Green missed two free throws with 10 seconds on the clock, but Collison stepped out of bounds after running down the loose ball. Thompson finally secured the win by making one of two from the line for a 109-105 lead.
HOT: The Warriors got their usual solid production from Thompson (22 points) and David Lee (20 points, 13 rebounds), but it was starting center Jermaine O'Neal who probably gave them their biggest lift. Starting in place Bogut, who remained in Northern California with a fractured rib, O'Neal scored 12 of his 13 points in the second half on 6-for-8 shooting. J.J. Redick gave the Clippers a nice boost with a playoff career-high of 22 points on 8-for-11 from the floor, including 4-for-5 from 3-point range. Clippers center DeAndre Jordan had a solid line of 11 points, 14 rebounds, five blocked shots and two huge free throws after he was intentionally fouled with just over three minutes remaining, but his overall performance was dinged by seven turnovers. Glen Davis was the best reserve on the floor for both teams, as the backup forward for L.A. played with superb energy and finished with nine points, six rebounds and three steals in 22 minutes.
NOT: The Warriors missed their first eight field-goal attempts to fall behind 12-1, but few in the arena expected that cold spell to last. They also committed seven turnovers in the opening quarter and that sloppiness did continue, as they finished with 21. Curry scored 14 points for Golden State, 10 points below his average, and he was nowhere to be found in the final quarter, missing all five of his field-goal attempts and committing three of his seven turnovers in that span. Outside of Davis, the bench for L.A. was completely out of sorts. Jamal Crawford made a half-court shot to end the first quarter, but otherwise missed his other nine field-goal attempts before scoring on a drive midway through the fourth quarter. Crawford would normally get playing time over Collison down the stretch, but his erratic play kept him on the bench and Collison showed he probably wasn't ready for that big of a moment. Paul scored a game-high 28 points, but the 85.5-percent free-throw shooter on the season missed three free throws that would have made a difference.
GOOD MOVE: The Warriors tried to go small against the Clippers in the first half by playing O'Neal for just four minutes, but the Clippers didn't follow suit by sitting Jordan. Instead, the 6-foot-11 center was one of the most dominant players on the floor in the first half, posting nine points, eight rebounds and all five of his blocked shots while playing a team-high 23 minutes. That forced the Warriors to play O'Neal more in the second half and that paid dividends for Golden State. Unlike most teams in the league, the Warriors have a good method of defending Paul. Thompson guarded Paul for most of the game and benefited from his seven-inch height advantage. In the first half alone, Paul missed all five of his field-goal attempts when shadowed by Thompson, but shot 6-for-7 when guarded by others.
BAD MOVE: The Warriors were already down one starter and were pretty much without another when Andre Iguodala battled foul trouble the entire game. He picked up two in the first 2:10 of the game, but Jackson elected to keep him on the floor and he was called for No. 3 with 3:35 still left in the opening quarter. Jackson then rolled the dice and reinserted Iguodala with just under nine minutes remaining in the first half and he promptly picked up No. 4 about three minutes later after trying to swipe the ball out of Matt Barnes' hands. Less than three minutes into the second half, Iguodala was whistled for No. 5 on a charge and finally fouled out with just over three minutes left in the game, finishing with eight points and one rebounds in 21 minutes. Clippers coach Doc Rivers did a better job of trying to protect Griffin after he picked up two fouls in the game's first five minutes. He put him back in to start the second quarter but Griffin picked up a charge 30 seconds later and was banished back to the bench for the rest of the half. He avoided fouling for most of the third quarter, but then picked up Nos. 4 and 5 in the final two minutes, putting him back on the bench.
QUOTABLE II: "It's tough to get your rhythm when you go in and out like that and you only play 19 minutes. I'm sure that Blake would like to have a couple of those fouls back. You can't waste fouls."
NOTABLE: Jordan's five blocks is one short of the franchise record for a playoff game. ... The last time the sixth-seeded teams in both conferences won their playoff opener was in 2009, when the 76ers and Mavericks won their openers. ...
UP NEXT: Game 2, Monday @ L.A. Clippers, Game 3, Thursday @ Golden State, Game 4, April 27 @ Golden State.