This is definitely a good news bad news thing. The good news is that the Clippers got the win. The bad news is that they lost their focus as the game went on. The truth is, the Warriors were so bad today, it's hard to imagine they could beat anyone - strange that they had won 6 of 9 coming in. And the Clippers played well in the first half. But a lackadaisical third quarter was followed by an embarrassing fourth, and although it goes down as a victory (the Clippers seventh in ten games), they'll get blown out of the building in their next two if they don't tighten things up.
Late in the first half, Baron Davis had ten assists and one turnover - he finished with 11 and 4. Eric Gordon scored 21 points in the first half on 7 for 10 shooting - he went 1 for 8 in the second half. The Warriors play a helter skelter style, and aren't great defenders, and that can bring out the best or the worst in their opponents. Well, after halftime, it brought out the worst.
The Clippers maintained a double digit lead the entire second half, so it's not as if the game ever got uncomfortably close. Maybe they would have regrouped and re-established control if they had ever needed to. Then again, when the Warriors made a 10-0 run late, the Clippers were unable to regain their composure. It didn't burn them in this game, but it has in others, and I'm certain it will again.
The low point was when Baron went behind his back into a hook shot lob - which he proceeded to throw over the backboard. We all know what a difference it makes for Baron and for the team when he is having fun out there on the court - but this is still the NBA, not an And-One tape. Of his second half turnovers, at least two were ill-advised lobs, and he got bailed out on another one when a foul was called on Lee.
In the end, the Clippers shot under 40% and comitted 17 turnovers - those are not numbers that are going to win a lot of games. In fact, they won this game at the line and rebounding. The shot 43 free throws compared to 28 for the Warriors, and the outscored them there 33 to 20, accounting for almost all of the final margin. And they outrebounded the Dubs 52 to 44. Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan did the damage we've grown accustomed to with 12 and 13 rebounds respectively, but you also have to credit Ike Diogu (8 rebounds in 14 minutes) and Jarron Collins (2 rebounds in 6 minutes).
But the Warriors were just not into this game for some reason. These Sunday afternoon games, especially when the crowd is small as it was today, can be lifeless affairs. From the opening tip, there just wasn't any energy in the arena. Stephen Curry got two quick fouls, and when he finally returned for a few minutes in the second quarter, he shot an airball, which just doesn't happen to him. He finished the game 2 for 13 overall and 0 for 6 from deep. Monta Ellis wasn't much better, shooting 4 for 19 and 0 for 5. And as bad as Curry and Ellis were, David Lee was far worse. He had twice as many fouls (6) and as many turnovers as he had rebounds (3 each).Ostensibly, Ellis, Curry and Lee are Golden State's three best players - when those guys combine to shoot 8 for 38, you pretty much have to win.
Blake recorded his 23rd consecutive double double (a franchise record) and his 12th straight 20-10, registering 23 points and 12 boards. He was 9 for 11 from the line, which was nice to see. He looks more comfortable at the stripe to me right now, and I wouldn't be surprised if he shoots around 70% the rest of the season. He also almost single handedly got the Warriors bigs into foul trouble. In addition to Lee fouling out, Andres Biedrins was also disqualified with six fouls, and Dorell Wright and Vladimir Radmanovic each picked up 5.
Wright was the only guy who showed up for the Dubs tonight, and he was great. He scored 27 on 9 for 15 shooting, including 5 for 6 from deep.
These two teams meet again Friday night in Oakland. The Warriors will NOT play this poorly again, and will doubtless have a little something to prove in that game. The Clippers should beat them - I just think they're the better team - but they'll have to play better than they did today.
Bizarre Whistle of the Game and DJ in the Key Watch: I get to combine these two features today, because the one and only time that DeAndre was called for three seconds (actually, an illegal defense in this case) was also a bit of a bizarre whistle. I've ranted many time about how much I dislike the defensive three second rule - the enforcement is poor at best, and more often than not, the refs are calling infractions on players who are simply playing smart help defense. The rules theoretically exists to keep teams from playing packed in zones, but rarely is it called in that situation. In fact, it occurred to me the other day that you could actually be called for a defensive three second call while playing on ball defense. Let's say Ben Wallace or some other non-shooter has the ball at 18 feet straightaway. There's no point in defending him there, so you're going to play off of him. If you back off into the key, by the letter of the law, you could be called for a defensive three (although I must admit I don't believe I've ever seen that called).
The rule says that you can't be in the key for three seconds without being in arm's length of an offensive player. If you get out of the key, or if you get close enough to an opponent, the count restarts. When the whistle blew today, DJ was playing the center of the Clippers zone, and he had just touched Andris Biedrins. OK, I'll admit, I don't know that he actually touched him, but he reached out to him, he was right there, and DJ certainly seemed to think that he'd done enough to avoid the call based on his reaction. And this, perhaps more than anything, is what I dislike about the rule. It forces the players into this grade school game of tag - I touched you! No you didn't!- that has nothing to do with basketball. Just let them play whatever defense they want. It hasn't ruined college basketball or international basketball to allow pure zones.
Kudos to DJ, by the way. Since we instituted the DJ in the Key watch, he's been doing much better.