The Los Angeles Clippers lost Game 1 of their playoff series with the Golden State Warriors 109-105. They had 105 points after three quarters in Game 2. The final score is almost irrelevant (it was 138-98, fyi). The Clippers led by 11 after the first quarter. They led by 26 at halftime. The lead was never under 25 in the second half. It was a good old fashioned beat down.
The series is still tied of course, 1-1. A four point win is the same as a 40 point win in the calculus of the seven game series. But the Clippers are pretty clearly the better team, and they proved that in spades tonight.
Of course, they're not going to shoot 57% every game, nor make 12-25 three pointers. Danny Granger and Hedo Turkoglu aren't going to combine for 28 points on 17 shots. But it wasn't just an offensive explosion for the Clippers. Their defense forced 26 Warriors' turnovers, and 15 of those were steals -- that's just one steal shy of the team's season high. The ball pressure and traps that were getting diced apart by the Warriors in Game 1 were wreaking havoc tonight. The rotations were better. The Clippers seemed to get a hand on everything.
Oh, and it turns out this Blake Griffin guy is pretty good, and having him play in the game is better than not having him play. On Saturday he was limited by foul trouble to four minutes in the first half, 19 in the game. Tonight he beasted on the Warriors to the tune of 35 points on 13-17 shooting -- through just three quarters.
It almost goes without saying that 138 points is a franchise high for points in a playoff game. Even the Braves never scored that many points in the postseason, playing with Bob McAdoo in the 70s when no one played defense. The Clippers only scored more than 138 once this season. Who says that you can't win with offense in the playoffs?
For the Warriors, Klay Thompson was limited to 20 minutes by foul trouble. He scored seven straight points in one great sequence in the first quarter -- and was never heard from again. Stephen Curry had no points with three minutes remaining in the first half. He did score 20 of the Warriors 32 points in the third quarter -- but the Clippers were proceeding to score 38 points of their own, so it didn't really matter.
So many things went right for the Clippers that it's hardly worth mentioning that DeAndre Jordan made 7-8 free throws. In fact, things went so right that on the one free throw that he did miss the Clippers got the offensive rebound.
Every Clipper on the active roster played (rookie Reggie Bullock was inactive), and every Clipper except for Ryan Hollins scored. After being absolutely dreadful on Saturday, the Clippers' bench put on an offensive clinic with 58 points. I don't think we really know yet exactly what Granger is going to give this team off the bench -- but it has the potential to significantly change the playoffs in my opinion. The Clippers felt very thin early in the season -- they feel far from it now, especially when Granger plays like this. Jamal Crawford, who was absolutely terrible on Saturday, airballed his first three, but finished 4-8 for nine points. It wasn't spectacular (it didn't need to be) but it was still welcome to see him make shots, not to mention to see him make plays (he also had three assists).
The Warriors got so desperate in the third quarter that they went to a five small lineup -- Curry, Steve Blake, Harrison Barnes, Andre Iguodala and Draymond Green. It was fun to watch, but it goes without saying that Barnes isn't going to be able to keep DeAndre Jordan off the glass. And on the other end, DeAndre can actually guard Iguodala a bit.
As you might expect, it got chippy at times. Jordan and Jermaine O'Neal had a couple of run-ins, one resulting in a double-foul. And late in the game Jordan Crawford bodychecked Darren Collison for no apparent reason. The officials originally ruled it a Flagrant 2 and ejected Crawford, but downgraded it to a Flagrant 1 on review. (Incidentally, this is a case where the guidelines for the officials did not serve them well in my opinion. It wasn't by the book a Flagrant 2 -- but what the hell is Crawford doing, body-checking a player off the ball in a 38 point game? Ejection was absolutely the correct result -- it was a stupid and classless play, and he deserved to be gone.)
Not every game is going to be this easy of course. But the Clippers played their game tonight, and it was no contest. If they play their game the rest of the series, the results will be the same.