I didn't get to start watching this game until 11 PM, so it's pretty late as I sit down to recap it. So I'm not going to go into a lot of depth.
Here's what you need to know about this game. The Warriors sat back in a zone for long stretches, including the entire fourth quarter. It was a 3-2 zone, and essentially built a fortress around the lane, giving Blake Griffin no room to operate inside and shutting down driving lanes. Of course, if you take something away, you have to give up something else, and in this case it was the perimeter. The Warriors' zone allowed the Clippers a wide open three basically any time they wanted one. And because the Clippers couldn't make a thing from deep, the strategy worked perfectly.
Here are the three point shooting numbers for the Clippers who had more than one three point attempt tonight:
- Baron Davis 1-5
- Eric Gordon 1-6
- Randy Foye 1-7
- Al-Farouq Aminu 1-6
Eric Bledsoe 0-2
- Ryan Gomes 2-6
Unfortunately, LA only made 7 of those 33 three pointers. That's around 21%. By contrast, they made 30 out of 52 two pointers, 58%.
It got pretty ridiculous by the end. The Clippers would pass the ball around the perimeter, ignoring wide open threes because everyone was afraid to shoot, but never getting anything better. No one wanted to shoot the ball. It didn't help matters that Eric Gordon was on the bench after injuring his back and wrist in a hard fall in the third quarter.
A Baron Davis three made the score 102-92 with about 5 minutes to play, but the Clippers went even colder at that point, and the Warriors went on a 13-3 run to tie the game at 105 with 70 seconds left. On their next possession, the zone once again confounded the Clippers, and they were fumbling around, without even getting a look at the basket when the ball was knocked out of bounds with 2 seconds on the shot clock. On the inbound play, Blake Griffin drained a long three, his sixth make in ten attempts this season. Randy Foye made five free throws down the stretch, and the Warriors couldn't make up the deficit.
This was a game the Clippers really didn't deserve to win, certainly not in the fourth quarter. And I guess that makes it sweeter. Surely the Warriors' strategy of completely disregarding the three point line wouldn't work very often. I mean, these are NBA players after all. They're supposed to make more than 1 in 5 wide open threes. One also has to wonder why Rasual Butler and the supposedly healthy Brian Cook were sitting on the bench wearing their warm ups when the Warriors were begging the Clippers to make threes, and all of the Clippers who played were beyond terrible from deep.
But you can understand why the Warriors went to the zone - the Clippers terrible perimeter shooting was just gravy. Griffin was killing Golden State's man-to-man, particularly with Gordon in the pick and roll. They had to try something different on defense. Griffin finished the game with 30 points, and set a new career high with 8 assists, while tying his career high with 18 rebounds. That's a pretty good game.
In the end, it becomes the Clippers 7th straight home win, however it was achieved. They have run their home record to better than .500 at 14-13. In the middle of the week, they have two games in Texas. They'll need to play a lot better if they want even a split of those games.