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Clippers Defeat Warriors, 125-106

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The LA Clippers stun the Golden State Warriors at Oracle Arena behind Lou Williams’ 50 points.

LA Clippers v Golden State Warriors Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images

It’s been more than 3 years since the LA Clippers last defeated the Golden State Warriors, and tonight had all the ingredients to continue the trend. Sure, the Warriors were without Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson. But the Clippers were without the services of Blake Griffin, Austin Rivers, Danilo Gallinari, Milos Teodosic, and Patrick Beverley. The Warriors still had Finals MVPs Kevin Durant and Andre Igoudala, as well as the reigning NBA Defensive Player of the Year, Draymond Green, in uniform. It’s also worth noting the Dubs have a bevy of depth at their disposal. But the Clippers managed to pull out a win, and by the end, it wasn’t even close. With 3 minutes remaining in the game, fans began fleeing for the exits at Oracle Arena.

Sweet Lou Goes for 50

Lou Williams had already been rapidly ascending as a fan favorite in LA, and after putting up 50 points on the reigning NBA champions on national television, those who hadn’t been following will now understand why. At 31 years old, he is, by far, having the best season of his career. After arriving from the Houston Rockets last summer in a consolation package for Chris Paul’s departure, along with Patrick Beverley, Montrezl Harrell, and Sam Dekker, most believed (this writer included) he’d be a nice scoring guard off the bench. What he has done has been nothing short of stunning.

On the season, entering tonight, Williams was averaging 22.2 points, 4.9 assists, and 2.9 rebounds per game while shooting 44.4% from the field, 40.7% from behind the arc, and 90.3% from the line. Those stats are already quite impressive for a starter, but factor in that he’s done most of his damage as a reserve this season. And amongst all players in the new year, Lou Williams is third in scoring with 33.2 points per game, only behind DeMar DeRozan and Stephen Curry. What he’s been doing has already been quite remarkable.

It seemed natural that Williams would take on a significant portion of the scoring load entering tonight’s game, but the Warriors have been an elite defensive team for several years now, and Williams had very few options to bail him out if he became trapped. 20 to 25 points might have seemed like a generously reasonable figure for the matchup. But Sweet Lou put on a dazzling display, treating the crowd at Oracle to a 50 point show. And he did it in just 35 minutes, shooting 16-27 from the field, 8-16 from beyond the arc, and 10-10 from the line. He also made those around him better, dishing out 7 assists to a team lacking outside shooting and offensive depth in general.

Tonight’s Clippers win, the first against the Warriors in a very long time, simply would have not been possible without Lou Williams.

Tyrone Wallace, Always Ready

Tyrone Wallace, playing in only his third NBA game ever, posted 22 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals, and 0 turnovers against the Warriors. At 23 years old and on a fresh two-way contract with the Clippers and their G-League affiliate, the Agua Caliente Clippers of Ontario, he’s posted double-digit scoring in every NBA game he’s played. Tonight, in just 34 minutes, Wallace shot 7-11 from the field, 1-1 from beyond the arc, and 7-9 from the line. He’s quickly illustrating the value of internal development and of the G-League in general, and he’s looking like a player that could help the Clippers now more than ever. He might even become part of their long term plans, but we’ll have to wait and see if he can continue his magnificent play.

Just What the Doc Ordered

Lou Williams’ 50 point night and Tyrone Wallace’s efficient brilliance were the biggest storylines following tonight’s game, but what won’t get spoken about enough was the top-to-bottom effort of the current Clippers squad.

With the majority of their most impactful players sitting in street clothes as of late, the Clippers have had every excuse to allow themselves to be outmatched. But just as they have in so many of their recent games, they continued to dazzle. The Clippers out-rebounded the Warriors 46-32 despite a pretty noticeable size differential. The Clippers also outscored the Warriors 60-32 in the paint, absolutely dominating around the rim. They even shot better from the field and from beyond the arc against an offensive juggernaut. And they didn’t do it all with talent. The Clippers willed their way to a blowout win because they played with every bit of effort they had in the tank. It’s representative of a special squad, but also very indicative of a very special head coach.

Doc Rivers’ tenure as Clippers head coach had been increasingly met with criticism. Some of it was fair, but it had been a while since he was put in a position where he was forced to flex his coaching muscles. Notorious for a reluctance to give young players meaningful minutes, nobody really seemed sure how the Clippers might forge a new path with Rivers at the helm at the beginning of the season. Fast forward to tonight where, by the end of the first quarter, 10 Clippers had already contributed against the first-place Warriors, in the absence of foul trouble. That group included four rookies, and the game was close. By the end of the game, those four rookies had combined for 43 points, 18 assists, 14 rebounds, and 4 steals. Give credit to Doc for his willingness to experiment, to pay close attention to every rotation, and to give so many young players an honest chance. His ability to motivate and his team’s ability to pull themselves within a game of 8th place in the ever-competitive Western Conference has been nothing short of amazing.

The Clippers are still early in the process of formulating a new identity, but we can begin to see what that might look like. Tonight’s game was perhaps the best representation of the sort of grit and heart we may come to see every night from the LA Clippers.