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Suddenly Injury-Stricken Clippers Fall to Warriors, 112-94

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The Clippers lost Lou Williams before the game and Danilo Gallinari after the 1st quarter, so it’s no surprise they also lost to the Warriors.

NBA: Golden State Warriors at Los Angeles Clippers Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

Summary:

The Clippers started off the game looking solid, if not exceptional. They were moving the ball, and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander led the charge in attacking the basket. Unfortunately, the defense, while not horrible, was allowing the Warriors too many drives of their own. They got tons of easy looks, with Steph easily able to shake off Bradley’s pesky defense for a couple wide-open threes. The Clippers’ bench started coming in, and noticeably missed Lou Williams, but hung in due to a couple triples from Tobias Harris and two midrange jumpers by Bradley.

With Lou out, Shai started the second quarter with the usual bench unit. The Clippers once again had decent enough execution, but Ty Wallace and Pat Beverley had rough stints, both turning the ball over and missing shots at the rim. Montrezl Harrell struggled as well, lacking the easy buckets he usually feeds off of in the pick and roll with Lou. However, the bench’s defense was solid, and the Clippers hung in. The rest of the quarter saw an extremely aggressive Shai and a confident Harris do all the scoring for the Clippers, keeping the Clips in it despite a lack of firepower. The defense was more fortunate than strong, as the Warriors missed several open threes, and the lead could easily have been 10 rather than 1 at half.

Unfortunately, as it has so often this season, the wheels came off in the third quarter. Tobias, feeling the pressure of being the team’s primary scorer, forced things, Bradley failed to contribute, and Gortat missed two free throws. Turnovers began to mount, and the Warriors got easy bucket after easy bucket. The Warriors went on a 17-4 run overall, and the game seemed over. However, the Clippers clawed their way back behind some extraordinary play from Shai, who took matters into his own hands with a series of drives and jumpers. The Dubs lead was down to six when Steph took over, scoring in a variety of ways, and extending their advantage back to double digits. Late in the quarter, Doc Rivers made the curious decision to insert Boban Marjanovic and Johnathan Motley, much to the delight of the crowd. The Clippers, somehow, only trailed by nine entering the 4th quarter.

Doc Rivers started the 4th quarter with a Ty-Beverley-Jerome-Motley-Boban lineup, and people on Twitter thought he was essentially writing the game off. It was clear he wasn’t doing so, but trying to buy time for his starters. This gambit failed, as the Clippers failed to score, while the Warriors buried three threes, essentially ending the game. The Clippers’ starters came back in, but couldn’t make any headway against a furious Warriors’ defense, and the rest of the game was not much more than garbage time. Eventually, the Warriors won 112-94.

Notes:

  • Shai has himself a game: After struggling for several weeks, Shai had one of his strongest performances of the entire season, perhaps his very best. Given extended minutes with Lou Williams out, Shai played with more confidence and aggression than we’ve seen in a while, continually attacking the basket and getting to his spot in the midrange. He was aggressive on mismatches, had several gorgeous passes, and played fantastic defense on Klay Thompson, largely keeping him under wraps. While 42 minutes was probably too much for Shai, he clearly deserves more p laying time than he’s been receiving lately: part of the reason he’s struggled is that his playing time has been cut, not the other way around. He will have his ups and downs for sure, but he’s just too good to get less than 25 minutes a game.
  • Tobias does his best: While Tobias was largely ineffective in the second half, his first half was exceptional, as he poured in 20 points on great efficiency to keep the Clippers in the game. While his shot deserted him in the second half, and the Warriors swarmed him, he maintained aggression, and got to the line an impressive 12 times. He’s not a superstar, but he played well tonight under tough circumstances, and the Warriors were clearly hell-bent on stopping him.
  • Everyone else no-shows: After Tobias and Shai, the Clippers’ next leading scorer was Johnathan Motley, who had seven points in garbage time. Avery Bradley went 3-13 from the field, Montrezl Harrell was 2-6, and Pat Beverley was 0-4. Lou Williams’ ability not just to create for himself, but also for his teammates was resoundingly felt tonight, but that doesn’t excuse the poor offensive showings by other key Clippers. While Lou is out (at least the next two games), the Clippers desperately need these guys to show up and provide at least double-digit scoring efforts. Tonight, they got nowhere near that.
  • A glimpse at the future: While the blowout loss wasn’t a great way for it to happen, Clippers’ fans did get to see semi-extended minutes from young guys tonight. Motley played eight minutes while Jerome Robinson played seven, and both guys scored several times in ways that should be exciting for the future of the team. Particularly nice were Robinson’s reverse layup cutting baseline on a beautiful dime from Shai, and Motley’s and-one after an offensive rebound. If the Clippers continue to slide, we might see more of the young guys sooner than later.
  • Slide in standings: The Clippers have now lost five games in a row, four of those coming at home, and are now out of the playoff picture for the first time since early November. There’s plenty of season left to make up the difference, but any extended losing streak is costly in the West, and with injuries all of a sudden piling up, the Clippers need to hunker down and grit out some wins.

The Clippers’ next game is Sunday morning at San Antonio, and they will definitely be without Lou for that contest, as well as the following game in Dallas.