The LA Clippers were absolutely dominating their game against the Golden State Warriors at Chase Center Friday for two and a half quarters, but a rally from the home team means the teams split their two-game set this week, with the Warriors winning 115-105.
The result is reminiscent of the Clippers’ playoff collapse against the Denver Nuggets last season, with LA leading on the night by more than 20 points deep into the 3rd quarter, before they seemed to lose all their mojo and folded over the course of the rest of the game.
The Clippers continued their usual starting five so far this year, of Patrick Beverley, Paul George, Kawhi Leonard, Nicolas Batum and Serge Ibaka, and for most of the game, they looked good.
They raced out to an early lead, going up 13-5 for the first TV timeout of the night. They poured it on from there, getting ahead 24-10. Golden State hit a couple shots but LA finished the 1st quarter with a 30-22 lead, the scoring load spread around, Ibaka hitting all four of his shots to pace the team.
In the 2nd quarter, the Clippers continued to hold the Warriors at arm’s length, and in several possessions managed to hustle the opponent to get a second chance or force a quick turnover. They went to halftime leading 65-51, George putting up 17 points to lead the visitors, Ibaka right behind him with 14 points.
After the break it was largely more of the same, with the Clippers extending their lead, then letting the Warriors back in, then extending it again. Stephen Curry was doing yeoman’s work to keep Golden State in the game. But LA’s stars were doing their part and the supporting cast was doing theirs. Among the highlights, Lou Williams provided a rare block in the dying minutes of the 3rd quarter on Kent Bazemore.
Still, Curry wouldn’t give up, and he hit a near buzzer-beater to end the quarter that cut the Clippers’ lead to just six points, 87-81. Curry had 33 points at that point.
The rally continued until the Warriors tied the game a couple minutes into the 4th quarter at 87-87, and then the Warriors eventually took the lead, getting up to 97-91 with 8:22 to go. LA tied it up, but after Brad Wanamaker hit a go-ahead 3-pointer, George failed to get a shot off on the next possession before the shot clock expired, which was basically the nail in the coffin on the night.
Golden State continued to hold the edge in momentum as the clock ticked down, with the Clippers going ice cold in pretty much all facets of the game, and the game was over with a couple minutes to go.
George had 25 points on the night, Leonard 24 of his own, but Curry finished with 38 and Andrew Wiggins quietly had another strong game against the Clippers, with 16 points.
It’s just one game, it’s the regular season, but this was a no good very bad result for the Clippers. We know they aren’t going to win every time out, but playing a stronger cast, dominating the game, and then collapsing completely over the final 15 minutes or so isn’t great. Expect some tough words coming out of the postgame press conference.
LA will return home for their next game, Sunday against the Chicago Bulls.