The easy narrative for the Golden State Warriors' loss to the L.A. Clippers in Game 2 tonight is that Blake Griffin and Chris Paul are exactly who we thought they were, the former maybe being a bit better than he has ever been in the post-season.
No longer beset with foul trouble, Griffin feasted on whoever the Warriors threw at him in single coverage while Paul pushed the tempo against their demoralized opponent in the second half to finish with 12 points and 10 assists to lead the Clippers to a 138-98 rout in Game 2.
It wasn't immediately clear why the Warriors stuck with single coverage so long and Griffin made them pay for the decision with a playoff career-high 35. And maybe some will consider that the only narrative. Maybe others will make this about the absence of Andrew Bogut, who finished 10th in DpoY voting, which was the biggest reason why it was so easy to vote with our minds and pick the Warriors to lose to begin with.
Maybe these are just the things that happen after you beat a more talented team at home to open the season when they had such an easy excuse for the loss. Or maybe you don't beat the Clippers when DeAndre Jordan goes 7-for-8 from the free throw line.
Also, this nonsense happened.
GIF: Down Goes Big Baby http://t.co/KubtGD44ah
— Ben Golliver (@BenGolliver) April 22, 2014
A lot, nearly everything imaginable, went wrong for the Warriors in Game 2 with the Clippers just looking like a team that was starving for a victory. But if you're looking at the narrative of this season, a deluge of turnovers when they were still in striking distance - en route to 26 for the game - were once again a problem for the Warriors.
With the game in danger of looking like an early rout, Thompson hit five straight points to cut the Clippers lead down to six.
But a lazy third foul while trying to stay in front of Chris Paul defensively with four minutes left undermined that burst, sending Thompson to the bench for most of the first half. When Jackson chose to give Stephen Curry shortly thereafter - with the Warriors down 21-13 - he took the risk of relying on reserves for offense and things began to get ugly almost immediately.
From the time Thompson went out to the time he came back in early in the second quarter, the Warriors had 7 turnovers which led to 12 Clippers points in eight minutes of game time - the Clippers ultimately outscored the Warriors 27-18 on 68.8% shooting from the field in that time. By the time Griffin returned to the game with 7:28 left in the second quarter after a brief rest, the Clippers were up 19 and the Warriors seemed to be at a loss for options. The Warriors would eventually find themselves down 26 at half - while giving the Clippers 18 points off 15 turnovers - and it just never got better.
Klay Thompson didn't score in the last 17 minutes of the first half...and is the Warriors' leading first-half scorer.
— Fast Break (@GSWFastBreak) April 22, 2014
Although it's not unreasonable to frame this game around Griffin's performance, the Clippers' bench deserves credit for really starting to kick the door shut before the team's stars could lock it - before Curry's four points in the second quarter, the Clippers' bench was on its way to outscoring the Warriors bench in the first half.
As usual in basketball, it was more than one thing that went wrong tonight.
Thompson's foul trouble took away both an offensive threat and their primary defender on Paul. Griffin just kept beasting on whoever he found guarding him. The Warriors bench had no answers on either end for the Clippers bench during that stretch across the first and second quarters. And, answering another question we might have had after Game 1, blitzing Curry with double-teams worked this time around.
Curry was held scoreless through the first 21 minutes of the game, but it wasn't for lack of shots we're used to seeing him make - tonight Curry looked mortal, missing those patented quickly released shots from beyond the arc and watching his passes result in missed shots rather than assists. The Clippers got physical with him and forced the Warriors into rushed decisions offensively.
With the Splash Brothers ineffective and most everyone else doing nothing to pick up the slack, there just weren't a lot of bright spots to choose from tonight. So if we must choose a Warriors Wonder...
@NateP_SBN Jarrett Jack and Kent Bazemore for supporting the team through this mess of a game. You know they would love to be out there.
— GSW Hoops (@gswhoops) April 22, 2014
@NateP_SBN San Francisco 2018
— Ittai Shay (@IttaiShay) April 22, 2014
...I have to go with the guy who at least showed some heart when all was lost.
With this kind of lead for Clips, I find myself saying "Shoot it!" to Steph once he gets to half court
— BBALLBREAKDOWN (@bballSource) April 22, 2014
Curry getting into what @timkawakami calls "Curry vs. The World" mode. Way too late though
— Marcus Thompson (@ThompsonScribe) April 22, 2014
The final glimmer of hope in this loss might have been that Curry would find a rhythm after finally hitting his first shot of the game in the final three minutes of the first half.
The Warriors were down 25 points and seemed to be completely overwhelmed by a refocused and rejuventated Clippers squad while Curry hadn't even scored yet. Maybe, just maybe, he'd heat up to the point of making a game of it as we've seen a few too many times this season.
Then DeAndre Jordan followed his fifth consecutive made free throw with a nasty alley oop dunk with a helpless Curry only able to watch. Whether we consider it merely a moment emblematic of a night of being bullied or just an exclamation point designed to intimidate, this thing was pretty much over at that point.
But that Curry just kept fighting in the third does carry some minor importance: he got mad and showed some emotion, even throwing the all-important mouthpiece. That's probably more important going forward than the fact that he scored 20 in a quarter against a Clippers defense that obviously didn't much care anymore.
If we want to take the optimistic view, maybe Curry comes to Oracle mad while feeding off a rowdy crowd and maybe the Warriors hold their home court advantage and move on to Game 4 with a chance to take a commanding lead in the series. But the problem all season for this team is that getting caught up in emotion can also generate more turnovers - they've had 49 in two games against the Clippers and there's no reason to believe they can win this series if they keep that up.
For more on this series, check out our Warriors-Clippers series section.