My, how things have changed.
The Golden State Warriors swept four games from the Los Angeles Clippers for the first time since 1986-1987, winning their 51st straight game at Oracle Arena in the process. While there's still intense competitive fire and even hatred between the two clubs, it appears the Warriors have left them in the dust.
Today was a good day.
It started with the news that Andrew Bogut had been upgraded from doubtful to questionable on the injury report. But the center was quite probable at Oracle, when he poked his head in to catch up with Bob Fitzgerald and Jim Barnett, on air.
The Clippers began the game fired up, as they usually are when facing their upstate rivals. Well, mostly. Starters Chris Paul and JJ Redick were wobbly to start, and each opened 1-of-5 from the field -- they would finish with a combined 22 points on 29 shots! But the rest of Lob City picked up the slack, dropping 20 bench points on the Warriors in the first quarter alone.
DeAndre Jordan played very much like a franchise player tonight, logging 38 minutes and holding down the front court for a Los Angeles team that leaned heavily on its guards. 19 points and 20 rebounds, including a plus-1 plus-minus.
For a Warriors team that had struggled against size in recent games with Festus Ezeli, Andre Iguodala and Andrew Bogut out, that plus-1 figure looms large. Andrew Bogut, showing no signs of rust, was very effective in preventing disadvantages on the glass, or in second chance points. In just 20 minutes, he scored a superb plus-18 plus-minus, along with 10 boards. With backup Splash Brother Marreese Speights providing key defense, the Warriors were able to give their guards a chance to win this game.
And win the game they did. Stephen Curry got it going early: his shot wasn't falling early, so he repeatedly found ways to get into the lane for layups and runners. His 14 points at halftime led all scorers (finishing with 33 points, 5 assists and four rebounds). Klay Thompson got rolling in the third quarter, picking up right where he left off from beyond the arc on Monday. He was 7-of-10 from three-point range for 32 points. At times, he looked unstoppable.
The Clippers held on as best they could, but with a thin front court, they just didn't have the personnel to pull this one out. They led by five after the first quarter, but were outscored by at least seven points in each of the final three quarters. By the fourth, Clippers coach Doc Rivers resorted to a four guard lineup (with Jordan in the middle) to drum up the offense to keep it close. But then the Warriors began to really run away with it, as their guards weren't able to defend anyone the Warriors played. That'll happen when you ask Austin Rivers and Jamaal Crawford to defend all-star players.
Not a whole lot of drama, fortunately. The best thing to come of this game might be Stephen Curry's defense. Thompson was terrific, as he often is, but seeing Stephen Curry D up Chris Paul, pick his pocket a number of times, and harass him into a 4-of-16 shooting night is just not something many people expected to see. If that's what Stephen Curry is becoming, then GG NBA.
The Warriors are back on the hardwood Friday night, to host the Dallas Mavericks.
Other stuff you may have missed...
- Stephen Curry defended Chris Paul all night, and (surprisingly to some) did a fantastic job. He won't get the honor this season, but Curry's making a case for himself to be considered for an all-NBA defensive team in the near future.
- Andrew Bogut immediately made his impact felt on the glass. The Clippers had just one second-chance point in the first half, and just eight offensive rebounds for the game.
- Brandon Rush quietly continues to reinvent himself into the high-quality 3-and-D wing who starred for the Dubs before his knee injury. Despite a nice bounce-back performance from Barnes, Rush's lower price tag and similar skill set could give the Warriors front office an interesting fall back option in free agency.
- Kawhi Leonard left the Spurs win over the Heat with a quadriceps bruise. He isn't expected to miss time, but then again...Pop gon' Pop.
Open shots galore against Clippers defense. https://t.co/sQVuQnYAjy— BBALLBREAKDOWN (@bballbreakdown) March 24, 2016