The Los Angeles Clippers started out big this season, winning 14 of the first 16 games. Then they went into a three-game losing streak, ending with a double overtime loss to the Brooklyn Nets on the road.
Since then the Clippers have won two of three, starting with a 113-94 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers, the reigning NBA Champions. But, in the last 10 days they have lost twice to the Indiana Pacers, first in Indianapolis and then on Sunday here at Staples Center.
For the first month of the season the Los Angeles Clippers had the best record in the West — in the NBA — but after that three-game losing streak Los Angeles slipped in the standings and once again the best team in the West for the past two years, the Golden State Warriors. took over the top spot in the standings.
The Warriors are a complete team, despite losing some of their NBA championship winning members, including assistant coach Luke Walton, who is now the head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers. But Golden State still has Steph Curry, one of the most exciting point guards in the NBA, and Klay Thompson,the shooting guard who is averaging 27 points per game in the past 10 games and hit 60 points against the Pacers on Monday.
Then there is Andre Igoudala and Draymond Green, and now they have small forward Kevin Durant, who left the Oklahoma City Thunder for life and basketball in Oakland. That’s three of the best players in the game — on the same team. Durant is averaging 27 points and 8.4 rebounds per game. Conceivably, Curry, Thompson and Durant can add two-thirds of the Warriors’s points every game.
The one big advantage the Clippers have in this matchup is at center. DeAndre Jordan is, without question, one of the top three centers playing in the NBA today. Over the past 10 games he’s been averaging12 points and 13.3 rebounds. In the past five games Jordan had 13 and 14 rebounds once each, 15 twice and 23 in the loss against the Nets in Brooklyn.
Then there are point guard Chris Paul, shooting forward Blake Griffin, shooting guard J.J. Redick and Jamal Crawford and a number of other second team members who have elevated their game since last season, making the Clippers a serious contender once again. They also have, as a backup center and power forward, Marreese Speights, who has emerged as a strong defensive force on the court. He is newly acquired from the Golden State Warriors.
There are a couple of interesting storylines going into this game tonight, but the biggest has to be which is the top team in the Pacific Division of the Western Conference. It’s only their first meeting this season and there is a lot of basketball left this season, but for Warriors and Clippers fans this is the biggest game of the season.
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UPDATE: The Clippers were never able to get on track in this game. They came out in the first and third quarters committing turn overs that led to a number of Golden State points. At one point in the first quarter the Warriors were ahead by 20.
Three of the Clippers’ best scorers, Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and J.J. Redick, didn’t score much at all in the first half. Paul started to sink some baskets in the second quarter, giving the Clippers crowd hope their team could pull out a win.
Klay Thompson didn’t have an extraordinary night for Golden State, but he still scored 24 points. The big stat that stands out for the Warriors: they had 32 assists. What makes Golden State incredibly hard to beat is their ball movement. They had 10 players score, five of them in double digits. Kevin Durant had seven assists and Steph Curry had six.
The final score was :Golden State Warriors 115 and the Los Angeles Clippers, 98.
Photos by Claudia Gestro
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