After enduring back-to-back last-second defeats, the Golden State Warriors have a final opportunity to conclude their longest homestand of the season successfully on Sunday night as they meet the Pacific Division rival Los Angeles Clippers.
Golden State (13-31) was mired in a five-game losing streak from Dec. 31-Jan. 10, but won three of its first four contests on its seven-game stretch at Oracle Arena. The lone defeat came against Sacramento on Jan. 14, 135-133 in triple-overtime.
The Warriors have dropped their last two contests in a similarly close fashion. LeBron James’ 19-footer beat the buzzer to give the Cleveland Cavaliers a 106-105 victory on Friday, two days after Oklahoma City Thunder forward Jeff Green hit a jumper at the final horn to send the Warriors to a 122-121 defeat.
“Well, luck is not going our way at this particular time,” coach Don Nelson said.
Golden State is second in the NBA with 107.3 points per game, but was without one of its top scorers Friday. Jamal Crawford, averaging 20.4 points since being acquired from New York in November, is day-to-day with a bruised right hamstring.
The Warriors, though, saw Monta Ellis score 20 points in his first action of the season. Ellis suffered an ankle injury in a motorized scooter accident in August, resulting in a team-issued 30-game suspension without pay.
He received a six-year, $66 million contract extension one month prior to the incident after averaging career highs in points (20.2) and rebounds (5.0) last season.
“We need his offense and we need his leadership out there,” Stephen Jackson said. “Having him back just gave me a good feeling of what’s to come for this team.”
Jackson had a team-high 24 points, eight rebounds and eight assists against the Cavs, while Corey Maggette added 23 points and eight rebounds.
Jackson has averaged 25.7 points in his last three games against the Clippers (10-32), who have lost four in a row to Golden State.
The Warriors have won five consecutive home meetings against the Clippers, outscoring them by an average of 11.0 points. Los Angeles has dropped a season-high six straight on the road, allowing its opponents to score 106.2 points per contest.
Former Golden State star Baron Davis scored 25 points in Los Angeles’ 121-103 home loss to the Warriors on Nov. 15, but will likely miss Sunday’s game as he’s been sidelined 11 straight with a bruised tailbone.
Marcus Camby (left ankle), Zach Randolph (left knee), Chris Kaman (left arch), and Mike Taylor (right thumb) are also out indefinitely for a Clippers team that is among the lowest-scoring squads in the NBA (93.4).
Los Angeles, though, turned in a strong offensive performance Friday to win for the second time in 16 games, 107-104 over visiting Oklahoma City. Eric Gordon set a franchise-record for rookies with 41 points, while Al Thornton added a season-high 34.
“(We) were moving the basketball and attacking the rim - and at the defensive end we’re trying to cover for each other,” coach Mike Dunleavy said.
Gordon, among the league’s top rookies with 13.5 points per game, is averaging 17.6 on 45.3 percent shooting in 29 contests since joining the starting lineup on Nov. 24.