Barnes, who signed a 10-day contract last weekend, made three key baskets down the stretch Wednesday night to help the Clippers rally for a 106-102 victory over Golden State.
“I was fortunate to be out there and make things happen,” said Barnes, a former UCLA star who teamed with Dennis Rodman for one game with Long Beach in the American Basketball Association.
“It’s a great experience finally being up in the big leagues,” the 23-year-old Barnes said. “I’m loving every minute of it. Back in the ABA, I was getting pretty discouraged. I was playing pretty well.”
Well enough to catch the eye of the Clippers, who needed a replacement when backup forward Bobby Simmons went down with an injury last week.
“The reason I picked him was how fundamentally sound he is, how smart he is,” Clippers coach Mike Dunleavy said. “I like the fact that he can pass the ball, make plays.”
Barnes, who played the entire fourth quarter, finished with 13 points and 10 rebounds in 26 minutes and helped the Clippers turn things around on defense, too.
“What a difference a half makes—65 points in the first half, 37 points in the second half,” Dunleavy said. “We were so soft that first half.”
The Warriors led at halftime 65-54. The 65 points was the most they’ve scored in a first half this season, and the Clippers heard about that from their coach.
“Maybe that’s what we needed, that dog to come barking at us,” said Clippers guard Eddie House, referring to Dunleavy’s halftime lecture.
The Clippers (17-22) snapped a three-game losing streak with just their third win in nine games.
Jason Richardson led the Warriors (17-24) with 28 points and 10 rebounds. Erick Dampier had 17 points and 16 rebounds and Speedy Claxton also scored 17 for Golden State, which has lost 11 straight road games.
“Matt Barnes came in and gave them a lot of energy,” Warriors coach Eric Musselman said. “He changed the whole complexion of the game.”
The Clippers went ahead for good by scoring 12 straight points for a 100-95 lead with 2:01 to play. Barnes’ follow shot capped the spurt.
Doug Overton’s jumper with 8.4 seconds remaining and the shot clock running down gave the Clippers a five-point lead. Golden State’s Clifford Robinson made a 3-pointer before Maggette clinched the victory by making two free throws with 3.9 seconds left.
The Warriors scored five straight points for a 95-88 lead with 5:25 remaining.
That’s when the Clippers took over.
Two free throws by Maggette, a basket by Barnes and a 3-pointer by Eddie House tied the game at 95, and Barnes then followed in his own miss with 3:10 left to give the Clippers just their third lead of the game.
A free throw by Quentin Richardson and another follow shot by Barnes put the Clippers up by five points before Jason Richardson’s jumper with 1:46 left ended the decisive spurt.
The game was the second matching first-year Clippers coach Dunleavy against his son, Mike, a second-year forward with the Warriors.
The younger Dunleavy had 16 points and 10 rebounds. In the Clippers’ 104-98 win at Golden State on Nov. 14, Dunleavy shot 2-of-10 and scored seven points.
“We’ve got two more games against him. We’ll get him next time,” the younger Dunleavy said. “We’re beating them by a lot in the first half and you hear the boos. I was like, `Whoa.’
“Man, I felt bad for the opposing coach for the first time ever.”
The Warriors led by as many as 14 points in both the first and thirdquarters.
Dampier has 21 double-doubles this season. … The Clippers entertain Utah on Friday night before playing 10 of their following 11 games on the road leading up to the All-Star break. … Considering the schedule, Dunleavy realizes how difficult it will be for the Clippers to contend for the playoffs. “We’re behind the eight-ball,” he said. “If we can get a run to the playoffs, that would be great. It is what it is. The Western Conference is a monster.” … The Dunleavys had dinner Tuesday night and lunch Wednesday. “Ilove the way he plays. He knows how to play,” the elder Dunleavy said.