OAKLAND, Calif. - Both teams had almost the same reaction to the Golden State Warriors' 106-99 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers on Monday afternoon:
No big deal.
But given the circumstances, that was hard to believe.
The Warriors used a late 9-0 run to complete a fourth-quarter comeback en route to their third victory of the season over the Clippers and a 3-1 season-series win over the current Pacific Division leaders.
Might that have a mental impact on a possible first-round playoff matchup down the road? The Clippers steadfastly insisted: No.
"They played the best they can play the three times they beat us," assessed Clippers standout Blake Griffin, who responded to an early flagrant foul by having a dominating 26-point, 13-rebound effort. "We're not going to dwell on it. There's nothing to cry about. They're a good team, but by no means are we scared."
Jarrett Jack had four points and Stephen Curry added a 3-pointer and an assist in the game-swinging run that started with the Warriors trailing 95-92 at the 3:38 mark and concluded with Golden State having built a six-point advantage with just 1:03 to go.
For Curry, a 28-point explosion built mostly on the strength of 6-for-8 shooting from 3-point range came just as the Western Conference coaches are making their final decisions on the seven All-Star reserve spots.
The Warriors haven't had an All-Star in 16 years.
"He's an All-Star. We have two of them," Warriors coach Mark Jackson said of Curry and David Lee, who struggled in his matchup with Griffin. "He (Curry) realized the game got tight and that's what leaders do. Instead of holding your head down, you look to regroup and make a play. He certainly did that."
Curry's sparkling performance came head-to-head against All-Star starter Chris Paul, who was playing for just the second time since missing three games because of a bruised right kneecap.
Paul gutted out 33 minutes, but afterward wished he hadn't.
"I sort of take this loss and put it on me because I feel like I hurt the team being out there and trying to play through it," admitted Paul, who missed six of his seven shots and was more of a distributor (nine assists) than a scorer (season-low four points). "I'm just mad. I feel we let a game get away. Me being out there probably hurt us more than helped."
Adding insult to injury, Paul said he aggravated the knee problem on a trick play in the first quarter.
After Curry's first 3-pointer of the game had given Golden State a little early momentum, Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro signaled for Paul to advance the ball into the frontcourt and call a timeout.
The star point guard did the former, but opted against the timeout as he shifted into a higher gear and headed for the hoop. He managed to hit a running five-footer, but banged his knee when fouled by Harrison Barnes on the play.
Paul missed the free throw ... then missed every other shot he attempted from the floor in the game.
"I was mad," he said of his decision to head toward the hoop.
A decision whether he'll play against Oklahoma City in an early Western Conference showdown Tuesday night will be made before the game.
In the meantime, the Western coaches will be pondering several qualified candidates for the seven All-Star spots, including Curry and Lee.
If Monday's game provided a lasting impression: Advantage, Curry.
"When you start talking about elite point guards in this league, I think there's one thing that really separates him from a lot of guys," Jack, a first-year Warrior, said of Curry. "You have guys like Chris Paul who's unbelievable in the pick-and-roll. (Rajon) Rondo, who's tremendous at administrating the show. And as far as shooting the long ball, Steph is by far the best at his position.
"Playing with him on a regular basis, I have a better appreciation of him as a player. I didn't know how talented this kid was."
Curry and Jack, who finished with 18 points off the bench, combined for all the scoring in a 7-2 Warriors flurry at the start of the fourth quarter, which slashed a Clippers lead from seven points to two and created a tight game until the ultimate nine-point run.
In a matchup that's turned testy at times this season, the Clippers walked away seemingly undisturbed by any Golden State celebration this time around.
"We know we have a target on our back," said Jamal Crawford, a candidate to make it three Clippers in the All-Star Game. "We want to play in June. Not that they don't. But we're looking at bigger goals than celebrate everything."
Notes: The only incidents that at all resembled some of the earlier fireworks between the two California teams occurred in the final 49.5 seconds of the first quarter. First, Jack got nailed for a flagrant foul for a football-style, shoulder-to-the-ribs chuck on Griffin, and then Clippers big man DeAndre Jordan was hit with a technical foul for shoving Draymond Green into the stands after the Warriors had taken an intentional foul on him. ... The Warriors are the only team to have beaten the Clippers more than once this season. ... The NBA's All-Star reserves are scheduled to be announced Thursday, with the coaches' ballots due Wednesday morning. ... Clippers veteran Grant Hill (bruised knee) was given the day off, but is expected to return for Tuesday's showdown with the Thunder. ... Already assured of having two All-Stars with Paul and Griffin named to the Western Conference starting lineup, Del Negro labeled high-scoring reserve Crawford "definitely worthy of an All-Star spot." The Clippers mailed a promotional flyer to every Western Conference team over the weekend, trumpeting Crawford's cause. ... For the fourth straight home game dating back to Jan. 9, injured Warriors center Andrew Bogut took the court about two hours before tipoff for some shooting and light footwork drills. Asked on the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. holiday if cared to project when his big man will return from his foot injury, the Warriors' Jackson said, "There'll be no pressure on him. ... (I) look forward to having him one day, whenever that day comes. I, like Dr. King, have a dream."