Warriors push around Clippers, tighten Pacific Division raceBy Dave Del Grande, The Sports Xchange | The SportsXchange – Thu, Jan 3, 2013 2:50 AM EST
OAKLAND, Calif. -- The Golden State Warriors had a saying entering Wednesday's showdown with the Los Angeles Clippers: Meet force with force. And that they did, harassing Clippers bruisers Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan into a combined 3-for-14 shooting while also sending them to the line a total of 16 times in a 115-94 Warriors win that tightened up the Pacific Division standings. "We know they're a team that wants to impose its will on people," Warriors forward David Lee said. "It's important for us to do that, too. "Tonight we were able to do that and get the upper hand." In doing so, the Warriors moved within 2 1/2 games of a team that went unbeaten in December and took a 17-game winning streak with them to Denver on Tuesday night. But the Clippers have now lost two in a row, including two straight to a surprising Golden State club that already owned a 114-110 win at the Staples Center in L.A. in the first week of the season. Stephen Curry scored 25 of his game-high 31 points in the first half as the Warriors took advantage of a team that not only was physically gassed by Tuesday's mile-high effort. The team also was suffering emotionally as well, having less than 24 hours earlier received word Scott Sterling, the 32-year-old son of team owner Donald, was found dead in his Malibu, Calif., home. Four 3-pointers and a couple of hard fouls on Griffin and Jordan later, the Warriors found themselves with a commanding 26-8 lead and never trailed in the first-ever meeting between these franchises as first- and second-place teams in the same NBA division. "Meet force with force. That was the game plan," boasted Curry, who dominated rival and longtime pal Chris Paul to the tune of 25-4 in a sensational first-half performance. "We knew they had played (Tuesday night). We wanted to make sure we came out with aggressiveness. "A 26-8 lead ... that set the tone better than anything we've ever done." Paul wound up with 23 basically meaningless points, 19 coming in a second half in which the Clippers never got closer than 10. Griffin (2-for-11, 10 points) and Jordan (1-for-3, four points) had no such success meaningful or not. "Very physical game and we expected that," said Warriors coach Mark Jackson, whose team intentionally put Griffin and Jordan on the foul line on a number of occasions, with two of the 16 foul shots the result of a flagrant foul by Festus Ezeli on Griffin. "We did a good job of fighting and getting a win. "Let's be fair: They played last night. When a good basketball team is sitting at home waiting for another team that worked the night before, you impose your will." The Clippers were coming off a 92-78 loss at Denver that snapped their franchise-record, 17-game winning streak. Wednesday's quick comeback was even less competitive. The teams will meet in a rematch Saturday night in Los Angeles. Curry connected on six 3's and Klay Thompson five as the Warriors drained 12 of 23 from beyond the arc on a night when they shot 50.0 percent overall from the field. Lee had 24 points and Thompson 19 for the winners, who also dominated the boards to the tune of 53-38, with Lee leading the way with 13. Former Warriors Jamal Crawford (24) and Matt Barnes (19) combined for almost half the Clippers scoring on a night when the visitors got within 10 only once in the second half, only to see the Warriors score eight of the game's next 10 points late in the third period to resume command again at 80-64. "It's frustrating. I thought that we'd give a better overall effort tonight," lamented Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro. "We've got to continually understand the level that we need to play at on a consistent basis. When you come into a building, especially a division team that's right behind us in the standings and they've been waiting for us ... We've got to understand that target that's there now and respect it, but also want it." Even though they will play the Lakers (Friday) before seeing the Warriors again, the Clippers left Oakland anxiously awaiting Saturday's rematch. "They treated tonight as a playoff game," Crawford observed. "We're a good team and we're a big game for a lot of people." NOTES: The news of Scott Sterling's death was on the mind of both coaches before the game. "I certainly want to give my prayers to Donald Sterling and his family during this tough period. I'm thinking and praying for him," the Warriors' Jackson said before the game. Added the Clippers' Del Negro minutes later: "We had a meeting this morning. This is not an easy situation. Things like this put things in perspective real quick." ... Del Negro was named NBA Coach of the Month after the team went 16-0 in December. The third-year coach downplayed becoming the franchise's second-ever Coach of the Month (Larry Brown was so honored in March of 1992). "Players win games; coaches lose them," he said. "That's what I believe in." ... The Clippers, who had a four-game losing streak earlier in the season, are now 2-5 in games following a loss ... The Warriors are the only team in the league to have beaten the Clippers twice this season. ... Warriors fans, most donning white "Warriors Whiteout" t-shirts as part of a promotion, began chanting "Beat LA" -- almost previously saved exclusively for the Lakers -- in the third quarter. ... The sellout crowd included musician Carlos Santana and boxing champion Andre Ward.
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