The beef between the Los Angeles Clippers and Golden State Warriors has been broiling for more than a year now. The Clippers didn't take too kindly to how the Warriors' benchcelebrated during a 2012-13 season series that Golden State took three games to one; this led to separate chapel services, shoving matches between centers, multiple coach-playerconfrontations, squabbling during the NBA's Christmas Day showcase, springtime in and post-game drama and an incrediblyintense seven-game playoff series. (Which, of course, had a whole 'nother level of stuff going on behind the scenes.)
With all that past as prologue, the Pacific Division powers faced off for the first time this season on Wednesday, and a national television audience watched the boys from the Bay batter L.A., blitzing the Clips from the opening tip en route to a 121-104 win that kept the Warriors perfect at 4-0 and led Doc Rivers to lose his mind a little bit after the final buzzer. Golden State had no shortage of stars in a scintillating performance that featured 58.1 percent shooting as a team, a 15-for-25 mark from 3-point land and perfect 20-for-20 shooting from the foul line, but Warriors forward Draymond Green certainly stood out. The hard-nosed and versatile Michigan State product scored a career-high 24 points and played his customary stiff defense in 36 minutes of work, and he seemed to enjoy himself along the way.
"It was fun," Green said after the game, according to Antonio Gonzalez of The Associated Press. "We really had it clicking."
And, after his third-quarter 3-pointer pushed the Warriors lead to its 29-point peak, Green very nearly had it licking:
I'm not sure whether Blake Griffin was at all intimidated by Draymond's lizard x Gene x Miley approach to talking smack, but I do know that the rest of us found the whole thing at least a little bit disquieting. Given the choice between having the 6-foot-7, 230-pound Green jogging with his tongue a few inches away from my face or your standard garden-variety wrestling match, I'd bet Blake would rather just wind up bruised up and floor-burned.
Whether he was sticking his tongue out at you, knocking down eight of 15 shots, battling on the boards en route to eight rebounds or moving the ball on the way to five assists, Green proved to be just one of many problems that the Clips were unable to solve on Wednesday. His strong play in the starting lineup — 12.5 points, 7.3 rebounds and 2.8 assists in 32.5 minutes per game, shooting 47.2 percent from the field and 50 percent from beyond the arc — has been a big reason why the Warriors have leapt out to one of the league's hottest starts, posting the league's top defense (90.5 points allowed per 100 possessions) and No. 7 offense (107 points scored per-100) through four games, according to NBA.com's stat tool.
”We’re 4-0 and Draymond’s starting, he’s playing well, so I’ll keep starting him,” Kerr said after the game, according to Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News.
You can certainly understand why. Golden State has outscored opponents by 57 points in the 130 minutes that Green's been on the floor, and among five-man units that have seen at least 45 total minutes of playing time so far, only the starting fives of the Washington Wizards and Sacramento Kings have posted an efficiency differential (whether you outscore your opponent over the course of 100 possessions, or vice versa) higher than the Warriors' lineup of Green, Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Andrew Bogut and Harrison Barnes.
Add in the fact that former starter David Lee reaggravated his injured left hamstring after playing just seven minutes in his season debut, and Kerr's decision becomes a no-brainer: Green stays in the picture ... even if he's not making the nicest faces when the TV cameras get their snapshots.
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