No matter how a game between the Golden State Warriors and Los Angeles Clippers goes, the result is the same — the Warriors win, often via blowout, and leave a demoralized Clippers team in their wake.
Golden State came into Thursday night’s contest at Oracle Arena with nine straight victories over their fiercest divisional rivals, a run that belied the bad blood between the sides but which has also added to it. Simply put, the Warriors sometimes appear to toy with the Clippers, letting them take sight of victory only to crush their dreams with little warning. It’s like if the boulder not only hit Sisyphus on its way back down the hill, but also married his ex-wife.
A recap of Thursday’s game might as well start with the score, because you’ve probably predicted it by now. The Warriors won 123-113 in a final margin that easily could have been much larger, making it 10 in a row over the Clippers with yet another display of dominance. They shot 53.8 percent from the field, made 13-of-26 3-pointers, and got a combined 60 points from All-Star starters Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant.
But they struggled enough early on to suggest to the Clippers that they had a chance to break that long-running losing streak. The Warriors struggled mightily in the second quarter to hit just 49 points by halftime and carried a 12-point deficit into the second half. Were they suffering a post-break hangover after sending four All-Stars to New Orleans? Would the Clippers be able to pull off an unlikely win with the medically cleared Chris Paul still in street clothes?
No. Of course not.
Whatever difficulties plagued Golden State in the second quarter quickly fell away in the first few minutes of the third. The Warriors tied the score at 67-67 on a Durant 3-pointer with 7:24 remaining in the period and kept going from there, finishing with an absurd 50 points — one more than they had in the entire first half, remember — on this Curry buzzer-beater:
It was the NBA’s first 50-point quarter since the Lakers put up 51 on the Knicks in March 2015 and just the fourth in Warriors history (and first since 1989). Their nine 3s matched a franchise record for a quarter, but the wonders of the box score didn’t stop there:
Third-quarter only box score from the Warriors' 50-point frame: pic.twitter.com/oHxhFzGTLE
— Warriors PR (@WarriorsPR) February 24, 2017
It goes without saying that this is all very good. The only arguable weak points were the Clippers’ 9-of-19 shooting and the Warriors’ three turnovers, but these are negligible points when a team scores 50 points on better than 70-percent shooting. That tends to cover up minor mistakes.
The domination was certainly a team effort, but Curry stood out as the star of the night. He scored 20 points in the third period and finished with a team-high 35 on just 16 shot attempts. He was at his best — efficient, in control, and capable of making shots that no others in the NBA can. There’s no answer for him when he plays like this.
Whether the Clippers have any answer for the Warriors on any night remains to be seen. It’s hard to knock them too much for losing to the best team in the league when CP3 is out, but the story is getting a little old at this point. Every new Warriors-Clippers game feels like a new opportunity to find out how badly the latter can lose. The streak will stop at some point, but the emotional impact might last a while.
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