The LA Clippers took on the defending champion Golden St. Warriors at the packed Staples Center on Nov. 12th. Golden State was coming off a bad loss at home vs Milwaukee and missing their star Stephen Curry again out with a groin injury. The champs still had Kevin Durant, Clay Thompson and Draymond Green, who returned from his own injury. The Clippers we coming off a big overtime win vs Milwaukee so this game had all intentions of being close and exciting. The Warriors have owned the Clippers over the last 4 or so years dominating them even in the Chris, Blake and DeAndre years.
LA has been playing pretty well with its new look team featuring Lou Williams, Tobias Harris and Dino Gallinari as it’s 3 top starters. The unsung player on the team and difference maker is Montrez Harrell. Coach Doc Rivers has a very deep team and the best bench in the NBA statistics wise.
The game vs Golden State had a different feel without Curry. LA seemed to have confidence and a demeanor that they belonged and should win this game. From the get go, they took advantage and controlled the tempo and led throughout. It was still close as Durant kept the visitors there but he got in foul trouble. He had his 4th foul midway in the 3rd quarter. Yet the Clippers didn’t take advantage. Worse off in my opinion, the coaching faltered (and I am a big fan of Rivers). However, when you have a team or player in trouble especially their key guy, you need to attack him to put pressure on him to play defense or possibly commit a foul. The Clippers didn’t do that and even started taking bad shots. Thompson started to catch fire throughout the 4th as Durant was assessed his 5th foul. One more foul and LA could be in full control. But once again, they failed to attack Durant. Thompson stayed hot and ended up tying the game late in the 4th with some key long shots.
Finally after taking so many bad shots, they finally went into Harrell who started to attack and Durrant got his 6th foul in Overtime and then it became a different game as they went into overtime. A valiant effort by the visitors kept the game semi close but in the end, LA prevailed. The Clippers stopped taking long bad shots especially by Lou Williams and started driving and getting free throws for easier points. They definitely lucked out this game. The Warriors also had their chances including the last play of regulation when Green came down after a rebound with about 6 seconds left but ended up losing the ball so they didn’t get a shot up. Durant was yelling for him to give him the ball for the last shot. That led to words in the huddle and a heated moment as you can see them bickering at each other. Golden State announced today that Green was suspended without pay for conduct detrimental to the team. Durant is set to be a free agent after the game and rumors are that Green brought up some stuff including calling Durant a “bitch” that created tension and who knows what the lingering effects could be. Durant is expected to test the free agent market this upcoming off-season and 2 landing spots are the Clippers and Lakers so bad blood between him and Green makes this even more likely. We will see how the season pans out. The Warriors still have the best talent and 4 core players but their depth and bench are not as strong as past years which could hurt them in the playoffs. There is a lot more youth and inexperienced players except for Iguodala and Livingston.
Back to the Clippers and Coach Rives said his team did not give up despite going down by 3 in OT as well as giving up the big lead in the 4th quarter. “That shows a lot about your team”. Even though Williams let the team with a team high 26 points, he was cold going 5-18 but 14-14 on free throws. Harrell was the key guy again. Besides playing with the highest energy on the team and right up there with anyone else in the league, he was 10-13 on shooting and had 25 points, 8 rebounds and 4 block shots. This guy is a difference maker on both ends of the floor. He should be playing more as his production as been off the charts this year. The Clippers had one only 1 of the last 14 meetings between these teams before Monday night. More at www.nba.com/clippers