Clippers and Warriors renew their spirited rivalry on Christmas Day

The Clippers and Golden State Warriors have developed an intense rivalry and it resumes Christmas Day at Stapl

Spare room was hard to find on the naughty list this past year, so much of it being taken up by Clippers and Golden State Warriors.

The names of Blake Griffin and Warriors counterpart Draymond Green were the first to appear, on Christmas Day 2013. Griffin received a technical foul after a dust-up with Green, who was ejected after smacking Griffin in the neck area while going for a rebound.

Golden State's Andrew Bogut made the list the same day when he got tangled up with Griffin and received a flagrant one foul in an exchange that led to Griffin's second technical and resulting ejection.

Klay Thompson was added before the teams' wild first-round playoff series last spring when the Warriors shooting guard accused Griffin of flopping and being a "bull in a china shop."

It's a good thing the list spans only the previous 365 days, because there have been plenty of other perpetrators in the Clippers-Warriors rivalry that resumes Thursday night at Staples Center. This is the third Christmas meeting in four years between the teams, who split the first two games, both at Oracle Arena in Oakland.

There was little doubt the NBA would feature this matchup when it made out its holiday schedule.

"It's probably from all the hoopla from the past games," Clippers point guard Chris Paul said Tuesday night. "After we played each other in the playoffs and especially because it went seven games, I'm sure that's who we are going to be playing for a while on Christmas."

The mutual disgust spilled over into a Staples Center hallway in May after the Clippers eliminated the Warriors from the playoffs. A misunderstanding involving voices Golden State players thought they heard coming from outside their locker room triggered a verbal exchange in which Warriors forward Marreese Speights had to be restrained and the Los Angeles Police Dept. was called in.

The angst shifted to the Clippers in early November, Coach Doc Rivers calling his players "soft" after the Warriors routed them by 17 points in the teams' first meeting this season.

Golden State (23-4) will bring the league's best record into the rematch — even after an upset loss to the Lakers on Tuesday — as part of the best start in franchise history. One thing the Warriors won't have is Bogut, who will miss an eighth consecutive game because of fluid buildup in his right knee.

The Clippers were somewhat intrigued by the prospect of Josh Smith joining their team, but the free-agent forward released by the Detroit Pistons earlier this week agreed to sign with the Houston Rockets on Wednesday.

Reinforcements would certainly be welcome for the Clippers, who are in the midst of a stretch of 26 days featuring 15 games and three sets of back-to-backs.

Then again, weary legs could regain their spring quickly given the opponent Thursday.

"If we can't find energy for that game, then that's a problem," Griffin said of playing the Warriors. "I think we'll be ready for that game."

While the Warriors will have been in Los Angeles for nearly three days by tip-off thanks to their game against the Lakers, the Clippers may still be groggy from having returned from Atlanta early Wednesday morning.

"It's really set up nice," a half-smiling Rivers said of the schedule. "But that's OK. Adversity is good. Get through it. You learn from it. You get tougher. So, to me, bring it on. That's what I always say, 'Adversity is good. Deal with it.' "

There figures to be at least a dash of that in a rivalry so contentious the Clippers refused to hold chapel with the Warriors before one game last season. Just another slight in a matchup that lends itself to a different kind of season's greetings.

"It's two teams that have had a fun last couple of years playing against one another," Warriors power forward David Lee deadpanned to reporters, "so we're looking forward to it."


When: 7:30 PST Thursday.

Where: Staples Center.

On the air: TV: TNT; Radio: 980.

Records: Warriors 23-4, Clippers 19-10.

Record vs. Warriors: 0-1.

Update: This is the start of a nine-game homestand for the Clippers, who have won seven consecutive games at Staples Center. To extend their streak, the Clippers will probably have to score at least 100 points because Golden State is 15-0 when holding opponents under triple digits. The Warriors also lead the league in field-goal percentage (.481), opponents' field-goal percentage (.422), blocks (6.48 per game), defensive rebounds (35.2) and point differential (plus-9.5).

Twitter: @latbbolch

Times staff writer Broderick Turner contributed to this report.

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