The moment was right in front of the Clippers and Golden State Warriors, there to be seized by two teams that have much disdain for each other.
When the time came to grab hold of that moment, when Game 1 of the Western Conference first-round playoff series hung in the balance, the Clippers failed.
The Warriors, the team the Clippers despise more than any other, didn't shy away from the moment, earning a 109-105 victory Saturday, as the home team simply wilted away at Staples Center.
As a result, the Clippers trail, 1-0, in the best-of-seven series and have lost the home-court advantage. Game 2 is Monday night at Staples.
"I don't want to say it was the pressure of the playoffs. It was just the way the game went," said J.J. Redick, who had 22 points on eight-for-11 shooting, four for five from three-point range. ". . . We want to beat these guys. They want to beat us. And sometimes that leads to mental errors."
On Saturday it also led to Blake Griffin playing only 19 minutes 14 seconds because of foul trouble.
Griffin eventually fouled out with 48.3 seconds left, less a minute after he'd tied the score at 105-105 on two free throws with 1:31 left.
He tried to give the Clippers the lead, but missed a layup and a follow tip-in try. Then Griffin fouled David Lee while trying to get another offensive rebound, his sixth, sending him to the bench with 16 points and three rebounds.
The Clippers didn't score again.
"I kept putting myself in a hole and a bad situation fouling," Griffin said. "I can't say whether that affected other guys or not. It affected our team, obviously. Like I said, I've got to do a better job."
With or without Griffin, the Clippers botched opportunity after opportunity.
The Warriors, led by Klay Thompson's 22 points and Lee's 20 points and 13 rebounds, did not.
"We just had a tremendous will and a tremendous competitive spirit tonight," Golden State Coach Mark Jackson said. "Big-time Game 1 victory. But this series is far from over."
Chris Paul finished with 28 points, eight assists and seven rebounds. But he had six turnovers, and missed two key free throws late in the game.
With the score tied at 105, Paul stole the ball from Thompson and passed ahead to Darren Collison for a potential go-ahead layup, but Collison fumbled the ball out of bounds with 37.7 seconds left.
After Draymond Green made two for a 107-105 Warriors lead with 24 seconds left, the Clippers put the ball into Paul's hands. But he was double teamed by Green and Steve Blake and lost the ball to go out of bounds for another turnover with 18.9 seconds left.
"I've got to take care of the basketball," Paul said.
Then after Harrison Barnes made one of two free throws to make it 108-105, Paul missed two free throws with 11.9 seconds left.
Green missed two free throws with 10.4 seconds left and Collison chased down the long rebound at the sideline, but he stepped out of bounds with 7.5 seconds left.
"We made too many mistakes to win the game," Clippers Coach Doc Rivers said. "When you do that, you lose the game."
The Clippers now have lost Game 1 of a playoff series six times since moving to Los Angeles in 1984.
They lost the series each of previous five times that has happened.
"I told them going in, you would love to win all your home games," Rivers said. "But if you don't, you don't. And you've got to win one on the road, maybe two on the road, to win the series. I've said that to them all year. You have to be prepared for all that. We have to win a game on the road now."
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