After a bah-humbug start, it was a merry Christmas after all for the Clippers. They started the game cold, ended it hot and beat the Golden State Warriors, 100-86, on Thursday night at Staples Center. Here are five takeaways from the game:
1. The Clippers showed they can beat a good team even when playing poorly for long stretches. They missed 16 consecutive shots at one point in the first quarter but managed to stay in the game against the team with the NBA’s best record because of solid defense and a, well, relentless mindset. They used an attacking approach against Golden State’s Stephen Curry, limiting his touches and holding him to 14 points on five-for-12 shooting. Klay Thompson had an even worse shooting night, going six of 18 for 15 points.
2. Jamal Crawford acknowledged his elbow is still bothering him. You wouldn’t know it considering he scored a game-high 24 points off the bench, but the Clippers shooting guard said he’s not quite right. “If we’re being completely honest, maybe I should have sat out some of those games,” said Crawford, who kept playing despite bursting a bursa sac about two weeks ago. “It’s my shooting elbow that’s been bothering me. I love basketball too much. I’ll deal with the percentages not being there.” His percentages were fine Thursday, when he made eight of 18 shots.
3. The Clippers are clearly better than they were the last time these teams met. Coach Doc Rivers said as much before the game when comparing his team with the one that lost by 17 points to the Warriors in Oakland in November, but it didn’t look that way when the Clippers scored 18 points in the first quarter. The upside was they held the Warriors to 20 points, hanging around until a stretch when the Clippers made nine of 13 shots to open the fourth quarter and pull away for their best victory of the season.
4. DeAndre Jordan showed his comical side before the game. The Clippers center took a cordless microphone and wished fans happy holidays before thanking them and telling them to enjoy the game. He then extended arms out from his side and dropped the mic in dramatic fashion. He started the game with a two-handed, rim-rattling dunk before the Clippers went on to miss the next 16 shots. Jordan finished with 14 points and 12 rebounds.
5. Spencer Hawes appears to be nearing his return. Rivers said the reserve forward-center who has been sidelined a couple of weeks with a bone bruise in his left knee was scheduled to scrimmage one-on-one Friday. Hawes could probably play within a week.